Now that I have finally gotten to see it (thanks to an annoyingly delayed local release date), I can understand why, despite mostly stellar reviews, Matt Reeves' WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES has been met with a more tepid box-office reception in the US than its 2014 predecessor, DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. WAR is a much more downbeat film, and though it doesn't really have a whole lot of actual combat, there's plenty of tension and a few truly beautiful and touching moments to be found.
I thought some of the sentiment was a bit over-wrought and, though I found him very endearing and remarkably well-realised, I was worried a couple of times that the "Bad Ape" character was taking the film into a realm of forced humour, something which the first two films in this trilogy had admiringly avoided. But there is still a lot of intelligence and food for thought to be found here, along with spectacle and pure entertainment. A true blockbuster with a heart and a brain.
2017 has been something of a banner year for combining war with fantasy, with KONG: SKULL ISLAND, WONDER WOMAN and now WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES, which has more than a few nods to APOCALYPSE NOW (none more prominent than Woody Harrelson's great performance as a crazed, rogue military leader known as "The Colonel").
My initial thoughts are that WAR doesn't quite measure up to DAWN or RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (2011), but the gap between them all is very small and as a trilogy they have succeeded in doing justice to the original 1968-1973 series of films while creating a unique mythology of their own. Something I honestly thought I would never live to see as I exited the cinema after first watching Tim Burton's 2001 attempt at retooling the concept.