The Culture Movies

'War for the Planet of the Apes' is among the best of the series

The incomparable Andy Serkis returns as Caesar in the third film of the rebooted sci-fi trilogy. 

A scene from 'War for the Planet of the Apes.'
Twentieth Century Fox/AP
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( PG-13 )
  • Peter Rainer
    Film critic

“War for the Planet of the Apes,” the third in the rebooted trilogy, is among the best of the series. Nothing, to my taste, beats the 1968 original "Planet of the Apes," but then again, few sci-fi films have matched that movie’s mix of thrills, high camp, and high concept, plus that great kicker of an ending.

The refashioned high concept here has the apes now in charge of most of the planet. However, an incursion of humans, fighting for the survival of their species, has forced the band of apes led by the Moses-like Caesar (the incomparable Andy Serkis) to flee their Muir Woods sanctuary to greener pastures.

Caesar’s adversary – if you don’t count his recurring memories of the human-hating Koba – is the bald-pated American colonel played lethally well by Woody Harrelson. (The brackish scenes of captured apes rounded up in slave camps is as harrowing as the slaughterhouse scenes with the superpigs in “Okja.”) Given the fact that both apes and humans are fighting against extinction, the stakes in their battles are sky high, and director Matt Reeves, a series veteran, never lets you forget it. Grade: B+ (Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, thematic elements, and some disturbing images.)

[Editor's note: The original version of this review included an inaccurate description of one of the characters.]

     

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