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Born-Again Darwinism | WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES – Review

Andy Serkis on the set of Twentieth Century Fox’s “War for the Planet of the Apes.”

Ape nation today, tomorrow, and forever!

Before I get to the film, I’m gonna start by getting something off my chest. Enough is enough! Andy Serkis (Caesar) better be getting recognition during award season. It’s about time this man’s work is acknowledged for what he’s done to a franchise no one knew would hold up well and become an epic hit. His motion-capture and acting performances in this entire series has been fantastic. From that commanding voice, to mannerisms, and executing character objectives, we’ve evolved with Caesar. And what a pleasure it’s been! Therefore, I conclude, award kudos needs to happen. It’s only fair, ladies and gentlemen.

OK. I’m done.

War for the Planet of the Apes | © 2017 20th Century Fox

In 2001, Tim Burton’s campy, mishmash PLANET OF THE APES revival proved nothing other than the start of an era where Hollywood aimed at dusting off yesteryears. Much respect to Mr. Burton (who has a solid line of work), but his attempt at the APES was a nauseating disappointment. If anything, a definite thought the franchise was done and could only be relived through reruns of its popular 60s TV show. But come 2011, there was a RISE that stomped, screamed, and rattled audiences around the world. Kick-starting a new DAWN, the setup was brilliant and witty, pleasing the masses once again. As evolution continued taking threatening steps in reverse, inevitability planted seeds of WAR!

War for the Planet of the Apes | © 2017 20th Century Fox

In WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES, the story at heart is of both a military and emotional last stand. As peace between apes and mankind has collapsed — and a renegade band of human soldiers led by an arrogant, domineering Colonel (Woody Harrelson) makes a final, all-out attack – Caesar (Andy Serkis) is hit with unimaginable, personal loss and a dark line inside his psyche is crossed. As he wrestles with harsh impulses and doubts about his own ability to inspire the apes towards freedom, grit and love provide the heartbeat he needs towards a future of hope.

War for the Planet of the Apes | © 2017 20th Century Fox

Off the bat, WAR is the darker and most emotionally intense of the series. From its first through its third, APES is a franchise that’s gotten progressively better. WAR’s triumphant appeal stems from its well-executed narrative, passionate new and older characters, and unfortunate scope towards extinction. A realm of which exposes the values of either species forging a civilization. Layered with lots of relatable objectives and struggles for survival, Matt Reeves is one hell of a visionary, taking the film into an abyss of unique action-sequences and serious adrenaline rush. Storytelling at its finest, its visual effects are pretty much the backbone to this spectacular series.

Woody Harrelson as “Colonel” in War for the Planet of the Apes | © 2017 20th Century Fox

Woody Harrelson is a beast! And as a “villain” is as much fun to watch and hate as Serkis is to watch and love. But surprising takeaways from WAR in terms of characters has to be Amiah Miller as Nova, the human child who becomes an unexpected link between the apes and humanity, and Steve Zahn as Bad Ape, a lonely chimp who brings heart and humor to the apes in their darkest hour.

Amiah Miller as “Nova” in War for the Planet of the Apes | © 2017 20th Century Fox

Providing many tentacles of complexities, WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES will definitely be on top 20 lists by end-of-year. It’s everything and more, with a twist of, “Did they really go there!?” Explosively loud, deeply engaging, and visually stunning would be the best way to describe it. It’s good. It’s so good, you want it. NO! You need it. I can’t recall any trilogy that went 3-for-3 and FOX pulled it off with APES! Keeping its momentum will be interesting considering its ending. Time will only tell, but for now… Endure and enjoy! 

Steve Zahn stars as “Bad Ape” in War for the Planet of the Apes | © 2017 20th Century Fox


Grade: A | Genre: Sci-Fi, Drama, Action/Adventure | Rated: PG-13 | Run Time: 2:20

Starring: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Amiah Miller, Karin Konoval, Terry Notary, Andy Greer, Gabriel Chavarria

Directed by: Matt Reeves

Official Site:

© 2017 20th Century Fox