‘War for the Planet of the Apes’ Is ‘What a Summer Movie Should Be,’ Critics Say

Reviews hail Matt Reeves’ sci-fi film as a powerful conclusion to an excellent film trilogy

war for the planet of the apes trailer

“War for the Planet of the Apes” is on its way to joining “Wonder Woman” as one of the best-reviewed films of the summer, with critics hailing it as a powerful conclusion to Fox’s reboot trilogy of the classic 1968 film. With early reviews still coming in, the film currently has a 90 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, same as its 2014 predecessor, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.”

TheWrap’s Alonso Duralde was among those that praised the film, giving particular acclaim to Andy Serkis for his performance as the apes’ leader, Caesar, and to the CGI team at Weta Digital for bringing the apes to life.

“We take the effects work of the ‘Apes’ films for granted because it’s both seamless and ambitious, but “War” takes mo-cap to new heights,” Duralde wrote. “…these three films make us believe what we’re seeing without ever thinking about the complicated technology or hours of detailed work required in the post-production process.”

“War” concludes the story of Caesar, who has risen from an ape in captivity in San Francisco to the leader of Earth’s new dominant species, as he reluctantly goes to war with what few human troops remain. But when a ruthless colonel (Woody Harrelson) raids the apes’ home and kills Caesar’s wife and child, Caesar goes on a quest with a few close confidants to eliminate the Colonel and his men. The film is directed by Matt Reeves, who co-wrote the film with Mark Bomback.

“War for the Planet of the Apes” arrives in theaters July 14. Check out more reviews below.

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Michael Gingold, Birth.Movies.Death.

“Both the CG technology and, even more crucially, the established individual personalities of these primates are strong enough that director Matt Reeves can create many compelling sequences populated entirely by digitally created, largely nonverbal characters. This may be the only megapicture in Hollywood history in which at least half the dialogue is conveyed in subtitled sign language, and Reeves doesn’t even show us all the hand gestures; he keeps his shots focused on the expressive faces of his ape protagonists.”

Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger

“‘Apocalypse Now’ isn’t the only movie that hangs over ‘War for the Planet of the Apes.’ There’s also a bit of ‘Bridge on the River Kwai’ here. Some ‘Schindler’s List.’ And – boldly, even blatantly — ‘The Ten Commandments,’ which overwhelms the last few scenes with religious imagery.”

Bilge Ebiri, Village Voice

“Somehow, while we were worrying about superheroes and star destroyers and hot rods and whether Captain America could beat up Superman or whatever, the goddamn ‘Planet of the Apes’ movies became the most vital and resonant big budget film series in the contemporary movie firmament.”

Chris Bumbray, JoBlo

“As the antagonist, Harrelson’s performance ranks with the best of his career, and while many are comparing him to Brando’s Colonel Kurtz, there’s more to it than that – giving him some shading that I didn’t anticipate. He’s certainly the villain, but he doesn’t think he is, and Harrelson draws on his talent in a way that’s beyond the norm.”

Mike Reyes, CinemaBlend

“Reeves and Bomback have put together a film that is so densely paced that it does truly feel like the slowest of the bunch. But as a result, they have layered the film with symbology and meaning that fulfill the historical, Shakespearian, and even biblical influences to which Caesar’s story has always alluded. Even with fresh characters like Steve Zahn’s Bad Ape, the film manages to give us a new personality to latch onto in the world of the apes, while at the same time not making any of the established characters any poorer as a result.”