War for the Planet of the Apes movie poster
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War for the Planet of the Apes
War for the Planet of the Apes movie poster

War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

Humans just had to tell one too many banana jokes. The apes seek revenge on those pesky humans in War for the Planet of the Apes, a refreshingly strong action-drama that ranks among the year’s best, an entertaining and engaging thriller that is nearly as good as its top-tier predecessor—save for a few plot holes and a less-than-stellar climax.

Andy Serkis resumes his role as Caesar, conflicted leader of the apes who have thrived while humanity has all but died out. After the excellent Dawn for the Planet of the Apes, which had Caesar fighting off a resurrection while attempting to maintain peace with a group of timid humans, returning director Matt Reeves somehow manages to pull off yet another shockingly interesting and emotionally complex summer blockbuster that, despite extensive use of subtitles and considerable time devoted to character development and story over action, will win over most people who give it a chance.

Once again featuring stellar visual effects, solid acting and a thoughtful, well-written story, War for the Planet of the Apes confirms that this trilogy is one of the best ever put to film. Rarely do three movies maintain the level of quality that this most unlikely trio of films has maintained, and for that, War for the Planet of the Apes deserves all the credit in the world.

And yet, it’s arguably the weakest of the three movies, largely because of the movie’s final 30 minutes. First, as good as the story is, it doesn’t really live up to the title—arguably, the titles and even order of War and Dawn could have been switched and both would have made more sense. More importantly, the movie struggles with plot holes and logic gaps in a way Dawn didn’t—there are just a few too many moments or outcomes that seem convenient to progress the story. How is that little girl able to just wander into a heavily secured military base? Why, after escaping, are the apes suddenly wandering out in the open of a middle field in full view of the soldiers?

Don’t even get me started on the avalanche.

Some may argue the avalanche (spoilers ahead) aligns with something Woody Harrelson (who plays the villain) says, hinting that nature has dictated humanity’s end, but in reality it’s a cheap and implausible means to wrap things up in a nice little bow and effectively wipe out the faceless army that appears in the film’s waning minutes.

Even the film’s weaknesses are better than many movies’ strengths—everything is relative. While Reeves and team didn’t make a perfect film, in yet another summer of near constant disappointments, War for the Planet of the Apes is a shining success.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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