Weekly Movie Review: War for the Planet of the Apes

War for the Planet of the Apes; The summer’s best flick

There are a few film franchises so iconic that adding to them in any way shape or form would seem wrong and unthinkable to dedicated, diehard fans. Back to the Future, The Matrix and The Lord of the Rings are just a few film series that fit fall into that category. Most of the time when filmmakers try and supplement beloved film franchises with reimagined entries they turn out to be awful, much like last summer’s Ghostbusters or the last Indiana Jones flick. Despite this, one iconic film franchise had a new entry open in theaters this weekend.

War for the Planet of the Apes opens right after the primates have finished engaging in a battle with the humans. Having endured many casualties, the apes are looking to regroup, lick their wounds and figure out their next move in their quest for survival. However, soon after families are reunited, the humans – led by the ruthless, cold and calculating Colonel (Woody Harrelson) – launch a devastating and deadly attack. Convinced that their only hope for survival is to leave their home and seek out a foreign land, the apes prepare to leave the next morning. Despite knowing this is their best chance of staying alive, vengeance, not survival is what some apes have in mind.

Caesar, the leader of the apes, is after blood, more specifically, the Colonel’s. The Colonel murdered Caesar’s family and the leader of the apes is looking to exact revenge. Fueled by anger, Caesar and his closest friends set out for the Colonel. In the process, the apes learn more about themselves, the humans and their world. However, the apes’ blood-seeking quest soon puts not only their lives, but also the lives of all of their species in danger.

Except for a few instances that are painfully slow and rather unnecessary, War for Planet of the Apes is a superbly-written film. Characters are extremely well formed and fleshed out as the audience watches as they are forced to make one life-alerting choice after another. Nearly all the scenes are well crafted and bursting with tension. Simply put, the story is incredibly unique, engaging and thoroughly enjoyable.

While the story is what shines here, there a few noteworthy performances on display as well. Woody Harrelson, in limited screen time, as the evil Colonel is a treat, stealing every scene. Andy Serkis, in the lead as Caesar, is as equally good.

Despite being 20 minutes too long, War for the Planet of the Apes is a well written, directed and immensely entertaining film. At this point, it’s likely the summer’s best flick. 4 out of 5.