Written By: Nick Poulimenakos
Matt Reeves is back again this summer blockbuster season with the third film in the revived Planet of the Apes trilogy, War for the Planet of the Apes. The film takes place two years after the events of the critically acclaimed Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. The series has the potential to be one of the greatest film trilogies in cinematic history, with each film improving upon the last. So, did War for the Planet of the Apes succeed in doing this? In what shouldn’t be a shock at all, of course it did!
The film currently sits at an incredible 91% rating on Rotten Tomatoes with critics praising the performances, the action, the cinematography and the raw emotion felt by the characters. Let’s see what critics are saying:
Chris Nashawaty from Entertainment Weekly:
When Caesar finally reaches the Colonel’s fortified mountain compound, he sees his fellow apes in chains as prisoners. Or are they bait? Caesar and his team need to break them out in true McQueen/Bronson style. If War occasionally lapses into mawkish, melodramatic moments it doesn’t need (or that Reeves’ and Mark Bomback’s script can’t fully support—apparently apes can be as corny as humans), War more than makes up for it with sequences of such eye-candy spectacle you won’t cry foul. I’m not sure where the Apes franchise goes from here exactly. Or if it even goes anywhere. But if this is the series’ swan song, it’s going out on top. B+
Alonso Duralde from The Wrap:
There’s that old saying that you don’t judge how a bear rides a bicycle because the achievement is that he does it at all. In the case of this trilogy, we don’t just believe that apes can walk and talk — they’re thinking and feeling and emoting. And Andy Serkis is giving a tour de force performance. (Or, in bears-on-bikes terms, a Tour de France one.)
Scott Collura from IGN:
War for the Planet of the Apes is an excellent closing act to this rebooted trilogy, but also one that does enough world-building that the series can potentially continue from here – and it’s a rare case where, after three movies, we’re left wanting more. Andy Serkis is once again outstanding as Caesar as he wrestles with the morality of inter-species warfare, and his supporting cast almost all provide memorable and striking performances as well. They’re assisted by seamless effects, which seldom have the luxury of not having to try to carry a whole blockbuster on their own. Director Matt Reeves and co-writer Mark Bomback display a fantastic ability for both spectacle and restraint in delivering one of the best summer blockbusters in years.
Peter Debruge from Variety:
Reeves asks us to empathize with Caesar on a quest that defies everything the character has previously stood for, then gives him an easy way out when it finally comes time to exact his revenge. Likewise, he promises a war movie, then delivers a show-stopping avalanche at precisely the moment both sides are expected to do battle. By quoting from some of cinema’s best adventure movies, Reeves has safely satisfied the fanboy contingent, and yet the ease with which he eradicates the human race betrays an alarming soullessness that even the most pixel-perfect performance-capture can’t excuse.
Mike Reyes from Cinemablend:
The Planet of the Apes reboot has been a brief, but immensely rewarding journey. Seeing the development of the ape who would be king has been a real treat, and it’s one that’s only gotten sweeter with Matt Reeves directing and Michael Giacchino’s scoring. Unlike his literary namesake, this film does not come to bury Caesar, but rather to praise him at full voice. A deliberately paced epic that closes the trilogy on a high note, War for the Planet of the Apes is not only one of the smartest movies of the year, it’s possibly the best film of the summer.
Scott Mendelson from Forbes:
The picture is an audio/visual marvel from beginning to end. It offers action only when necessary (along with a climax that doesn’t just repeat the last film’s apes versus humans mass battle sequence) and trusting the audience to understand and embrace brutal and violent near-silent picture absent much in the way of conventional crowdpleasing tropes. Written by Matt Reeves and Mark Bomback, this Chernin Entertainment production is a splendid example of Fox’s “blockbusters for adults” strategy. It’s also one of the best movies of the summer and another genre triumph for its director. With jaw-dropping special effects and poignant character work and all-too-topical subtexts, it is arguably the best Planet of the Apes movie yet.
Mike Ryan from UPROXX:
The War For the Planet of the Apes is less “action movie” (though there are some explosions) and more a meditation on the definition of humanity. It’s extremely ambitious and I almost can’t believe it exists. The first film was from the human standpoint. The second film gave us a fairly nuanced look at both sides. Now this third takes us all in with the apes as the main characters. And it somehow works. It’s actually heartening to know that “summer blockbuster”-type movies like this can still be made.
David Crow from Den of Geek:
Ultimately, War for the Planet of the Apes is a beautifully crafted piece of cinema with grand aims. It does not completely stick its landing, but it remains a moving capstone on the two films that preceded it, fading out with complete integrity. If this were the final Planet of the Apes movie, it would end on a high note. Yet for once, the knowledge that it won’t be the last is reassuring since this has become one of the richest storytelling playgrounds in modern blockbuster movie making.
So what do you think? Are you going to see War for the Planet of the Apes this weekend? Comment below and on social media and for all things in nerd culture and entertainment, keep it locked on Talkies Network!