Review: War for the Planet of the Apes

The sentient apes prepare for a last stand against the remaining humans in War for the Planet of the Apes. It has now been fifteen years since the apes lead by 
Caesar (Andy Serkis) gained intelligence and began a life for themselves in the Muir Woods outside of San Francisco. Thanks to the previous actions of deceased ape Koba (Toby Kebbell), the apes are now in the midst of all out war with the surviving humans, lead by a sadistic Colonel (Woody Harrelson). Following an attack by The Colonel leaving tragic casualties, Caesar vows vengeance and goes off to confront the leader, accompanied only by his closest advisers Maurice (Karin Konoval), Rocket (Terry Notary), and Luca (Michael Adamthwaite). Along the way, Caesar finds a mute human girl named Nova (Amiah Miller) and former zoo ape Bad Ape (Steve Zahn), the latter of whom acts as a guide to The Colonel’s base.

When Rise of the Planet of the Apes was released back in 2011, it was going against the baggage of both the original film series from the 1960s and 1970s, as well as Tim Burton’s polarizing “re-imagining” from 2000. However, structured as a prequel that showed how apes would become the dominant species on the planet, the film turned out to be one of the better than average reboots. The 2014 sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes upped the ante, as both the apes and humans struggled to co-exist in a post-apocalyptic world. Now, War for the Planet of the Apes brings the plot full circle, as the remaining humans desperately try to protect their place in the world.

Probably the most interesting aspect of this Planet of the Apes reboot/prequel series was now the apes progressively received more character development, while the human characters dwindled in numbers. Andy Serkis’ Caesar has remained the primary focus of this series, as he progressed from a pet of James Franco’s Will Rodman in the original film to the grizzled leader he is now. Also present throughout the entire series was orangutan Maurice and chimpanzee Rocket, both of whom have been Caesar’s closest advisers since the very beginning. War for the Planet of the Apes introduces the new ape Bad Ape, who is the first sentient ape encountered outside of Caesar’s tribe.

As the primary antagonist known only as The Colonel, Woody Harrelson is one of the few human characters to get center stage in this new film. Another one is the mute human girl Nova, who is presumably a younger version of the character of the same name that appears in the original Planet of the Apes film from 1968. Nova’s mute nature is the result of a mutation in the simian flu virus that has been plaguing the world, which has been causing humanity to devolve at the same time the apes are evolving. So, in essence The Colonel has lost his mind to try and protect humanity from an inevitability.

War of the Planet of the Apes is definitely a quite epic conclusion to this series, which has really become the exception to the rule that reboots are weaker films than the original.

8 / 10 stars

Sean Kelly Author

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described über-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).