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War for the Planet of the Apes: Movie Review

With all the big-budget, bloated, sub-par franchises in your local multiplex right now, like “Transformers”, “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Despicable Me”, it’s nice to have a film like “War for the Planet of the Apes” for people who want to watch something that looks epic and is actually good. The “Planet of the Apes” franchise reboot could have been something truly awful (like when Tim Burton tried to do it).  However, the three films in the trilogy have continued to impress with each chapter.  The quality in writing and directing in “War for the Planet of the Apes” is what big budget franchises should strive for.

Writer/director Matt Reeves has proven that he knows how to handle character-based sci-fi. If you look at “Cloverfield”, “Let Me In”, and his two “Planet of the Apes” films, they all have strong characters which are brought to life with perfect casting.  As epic as “War” feels it is a very simple story and a grim one at that.

Andy Serkis returns in all his motion-capture glory as Caesar, the king of the apes.  When his wife and older son are killed by The Colonel (Woody Harrelson), he goes on a mission with his trusted friends to seek revenge.  What Caesar does not see coming is his tribe along with his youngest son being captured by The Colonel and forced to work in a concentration camp for apes.

Before getting captured himself, Caesar picks up two new additions, a young human girl who doesn’t speak (Amiah Miller), and another talking ape that calls himself Bad Ape (Steve Zahn).  The latter provided the film’s only, yet limited comic relief.  There are very few laughs to be had in “War” as it is essentially a war film mostly set in a prisoner camp.   This is a good thing, as studios usually push to make their massive budget films more appealing to kids.  That isn’t even attempted here.  “War” is dark, grim, sad, and oh so wonderful.

By: Marc Ferman