War For The Planet of the Apes                         review by Bobby Blakey

I am a huge Planet of the Apes fan so when they announced they were once again rebooting the franchise with 2011s Rise of the Planet of the Apes I was a bit nervous like most fans were. Surprisingly the film delivered more than we all expected and was really good and kicked off the series with a  bang leading right into 2014s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. The second entry was as good if not better cementing that fact that this franchise was here to stay. Fans have been eagerly awaiting the next chapter with War for the Planet of the Apes starring Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Judy Greer, Karin Konoval, Amiah Miller, and Terry Notary, but does it live up to the previous installments or will it not be worth watching this damn dirty ape?

War for the Planet of the Apes follows Caesar and his apes who are forced into a deadly conflict with an army of humans led by a ruthless Colonel.  After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind.  As the journey finally brings them face to face, Caesar and the Colonel are pitted against each other in an epic battle that will determine the fate of both their species and the future of the planet. I loved the previous two installments to this prequel series so going in had high hopes, but tried to keep my expectations in check. Thankfully that wasn’t necessary as this one is the best one yet. This is that rare series that just keeps getting better and better. Director Matt Reeves has crafted a brilliant film with all of the minor issues that may have plagued some of the previous entries gone to make a pure ape film. For the first time in this series the majority of the time is spent with the apes and didn’t feel the need to inject tons of human characters to drive the story. Sure there are plenty here, but this is the apes story all the way.

Outside of the effects the big reason fans buy into the ape characters at all is due to the actors and none are more brilliant than Andy Serkis. He puts everything he has into this role offering up a wide range of emotions to Caesar that takes the character to the next level. Early in the film something happens that changes everything taking Caesar into a much darker territory. This time around we get more apes speaking, riding horses and more making it start to feel more like the original world that we were introduced to in the original films. Everyone in the cast bring that something special to their role that helps you truly care about these characters. Visually it is as stunning as ever with you fully believing that everything here is real. It takes a lot to do that many long close ups and focus shots on CGI characters to make you still believe this character is a living breathing thing and they have knocked it out of the park.

Despite this film being titled War there is actually not a ton of action here. Sure there are some massive battles and moments, but this is a character driven story more than anything else. In most cases this would be an issue, but for me I was so much more invested and surprised by the approach they took to make it work. There are some heart wrenching moments in this film that will not only pull at your heart strings and emotions, but never feels forced. You love these characters so much that you invest in their struggle and root for them to succeed and it hurts when they don’t. It really amazed me to how much depth there is to this latest chapter that touches on so many social issues in the world while still making you feel like you are just dealing with their situation, but will be impossible to not see it.

There are some great surprises here and an ending that will uplift and destroy you all at once. I love everything about this film and the world they have created with this new trilogy that pays homage to the original films all while building to connect in its own special way. I know that this is possibly the final film in the series, but there is a whole new direction to go with it now and more stories to tell before we get to the version of the world we know so hope we get more, but if not this is a hell of a way to close it out.

In addition to the film this release includes a ton of bonus content including deleted scenes, featurettes and more. Join the final battle when War For the Planet of the Apes hits Digital HD on October 10th and then on 4K Ultra, Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D and DVD on October 24th from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

As if this wasn’t a big enough announcement Fox has announced on October 24th they will also be releasing an all-new Planet of the Apes trilogy bringing the entire new series together in one set complete with bonus content.

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