War for the Planet of the Apes

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War for the Planet of the Apes

The monkey business is somber, brutal and utterly persuasive in this dazzling third entry of a sci-fi series that's only getting better

An evolution of the tech-heavy Hollywood blockbuster, the ‘Planet of the Apes’ franchise is a Darwinian dream come true. These movies have captured a soulfulness that’s different from anything else out there.

‘Apes’ wrangler, director and co-writer Matt Reeves (‘Cloverfield’) has steered the concept into ethically complex territory, beginning with 2014’s second chapter, ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’. He now surpasses himself with a broodingly downbeat epic set 15 years after the outbreak of the civilisation-killing simian flu. As you’ll have guessed from the title, it’s a war film, but not just any war. From the scrawled markings on the human soldiers’ helmets – ‘Monkey Killer’ – to the bald, bellicose colonel straight out of ‘Apocalypse Now’ (Woody Harrelson, doing his best bug-eyed Brando), this film rewages the war of Vietnam, complete with its tangle of self-negating righteousness and mission drift.

Once again our hero is Caesar (Andy Serkis in a motion-captured triumph that eclipses even his beloved Gollum – the effects here are close to magical), sensitive leader of the apes who suffers a calamitous blow to his family after a sneak attack. His peaceful nature rocked by a desire for vengeance, Caesar departs with a small detachment of shaggy aides-de-camp to intercept the humans while his tribe heads for shelter.

Apart from pulling off the unique trick of having us root for human extinction, ‘War for the Planet of the Apes’ foregrounds a beautiful tension between the savage instinct for retribution and civilised restraint – ironically fought within the heart of an animal. The film is graced with a spooky grandeur: snowy vistas, long-empty buildings and a starkly forlorn, percussion-heavy orchestral score by Michael Giacchino.

After all that forward momentum, it gets slightly bogged down in the machinations of a last-act prison break, and a final hat-tip to Mother Nature’s violence feels beside the point. While we’re immersed in the battle, though, the stakes feel higher than ever. Take note, rebooters. This is how you do it.

By: Joshua Rothkopf


Release details

Rated: 12A
Release date: Tuesday July 11 2017
Duration: 140 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Matt Reeves
Screenwriter: Mark Bomback, Matt Reeves
Cast: Andy Serkis
Judy Greer
Woody Harrelson
Steve Zahn

Average User Rating

3.9 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:1
  • 4 star:5
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:0
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I really enjoyed watching the third instalment of the planet of the apes trilogy. I wondered how they would be able to develop the storyline from the previous two movies but they definately pulled it off! It had some great humour moments with a new character bad ape and also touching emotional scenes too. A little bit of everything! The only downside for me was the length of the movie, towards the end I got a little fidgety and thought it could have been much shorter but all in all a good watch, check it out!


I loved the first two movies in this trilogy; moving, heart-breaking & action packed, they were beautifully written and directed – plus is it just me or did anyone else get something of a crush on Caesar?! – so I was super excited to see this third installment.

It’s surprisingly darker and much more low-key than ‘Dawn’ and ‘Rise’ with great swathes of the action taking place without much dialogue at all. You totally forget that you’re watching apes and it never even crosses your mind that the apes you are watching aren’t real. There are scenes that are hard to watch – this is a film set in and around war after all – but director Matt Reeves is intelligent enough to balance these out with moments of sincere humour which come primarily from new character, Steve Zahn’s Bad Ape.

As Caesar’s nemesis The Colonel, Wood Harrelson rocks up in a role that he could play with his eyes closed; it’s not that he’s not good, it’s just that Andy Serkis is so good, he completely outshines everyone else on the screen. The transformation that he began two films ago in this series and years ago in LOTR & King Kong is nothing short of spectacular. I couldn’t look away from his face and the introduction of Nova, a young orphan girl taken in by Maurice brought a new dimension to the battles that raged both within and around him.

I loved the visuals – Caesar riding a horse through the falling snow is one of those scenes that will stay with you long after the credits roll – and I’m torn between wanting the series to continue and thinking that sometimes, leaving things on a high is the best way to go. What began as a fantastic action packed series of popcorn films has matured into something intelligent, thought-provoking and disturbing and credit to both Reeves and Serkis for this.


Full to the brim with socio-political themes and undertones (there's even a giant wall!), War For The Planet Of The Apes follows the well-trodden tradition of trilogies ending on a disappointing note.

I loved Rise Of The Planet of the Apes and was pleasantly surprised by its James Franco-less follow-up, but this film I just found dull. Humans take so much of a backseat that it takes about 80mins to meet the main antagonist. Woody Harrelson puts in a fine 'mean' performance, but he's not big, strong or menacing enough to leave a truly lasting impression. Even so, he and the rest of the film's po-faced tone enough to make the comic relief of Bad Ape stick out worse than it would have already for not actually being that funny (he thinks people are tiny when looking down the wrong side of binoculars - hilarious!).

Much of the film shows close ups of CGI Apes and there's no denying they look fantastic. But with their limited dialogue and a limited storyline, I couldn't help feel bored.


I have to admit I wasn't looking forward to this movie (was out voted on the film choice). I thought it would be just countless scenes of monkeys and men being blown up. So I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy a good plot and some really interesting characters, mainly Caesar, Maurice, The Colonel and Bad Ape. When Maurice takes Nova under his wing it really did remind me of 'Logan.'  The film is well structured and enjoyable. The backdrops are stunning. It was also fascinating to see how the humans were turning more beast like whilst the apes showed more compassion. Totally entertaining.


Another great film in the planet of the apes franchise. 

My favourite film length, without doubt, is 1hr45 - 2hrs. Anything over that and I start to get a bit fidgety. So when I saw that War For The Planet Of The Apes was 2h20, I panicked a bit....

Luckily, my worry was unfounded. Carrying on from the last film, Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, Caesar needed to keep his family and his fellow apes safe from the clutches of the evil humans.


If you don't want any spoilers, I'd probably read this after you've watched the film....but if you don't mind, then please continue!

Caesar has historically not wanted to hurt or kill humans, showing that he offers empathy and mercy to people that he otherwise could've killed. But in this film, the Colonel (Woody Harrelson), makes this quite hard for him to do.

Caesar, time and time again, doesn't kill the Colonel when he has the chance, and in return is tortured and left for dead by the humans, who have also captured the entire ape colony along the way.

The story culminates (there's a lot in between that I don't want to spoil for you!), with the apes having found a new place to live, and Caesar......


Following his death, the film ands, and it leaves us wondering a few things:

  1. Will there ever be another Planet of the Apes film?
  2. Who will bring up Caesar's little ape boy, Cornelius, after the Colonel killed Caesar's wife and son?
  3. How the hell did Maurice learn to talk, and why did he wait until Caesar's dying moment to impart this amazing revalation!?

With so many unanswered questions, could there be a new Planet of the Apes film in a few years? We certainly hope so, but I'm not sure it would be the same without Caesar!

Score: 4/5


This was quite an enjoyable film, but not as good as I had expected it to be, it is borderline 3/4 for me.  The underlying story was the war between the humans and the apes, but the main part of the story was about a few characters including Caesar and a human girl and how they try and rescue the other apes.  There was a bit of humour in it in the character of 'bad ape' - some scenes with these characters in it reminded be a bit of Ice Age.

Some of the film was hard to watch as, although it was fictional and cgi characters, it paralleled horrific things that have happened in the past in wartime before and it horrified me to think that people did actually treat others like that.

I would definitely recommend going to see it, but my husband said he found it boring, so how much you enjoy it, could depend on how much ratio of action to storyline you prefer.  I liked the overall story, but he would have just preferred a war.

I won't give away what happened at the very end, but I had hoped it would end a bit differently.


So I came to this film quivering with anticipation, looking forward to the run of the mill simian/human conflict story, lots of noise, strong CGI and half-arsed characterisation that one has come to expect from this franchise. But ohhh no they couldn't manage that... instead what I got was a well crafted, 'human' story about the apes coming to terms with their position in this new world.

Where were the weak storylines? The bad characterisations? The inter-ape conflict? Nope, none of that... 

Such an original take on a very well-trodden story. The whole film is seen from the ape's point of view although the opening sequence doesn't give that impression. 

A LOT less violence than all the other films, more in-depth characterisation (of the apes) a clever sub-story and an original ending. I very much hope that they leave this film as the last. It can't be improved upon and any other take on this concept will simply dilute the strength of this film.

GO TO SEE THIS FILM... you do not need to have seen any of the previous films, in fact not having seen them is likely a better starting point. This film stands on its own and was truly quite a revelation... I am tempted to give it 1 star as it failed to live up to my initial expectations but my lass would kill me, so 5 it is.


It’s a 3rd sequel of the Apes. From the previous movies we all fell in love with the clever leader Ceasar, his wife and sons, gentle orang-utan Maurice, now we have another charismatic character - cute and funny Bad Ape, who is quoting: “Humans get sick, apes get smart, humans kill apes.” We also have a mute girl Nova who lost her voice due to some virus and who was saved by apes and accepted to their camp.

The beginning of the movie I found a bit slow. Yes, it is beautiful and evocative how Ceasar and his company are riding on horseback through fields, lakes, mountains, snow, blizzard, trying to reach the apes prison camp but it just goes for too long. It reminded me of the Lords of the Ring venture.

But once the movie picks up it pace, it becomes brilliant. Once they reach the prison camp, where the Colonel captured and slavered other apes, the real actions are starting, leading to a Prison Break on another level. The Colonel is using apes to build a fort to defend his army from other humans. His war goes beyond just the human-ape conflict, and he detests both apes and other humans. Visual effects in the movie aren't just realistic but jaw-dropping and also twistingly incorporated into the storytelling, and topped up by brilliant performances of all actors, perhaps we are talking about Oscar nominations? The story about the Apes is a very "human" story, it presents the conflict of morality and humanity.