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DVD Review

DVD cover

War for the Planet of the Apes


Starring: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson and Steve Zahn
Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
Certificate: 12
Release Date: 27 November 2017

Two years following Koba’s attack on the remaining survivors of San Francisco, the human army finally arrives to deal with the ape colony. Forced into a war, not of his making, Caesar determines to move the colony and so avoid furthering the war. Before the apes can move the humans attack under their commander, The Colonel, killing Caesar's wife and son. Driven to the edge Caesar sets off to kill the Colonel...

War for the Planet of the Apes (2017. 2 hr, 14 min, 24 sec) is the last in the trilogy of ape films, directed by Matt Reeves (Cloverfield (2008), Let Me In (2010), Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)). The script was written by Mark Bomback and Matt Reeves.

The film opens with, bizarrely, the only full on battle between the army and the apes. In this sense the film’s title is a bit of a red herring as the movie predominantly deals with Caesar's internal war, whether, following the death of most of his family, does he take Koba’s path, unable to get past what the humans have done to him or can he find that noble part of him which has always tried to find a peaceful resolution. This is not to say that there are not set piece battles. The end of film has a long-extended battle with various skirmishes throughout.

Pitted against Caesar (Andy Serkis) is the Colonel played by the ever-versatile Woody Harrelson in full Colonel Walter E. Kurtz mode, including the inevitable head shaving shot. I don’t think that this was a mistake as the film plays homage to many other war films, using them to add texture to a film which almost wholly stays with Caesar. It is his journey which we witness as he is finally taught vengeance by the humans, for an ape who has sought only coexistence during the first two films he has to travel through his own personal heart of darkness with no guarantee that he will not turn into another Koba.

It seems appropriate to harken back to previous war films to add colour and hue to the film, reinforcing the violent natures of the humans in comparison with the apes which live nearer to nature. A feeling which will resonate in the audience as they catch noticeable tones within the movie. It’s worth noting that the cinematography of Michael Seresin does much to differentiate between in the innate natures of both man and ape.

Serkis's acting is so convincing that you forget that you are rooting for an ape, rather you are caught up with his journey from the temptation of taking on human characteristics or finding his way back to his naturally peaceful centre.

The film is not all darkness and Reeves understands that to truly appreciate darkness there must be a comparable light. The newest ape character is Bad Ape (Steve Zahn) who on a surface level acts as the film's comic relief. More importantly he is the only other ape we meet which is a fluent in English as Caesar. The film offers up a crucial point about the evolution of the simian flu and what it means for humans and apes alike will change the planet for good.

There was always an intention to honour the original Ape movies without having to compromise the story so that it fit perfectly. The introduction of the young mute girl, Nova (Amiah Miller) is such a note as is the name of Caesar's wife, Cornelia (Judy Greer) which harkens back to the first film.

For extras you get, All about Caesar (12 min, 09 sec) covers the portrayal of the character by Andy Serkis and the development of Caesar as an evolving character. There a lot of footage of the mocap as well as side by side comparisons between the mocap and the finished film. Concept Art Gallery has three mains categories, Characters (8), Drawings (7) and Paintings (83). There is also a full-length audio commentary by the director.

The film ends on a poignant note which seems the perfect way to end Caesars journey from wide eyes innocent to leader of his people.


Charles Packer

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