July 19, 2017

War for the Planet of the Apes: Trilogy’s Finale Pits Primates Against Humans in Showdown

War for the Planet of the Apes is the ninth movie in the film series that began almost 50 years ago with Planet of the Apes. The original groundbreaking science-fiction adventure was based on the novel of the same name by Pierre Boulle, who also wrote The Bridge Over the River Kwai.

That book was adapted to the movie by two scriptwriters: Rod Serling (The Twilight Zone) and Oscar-winner Michael Wilson (The Bridge Over the River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia, It’s a Wonderful Life, and A Place in the Sun). So, it’s no surprise that that movie’s thought-provoking social commentary resonated with critics and audiences.

In that movie, the apes’ masks were so skillfully made that the Motion Picture Academy awarded the movie’s makeup artist, John Chambers, an honorary Oscar. However, it wasn’t until the ’80s that Best Makeup became an official Academy Award category.

War for the Planet of the Apes is the finale in a trilogy that recreated the series in 2011, starting with Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and followed a few years later by Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Fortunately you don’t need to recall, or even have seen, the earlier pictures to fully appreciate this movie.

Additionally, the use of the latest computer graphic image technology has been so skillfully applied that you never once doubt that you’re watching real apes interacting with humans. The best news is that the movie is a morality play of Shakespearean proportions that explores many universal themes on the way to the showdown that settles the fate of both species once and for all.

The apes are again led by Caesar (Andy Serkis), who matches wits with a ruthless army colonel (Woody Harrelson). Between the sophisticated storytelling and the state-of-the-art special effects, War for the Planet of the Apes is a touching finale for the series.

Excellent (****). Rated PG-13 for action, violence, mature themes, and disturbing images. Running time: 140 minutes. Production Studio: Chernin Entertainment. Distributor: 20th Century Fox.