War for the Planet of the Apes is the finale of the prequel trilogy that has been named incorrectly. First we had Rise of the Planet of the Apes, then came Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. So technically it rose before it started. This final chapter is named war, because it’s about Apes escaping from a prison. There’s some explosions as well so I guess War is the most accurate title so far.
None of that actually matters of course, the title of a film doesn’t affect the quality of a film, only the box office, just ask “John Carter”, which is a good film nobody saw because it sounds like a film about an accountant. It even did worse than “The Accountant” in the US, which is a film based on an Accountant (who is also a badass, some say it’s based on me, I cannot confirm or deny these reports).
War had the unenviable task of following up on the fantastic second film Dawn, and whilst it never reaches the heights of its predecessor, it delivers a fitting end to this story and the journey we have seen these apes go on.
Andy Serkis reprises his role as King of the Apes Caesar, and once again he is fantastic in the role. The man has become one of the most consistently excellent performers in the movie industry regardless of whether he’s doing motion capture or otherwise. He is the driving force behind this movie and his dynamic with Woody Harrelson provide the crux of the movie.
As I mentioned earlier, “War” is a slightly misleading title as although the film does have some solid action scenes, the focus of the film is much more personal and surprised me that they went for this angle. Without spoiling too much, a major part of the film is set in a prison camp situation and the film is more “Great Escape” than “Saving Private Ryan”.
The action scenes we do get are shot clearly, and you never lose track of what’s happening. there was nothing quite up to the level of the Tank panning shot from Dawn, but the camerawork throughout the hectic battles is solid, and the use of wide shots let you get a real sense of scale towards the end of the film.
Like i hinted at earlier, Woody Harrelson provides an excellent antagonist, and his character seems like a bit of a one-dimensional guy at first but his motivations are revealed and i personally found myself understanding his point of view. Considering he is technically representing the Human Race in this film, its strange that the guy fighting for us is the one we see as the villain. This is a testament to the work done over the 3 movies to get us to relate to the apes in this trilogy.
War for the Planet of the Apes never reaches the incredibly heights of Dawn, but I think that would be an unrealistic expectation. What we have here is a good end to a magnificent trilogy of films, that can stand toe to toe some of the greatest movie trilogies we have ever had. If only they named them correctly. Even a monkey could have done a better job.
8/10 – Fitting end to fantastic trilogy.