War for the Planet of the Apes appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. As expected, this became a strong visual presentation.
Sharpness worked well, as I detected virtually no signs of softness. Instead, the movie remained accurate and concise. I witnessed no jagged edges or moiré effects, and both edge haloes and print flaws remained absent.
In terms of colors, War went with a chilly teal-oriented palette that also boasted splashes of orange. These hues lacked originality but the Blu-ray replicated them well.
Blacks seemed deep and dark, while shadows appeared smooth and clear. At all times, this turned into a pleasing image.
I also felt happy with the well-rendered DTS—HD MA 7.1 soundtrack of War. It created an involving soundscape that consistently used all the channels to its advantage.
This meant vivid punch in the various action scenes, of course, as those presented gunfire, explosions and other elements in appropriate spots all around the room. Quieter scenes worked well, too, as those created an inviting sense of place and environment. All these components blended together in a smooth, enveloping manner.
Audio quality worked fine, with natural, distinctive speech. Music was bold and bright, while effects showed accurate tones as well as deep, rich bass response. The soundtrack added kick to the proceedings and served the movie well.
As we shift to extras, we open with an audio commentary from writer/director Matt Reeves. He delivers a running, screen-specific look at story/characters and the path from Dawn, influences and inspirations, cast and performances, sets and locations, effects, music and cinematography, and various challenges.
A commentary for a film like War could easily become bogged down in technical minutiae, but Reeves avoids that trap. While he provides a good layer of information about those domains, he leavens the track with notes about the creative side of things. This becomes a well-balanced and thoroughly involving discussion of the movie.
10 Deleted Scenes fill a total of 23 minutes, three seconds. These offer a mix of fairly minor plot/character beats that seem moderately interesting. I can’t claim any of them offer lost nuggets of gold, though – they’re worth a look but not especially meaningful.
We can view these with or without commentary from Reeves. He tells us some background for the scenes as well as why they didn’t make the final cut. He continues to present useful information.
A few featurettes follow, and these start with Waging War for the Planet of the Apes, a 29-minute, 38-second piece with Reeves, co-writer Mark Bomback, producer Dylan Clark, costume designer Melissa Bruning, property master Douglas Harlocker, production designer James Chinlund, military advisor Thomas Potter, armourer Rob Fournier, special effects coordinator Joel Whist, and actors Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Amiah Miller, Karin Konoval, Steve Zahn, Terry Notary, Ty Olsson, Michael Adamthwaite, and Gabriel Chavarria.
“Waging” examines influences and story/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, costumes and props, stunts and action. Because Reeves covers so much in his commentary, inevitably “Waging” duplicates some content. That said, it gives us useful new perspectives as well as ample behind the scenes footage, factors that allow it to become a lively, informative show.
During the 12-minute, 40-second All About Caesar, we hear from Reeves, Serkis, Bomback, Clark, visual effects supervisor Dan Lemmon, and author/film historian Rich Handley. As expected, this piece looks at the Caesar character’s evolution and Serkis’s performance. It throws in a few good elements – with more fun shots from the set – but it lacks the substance of “Waging”.
Effects come to the fore with Weta: Pushing Boundaries. It goes for 10 minutes, 36 seconds and includes Reeves, Lemmon, Serkis, senior visual effects coordinator Joe Letteri, co-producer Ryan Stafford, and visual effects supervisors Erik Winquist, Mark Gee and Luke Millar. Like the title implies, “Boundaries” looks at the visual effects work Weta did for the film. It becomes an efficient overview.
Next we get Music For Apes, a six-minute, 20-second show that involves Reeves and composer Michael Giacchino. We visit the recording studio and hear from Emil Richards, the percussionist who has worked on all the Apes movies since 1968. This becomes a fair glimpse of the musical processes.
Apes: The Meaning of It All fills 20 minutes, 15 seconds with info from Serkis, Clark, Zahn, Handley, Harrelson, Bomback, Reeves, and film historians Joe Fordham and Jeff Bond. The participants look back at the original Apes and aspects of the rebooted franchise. This turns into a decent overview, though not one with a ton of substance – it’s more an appreciation than anything else.
Finally, The Apes Saga: An Homage lasts seven minutes, 48 seconds and delivers material from Reeves, Clark, Fordham, Bomback, Bond and Handley. “Homage” looks at links between War and other Apes movies. It’s a fun exploration of these nods and influences.
In addition to three trailers, we end with a Concept Art Gallery. It breaks into three domains: “Characters” (8 images), “Drawings” (7) and “Paintings” (85). All offer good elements, though obviously “Paintings” provides the most substance.
As the third film in the series, War for the Planet of the Apes could’ve spun its wheels, but instead, it delivers a vivid tale of its own. The movie offers an unusual character orientation that allows it to create a vivid, involving narrative. The Blu-ray presents excellent picture and audio along with generally informative supplements. I hope we get more Apes films, as War continues the franchise well.