War for the Planet of the Apes

Jul 14, 2017

No monkeying around--it's solid entertainment.

War for the Planet of the Apes

Grade: B

Director: Matt Reeves (Cloverfield)

Screenplay: reeves, Mark Bomback (The Wolverine), from the Pierre Boulle novel

Cast: Andy Serkis (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), Judy Greer (Jurassic World)

Rating: PG-13


by John DeSando

“You (Apes) are impressive. Smart as hell. You're stronger than we are. But you're taking this all much too personally! So Emotional.” Colonel (Woody Harrelson)

War for the Planet of the Apes, the newest entry in the Planet trilogy, is not unlike other war movies, except the driving force here is apes. This third iteration about the ongoing war between humans and their simian foes is mostly about head ape, Caesar (Andy Serkis), taking war to his arch human rival, the Colonel.

As in The Great Escape and countless WWII dramas about POW’s and their struggle to escape imprisonment, this adventure spends much of the movie in a plan to release captive apes and dispatch the Colonel. Woody Harrelson is all bald, sun glasses, and attitude, similar to commandants from Bridge on the River Kwai to Schindler’s List. His bald head and incoherent ravings would remind you of Col. Kurtz, played by Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now.

One of the film’s strengths is Michael Seresin’s cinematography, grey and primitive, like the apes themselves. Of course, the motion capture, costuming, and makeup are first rate. Yet, after you get over admiring the look, the story is boiler plate human need for survival. This War stands tall with the best films depicting humans in stress acting nobly or cowardly, regardless of whether they are apes or not.

“All of human history has lead to this moment. The irony is we created you. And nature has been punishing us ever since. This is our last stand. And if we lose... it will be a Planet of Apes.” Colonel

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at