War For The Planet Of The Apes is the concluding chapter in the rebooted Planet Of The Apes trilogy, and it may just be the best film in the franchise since the 1968 classic. The movie accomplishes this seemingly impossible task by raising the stakes since the last film, while having its own identity and staying true to the series.
What made the previous films so good was not only the CGI and the storytelling, but Caesar (played brilliantly by Andy Serkis), who by this film seems to be at the end of the line, mentally and physically. Not only do we see this in his motives, but in his grey hairs, which also give you a feeling of how much time has passed since Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes. The cinematography is brilliant, too.
The cinematography is gorgeous in this film, from the waterfalls to the huge snowy landscapes, and scenes lit by only a laser sight. The apes look more real than ever before, showing just how far CGI technology has come in only 6 years. But these amazing visuals won’t distract from how clichéd the movie gets, especially towards the final act of the movie, where the “War” part of the title truly comes into play. This predictability isn’t as bad as the previous films, but that isn’t saying much.
Not only is the film very predictable, it also feels the need to shoehorn in unnecessary characters that only exist to take up screen time or act as a throwback to the 1968 original. Add to that the awkward humor just moments after an extremely serious scene, and any tension that we felt is gone. Despite the unnecessary humor, the tense moments really do work, not only thanks to Andy Serkis’ Caesar, but Woody Harrelson’s character as well.
While fans of Harrelson might be disappointed that he doesn’t have much screen time, they can rest easy knowing he steals any scene he is in. His performance feels very intimidating and he’s the most memorable human character in the series since James Franco in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Speaking of Rise, this movie really does feel like you’ve witnessed the fall of humans and rise of the apes since the first film. The tone is radically different from the first one as well. It’s more in line with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes as a post-apocalyptic film but instead of a jungle-esque setting, we get more of a Vietnam-war vibe mixed with some Shawshank Redemption, at least as far as the plot is concerned.
Putting aside the flaws, this is a satisfying end to Caesar’s trilogy, there’s a feeling of finality throughout the film, kept together by some killer performances, top notch visuals, and tension-heavy scenes. But it nearly falls apart with its attempts at humor, unnecessary characters, and its somewhat predictable nature. Audiences will leave the theater very satisfied at the very least.