War for the Planet of the Apes

Damn Dirty Humans


13 July 2017| No Comments on War for the Planet of the Apes     by Sean Chavel



A respectable end to the series if you wanted it to deliver just the expected, and yet I can’t help feel there should be much more. War for the Planet of the Apes has some allusions to atrocities of real war, with metaphors calling up WWII concentration camps or the systemic abuses of the construction of the transcontinental railroad, but it has a lot of redundant mood passages to remind us of the strife between surviving humans and apes. Better than typical blockbusters, it spends time setting up long shots for us to collect our senses. But it is dreary and mournful, somber and austere, languid and sluggish only offset my the only occasional striking image that reels you back for a few seconds.

As I had feared, the fate of the entire planet seems to rest primarily in the wages of conflict in the Pacific Northwest. I dunno, I wish it would tell us more what’s going on around the planet. I suppose it has been fair that it has stuck with the travails of one leader, Caesar (Andy Serkis), who for an ape, has remained a dynamic character. But that limits the film to being a drama compact to limited locations. The one human antagonist of the film is The Colonel, played tough as nails by Woody Harrelson. He has one great monologue that he engages with Caesar about halfway through the film that pours out his evil ideology. It’s a meaty food for thought scene, but at the same time, he’s spilling the beans on his master plan. It’s exposition.

The Colonel is the overseer of one fortress that has a lot of pride invested in it. There are no women, so I’m not sure how the Colonel will foresee how humans will be able to reclaim the planet if they cannot procreate. This one-time military base comes off as a dismal fortress/hangar/factory/prison to me. Yet he is making apes build a great wall around it – and I thought – will the apes blow it up in retaliation like the prisoners of “The Bridge on the River Kwai?” I was never convinced that the Colonel and his guerilla army could keep a stronghold on the apes, for I also was never convinced as to why these apes couldn’t revolt at a sooner time before Caesar’s capture. The Colonel seems to famish the apes, work them hard, and occasionally execute an ape that’s out of line.

Tough as nails, but these apes should be able to overtake them. The special effects scene with an avalanche has enormous breadth, and is certainly awesome, but we never get clued into what was the catalyst to it. There’s one girl in the film, an orphan, but she comes off more preciously regarded by the apes then the humans. Fine, but her character is certainly worth discussion points.

Technically, the film is well-made by director Matt Reeves. Yet I don’t think anybody behind the scenes thought big enough. It’s a serviceable ending to a prominent franchise. But I also ask myself also if I’m really entertained by it? Only a little bit engaged.

140 Minutes. Rated PG-13.


Film Cousins: “Planet of the Apes” (1968); “Conquest of the Planet of the Apes” (1972);  “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” (2011); “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” (2013).





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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


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