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Non-Spoiler Movie Review: War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)




I love these Planet of the Apes movies. Rise and Dawn blew me away and it has the potential to be one of the rare movie trilogies where all movies are five star rated, so the pressure is on for this one to match up the quality of it predecessors. If you have a quick sec, please give my reviews of those two movies a quick check. That would be greatly appreciated.

Once again directed by Matt Reeves, WOTPOTA takes place two years after Dawn. We’ve seen the rise of the apes and the dawn of a new era (see what I did there, kids?) in which the apes are taking over the earth and now we’re going to see a war between the last remaining humans and the vastly intelligent apes.

I’ve made my feelings clear about the previous two movies. As I say, it’s been a solid series so far. I tend to get nervous whenever we get to the third movie in a trilogy because most of the time the third movie isn’t as good (I’m looking at you Back to the Future 3, Godfather 3, Spiderman 3). It’s very, very rare that the third movie is any good.

What do I make of this? This movie floored me. Much like with Rise and Dawn, this movie completely blew my mind. I’m going out there and saying that this is my current pick for movie of the year.


I think it’s a masterpiece. I really do.


Thinking back, I can’t pick out a scene, a moment, a line, a quote that feels out of place. Everything runs smoothly and in tune. The crazy thing of all is that there’s only one exposition scene in the entire movie. There’s only one sequence between Caesar and Woody Harrelson’s character where they discuss the past and certain things that have happened between those characters. Beyond that this is a bleak, brutal, uncompromising movie, that had me hooked from start to finish. I loved every minute of this movie. Jaw dropping isn’t the word. It must not go overlooked that the team of people who worked on the animation, my God, these people are talented beyond words.

The motion capture work…..DAMN. You honestly want words to describe it? Seeing is believing, and believe me, this is some outstanding work. Almost every frame had me gripped to my seat. I mentioned this in my Dawn review that you completely forget that you’re watching GCI. You lose yourself watching this. Easily the best motion capture work I’ve ever seen.

Andy Serkis, as usual, once again is one top of his game as Caesar. Caesar has always been looked up to by the other apes as their leader. Age has caught up to him, the effects of war are taking its toll on him as he tries to channel his darker side.

Woody Harrelson, bloody hell, what a performance. I mean, who would have thought that he could be intimidating? This is the same guy who played Woody Boyd in Cheers. He’s an iron-fisted soldier which an immense hate towards the apes. He runs a prison camp for apes and they treat these apes very badly. Think of it as the holocaust for apes. Loads of holocaust themes throughout in this movie.


Storytelling is an important part of anything movie, book, whatever. The construction of this movie is staggering, what you learn in the opening scene sets everything up for the rest of movie and it connects back perfectly to the finale.

Just re-watched the other two movies not long ago, so they’re still fresh in my memory, you’re going to see this huge overarching story that really works as a whole, and that’s what the best trilogies do. It’s not about a great film, it’s a great addition to the overall story. All three movies just click together into place. It just feels natural.

As the title suggests, there is a war going on and of course you think that there’s going to be this mind-blowing, gigantic action scene. You kind of get that, but not in the way you might think. That’s all I can say about that, otherwise I’ll be treading into spoiler land.

The movie sets up certain beats within the opening act, and your brain starts to act like somebody who watches a bunch of movies and you think that something is going to happen later on. That doesn’t happen here. It doesn’t give its characters the easy way out. It makes them have hard choices and difficult decisions to make.

There’s a side story involving a mute girl which I thought was really sweet and another side story with a character called “Bad Ape”. This is where the movie could have gone wrong because he’s this comic relief character in a very dark film. I thought he was great. A risk that paid off.

A great addition to the POTA franchise. The best movie out of the three in this trilogy.

Movie of the year.

Rating: ***** (Top of the Pops)


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