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Running Time:
2 hours, 20 minutes

Rating: PG-13 Parents Strongly Cautioned.

Rating Explanation:
for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, thematic elements, and some disturbing images

Jimmy's Buzz Guide Review:
Although the breathtaking special effects may make it look like an action film, it has the soul of an art-house drama and the brains of a political thriller.

Additional Info:
Andy Serkis ... Caesar
Woody Harrelson ... The Colonel
Steve Zahn ... Bad Ape
Karin Konoval ... Maurice
Amiah Miller ... Nova
Terry Notary ... Rocket
Ty Olsson ... Red Donkey
Michael Adamthwaite ... Luca
Toby Kebbell ... Koba
Gabriel Chavarria ... Preacher
Judy Greer ... Cornelia
Sara Canning ... Lake
Devyn Dalton ... Cornelius
Aleks Paunovic ... Winter
Alessandro Juliani ... Spear

War for the Planet of the Apes
War for the Planet of the Apes has some of the richest characterizations of all the “Apes” movies, along with the next-level special effects work of bringing an ape army to life with expressive, emotional faces. Like its two predecessors, it has its flaws — and each of them has had unique ones — but overall, this is a trilogy that will stand as an example of how to remake and reimagine familiar material in a way that respects the original while also enhancing it.
Following the death of human-hating ape Koba (Toby Kebbell) and skirmishes with what’s left of the U.S. Army, Caesar (Andy Serkis) hopes to lead his ape community to a new home where they can finally live in peace. But as the film opens, a squadron of soldiers is advancing upon the apes’ forest hideaway, leading to a violent clash. Caesar spares the lives of a handful of humans so they can tell their commanding office, the Colonel (Woody Harrelson), to back off, but the Colonel instead mounts another attack, killing several apes in Caesar’s immediate family.

Obsessed with revenge, Caesar sends the other apes off to find their new homeland while he deals with the Colonel, but he is joined by several close confidants, including Maurice (Karin Konoval), Rocket (Terry Notary) and Luca (Michael Adamthwaite). Along the way, the group grows to include a young mute girl (Amiah Miller) and escaped zoo animal Bad Ape (Steve Zahn), who has been hiding out in an abandoned ski resort.

Caesar comes to learn that the Colonel has captured Caesar’s entire tribe, imprisoning them in a labor camp for diabolical purposes, leading to the inevitable titular conflict. The screenplay makes it clear that Caesar’s lust for vengeance has blinded him from his duties as a leader, and that his failure to forgive has led to the coming bloodshed.
Whereas previous Apes movies made Caesar one of the only notable characters, aided greatly by Serkis’ brilliantly empathetic and expressive motion-capture work, here we get a more intricate ensemble of characters, with Maurice and Bad Ape in particular standing on their own. (It’s because these protagonists are so fully fleshed-out that the film earns its visual references to the westerns of John Ford and its thematic shout-outs to the Old Testament.) Granted, the human characters are once again far less interesting, but making us relate so much to Caesar and his comrades is what helps to underscore the pacifist bent of the series. After all, if we’re rooting for one side, and we are the other side, shouldn’t we want both sides to avoid conflict altogether?

The action proceeds at a thrilling clip, aided immensely by the great Michael Giacchino score. The composer never settles into a groove, with instrumentations varying from simple percussion to full orchestra, and with themes that never feel like mere repetitions of what has come before. It’s a stirring soundtrack that accentuates, but never overwhelms, what we’re seeing.

We take the effects work of the Apes films for granted because it’s both seamless and ambitious, but this takes motion-capture to new heights. Whether it’s an army of apes on horseback or the climactic blow-out battle, or intimate moments between Maurice and the equally mute young girl, these films make us believe what we’re seeing without ever thinking about the complicated technology or hours of detailed work required in the post-production process.



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