- Cast: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson
- Director: Matt Reeves
- Language: English (DTS 5.1)
- Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
- Dubbed: French, Spanish
- Region: Region A/1
- Number of discs: 2
- Rated: PG-13
- Studio: 20th Century Fox
- Release Date: October 24, 2017
- Run Time: 130 minutes
Even though War for the Planet of the Apes fit in with nearly every tent-pole franchise release that came out in theaters this summer, it may have been the only one that didn’t leave me under-whelmed and disappointed. Yes, it was a prequel/sequel, filled with flashy special effects and a large budget, but it is also one of the most thoughtful films of the year, elevated by its themes and performances to be far more than just a summer blockbuster. And if special effects and studio genre films are your thing, this is not only among the best of the year, and it also concludes the most consistent trilogy to come out of Hollywood in a long while.
Whereas Rise of the Planet if the Apes showed the scientific origins which led to the creation of the intelligent apes, and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes presented humanity’s hubris and poor treatment of their own inadvertent creations leading to an uprising amongst them, War for the Planet of the Apes is ultimately about the moral decisions that must be made when the power roles are reversed. Without getting into the allegories presented in the narratives, each of these films have managed to be timely without feeling like political propaganda, and this is most apparent in this final installment. It may be a dark movie in many regards, but it also feels necessary for the franchise and fitting for the times.
Despite the violent uprising of apes in the last installment, Caesar (Andy Serkis in another award-worthy motion-capture performance) hopes to find peace with the humans. At first this seems possible, but a new military commander for the humans has different plans. With ruthless methods, The Colonel (Woody Harrelson) attempts to wipe out the apes entirely, but even he is unprepared for the ways that the human race is changing. Part of The Colonel’s evil methods includes a prison camp for the apes, very clearly mirroring some of history’s ugliest moments of human conflict. Caesar is faced with difficult decisions in order to protect his people, making this film far more about the war of internal conflict than any real external battles. While there is some action, that is not the focus of Matt Reeves’ thoughtful conclusion to the trilogy, and it is a better movie because of this restraint.
The Blu-ray release of War for the Planet of the Apes comes with DVD and Digital HD copies of the film. The special features on the disc are the same for both the Blu-ray and DVD copies. The highlight is a director’s commentary by Reeves, who also provides optional commentary on the 23-minutes worth of deleted scenes also included. There is also a featurette delving into the intended allegories that are found in the film’s narrative, a promotional featurette with cast/crew interviews, a featurette about the cutting edge special effects by WETA, and one about the emotional score written for the film by Michael Giacchino, a regular collaborator with Reeves. And there are even a couple of featurettes that trace the franchise back to the original 1968 film, one of which discusses the ways that the new film makes connections to the past installments.
Entertainment Value: 8.5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 9/10
Historical Significance: 8/10
Special Features: 8.5/10