War for the Planet of the Apes – a brilliantly bold conclusion to a thoughtful trilogy War for the Planet of the Apes – a brilliantly bold conclusion to a thoughtful trilogy
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War for the Planet of the Apes – a brilliantly bold conclusion to a thoughtful trilogy

More about personal conflict than all-out war, the final instalment of the Apes trilogy is one of the best franchise films in years.

Reviewed by Chris Edwards.

Matt Reeves's apocalyptic Apes films have never really been typical sci-blockbusters. They've been much more than that, exploring the theme of morality with primitive creatures who gradually end up showing more signs of humanity than humans themselves. And in War for the Planet of the Apes, the final instalment of a thoughtful trilogy, dramatic action sequences and uncanny motion capture effects merely add an attractive front cover to what is essentially a Shakespearean-style tragedy.
War for the Planet of the Apes – a brilliantly bold conclusion to a thoughtful trilogy
Set two years after the events of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the film opens with the human military staging an assault on the apes' home in an attempt to kill their leader Caesar (Andy Serkis), destroying any chance of a peaceful resolve between the two species. Enraged by the attack and unable to set his grievances aside, Caesar – joined by Rocket (Terry Notary), Luca (Michael Adamthwaite) and Maurice (Karin Konoval) – embarks on a personal journey to kill the human colonel (Woody Harrelson).

Having spent the majority of the last film convincing fellow ape Koba (Toby Kebbell) to resist his blood-thirsty hatred of humans, Caesar, still haunted by visions of his former friend, finds himself motivated by a similar need for vengeance. It's here that Reeves shifts the focus of the film from all-out war to personal conflict, allowing Serkis to give his most emotive motion capture performance yet.
War for the Planet of the Apes – a brilliantly bold conclusion to a thoughtful trilogy
What’s most impressive about War for the Planet of the Apes is that, in spite of its dramatic sense of occasion – bleak, snow-beaten forests lend a moody, end of the world vibe – it dares to tell its own story and satisfyingly conclude Caesar’s character arc. It’s still a sprawling cinematic spectacle, but with a more meaningful sense of purpose, it cements itself as one of the best franchise films in years.

War for the Planet of the Apes is out now; get times and tickets here.