War For The Planet Of The Apes – As disease continues to decimate the human population, the ape community hopes to live in peace and its leader Caesar asks only that they be allowed to leave the forest and move on to greener pastures in order to secure a safer future. But a renegade human Colonel has other ideas, and provokes a final showdown

War For The Planet Of The Apes (2017) – Director: Matt Reeves

By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48616125

Rating: 12

Running Length: 140 mins

Starring: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn

Genre: Drama, Science Fiction, War

 

REVIEW – ‘WAR OF THE PLANET OF THE APES’

The final episode in a prequel trilogy to the 1960s-70s original series, ‘War for the Planet of the Apes’ is another stunningly realised science fiction drama which is for the most part every bit as impressive as the previous two films in the revived series, and brings things to a fitting and satisfying conclusion.

The effects work is seamless, and the title characters are convincing both as apes and as distinct personalities with inner lives and conflicts. Director Matt Reeves handles the action set pieces with confidence, and Andy Serkis gives perhaps an even better performance this time, as Caesar has more of a character arc – although Steve Zahn almost steals the film from him as the touching and hilarious ‘Bad Ape’.

The story dovetails neatly with the original films and presents a mostly convincing look at a world ravaged by disease and almost entirely abandoned to the elements and animals. In spite of the title there is perhaps less action in this film than in the previous episode, ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’, but this leaves more room for introspection and character development.

One downside is the length: a fairly simple linear story is stretched to two hours and twenty minutes (it could easily have been cut to two hours), and the middle section of the film seems to drag on forever. Reeves’ efforts to imbue the movie with a sense of gravitas and conclusion is fine, but some individual scenes hang around for far longer than is necessary, with repetition and lingeringly held close-ups long after the point of the scene has been made. And there are some weird lapses in logic that break the spell somewhat, such as characters have sign language conversations without actually looking at each other; one character infiltrating the baddies’ base without being seen despite walking across wide open spaces; and the fact that at key moments the soldiers suddenly lose the ability to shoot straight at point-blank range!

But otherwise this is an exciting and emotionally satisfying war drama with a refreshingly upbeat ending that does justice to a series worked hard to be more than just digging up an old franchise and, much like the simians themselves, battled beyond simply aping the previous efforts roots and evolved into a separate and distinct identity to be proud of.

CONTENT – IS ‘WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?

There are regular battle scenes with humans shooting apes and apes returning fire with bows and arrows. Bodies fly across the screen and fall dead but blood is rarely seen and shots of injuries are brief and goreless.

Characters are shown with blood on their faces, and several humans are shown to have nose bleeds, which is the first symptom of the disease which wipes out the human race. Later symptoms include an inability to speak properly, which distresses the victims and may also be disturbing for smaller children.

An ape finds the bloody remains of his family after they have been the victims of a massacre. He later encounters the bodies of other apes that have been tortured.

A human child is seen crying in distress at the death of an ape to whom she had grown attached.

Apes are chained and kept prisoner, they are whipped, starved and beaten. In one scene an ape is whipped, and while the injuries inflicted are only seen briefly and not in close up, the scene is painful both for that and for the other apes forced to watch.

A character appears drunk. He frequently drinks from a flask.

CAN I SEE A CLIP?
VERDICT – IS ‘WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES’ FOR KIDS?

War for the Planet of the Apes is a dark and at times violent drama, with numerous scenes of shown or implied suffering. But it’s also a powerful drama with moments of levity and even humour, and the ending implies a much brighter future than the dark and desperate times shown in the rest of the film. However, due to the tension and extent of the fighting and death on-screen we would recommend that this movie is suitable only for children aged 10 and over.

  • Violence: 3/5 (regular scenes of battle and both large-scale and intimate scenes of violence and physical torture)
  • Emotional Distress: 3/5 (characters are shown distressed at witnessing the suffering or death of friends and family)
  • Fear Factor: 2/5 (high tension and peril throughout)
  • Sexual Content: 0/5 (no sexual references)
  • Bad Language: 1/5 (a couple of moderate curse words)
  • Dialogue: 2/5 (verbal references to murder, genocide and disease)
  • Other notes: (deals with themes of martyrdom and sacrifice, genocide and war)

GUEST POST – Words kindly provided by Simon Litton

This review was a guest post by Simon Litton. He is a British national living in Brussels and contends that the close proximity of Belgian beer had nothing to do with that decision.

You can read his blog at https://simonlitton.wordpress.com/

 

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