Review: War for the Planet of the Apes

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Story: A military colonel attacks Caesar’s camp, causing Caesar to seek him out for revenge. But on the journey Cesar comes across a new human-plague and ends up in more of a psychological than physical war with the colonel.


First, the obvious. The VFX in this film are absolutely stunning and more realistic looking than anything I’ve seen before. While some of the motion capture had a few rare bumps and the integration of a waterfall in one scene had some seeming frame rate issues, the texturing and animation of the CG critters was phenomenal. The film is worth watching if only to see the artistry of the VFX and animation teams.

Now for the meat of any movie: the story. Visually, thematically, and storywise, this film is very obviously trying to be Apocalypse Now with Apes – or as some graffiti in the film puts it “Ape-ocalypse Now.” The general mis-en-scene is strongly reminiscent overall, but it didn’t become a totally shameless homage until the scene with the shaven-headed madman (seen above) having droning philosophical conversations about war and morality with the captive protagonist in his bunker while classic 60’s rock music plays in the background. I have to admit, I was a little disappointed that nobody said “I love the smell of [something that burns] in the morning” at some point in the film since they had already gone as far as they did. It was a decent imitation, but I would have preferred original writing over re-creation. Also, and I mention this only because the same problem existed in Wonder Woman (see last review), there were an excessive number of moments where the leading characters postured proudly or gazed defiantly at each other without speaking for extended periods of time. You need this at key moments, of course, but if you do it all the time it loses all meaning and importance.

As for the more serialized part of the story, the plague thing was… okay. I prefer the original version where people just devolve over a long period of time due to domestication, but stuff caused by messing with DNA is a more modern sci-fi idea so it’s fine. I do disagree with the shortened timeline though. Since the experimentation was supposed to have happened 15 years before and the main characters of the first POTA film are children in this, it means that the timeline of all the movies put together is only about 20-30 years. It makes enough sense given the DNA alteration thing, but it’s so much less epic than a story which takes place over hundreds or thousands of years like the original version.

Recommended for: Fans of heavily psychological war movies and VFX-heavy films.

Content notes: (10+, PG) – Nothing outrageously gross, pretty violent but not super violent, more psychologically warped than anything else.

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