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Matt Reeves
Woody Harrelson, Andy Serkis, Steve Zahn
Writing Credits:
Matt Reeves, Mark Bomback

After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind.

Box Office:
$150 million.
Opening Weekend
$56,262,929 on 4022 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 7.1
English Descriptive Audio 5.1
Spanish Dolby 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 140 min.
Price: $34.99
Release Date: 10/24/2017

• Audio Commentary with Director Matt Reeves
• 10 Deleted Scenes
• “Waging War” Featurette
• “All About Caesar” Featurette
• “Pushing Boundaries” Featurette
• “Music For Apes” Featurette
• “The Meaning of It All Featurette
• “The Apes Saga: An Homage” Featurette
• Concept Art Gallery
• 3 Trailers


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


War For The Planet Of The Apes [Blu-Ray] (2017)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 22, 2017)

In 2011, Rise of the Planet of the Apes rebooted the dormant movie franchise, and 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes continued the series. A third entry arrives via 2017’s War for the Planet of the Apes.

After a virus decimated the Earth’s population, mankind battles against the intelligent apes that rose along the way. Led by Caesar (Andy Serkis), the apes desire peace, but many humans still want to exterminate the simians.

This leads to a battle between Caesar’s crew and men under the command of Colonel McCullough (Woody Harrelson). The fight becomes more personal when the Colonel’s crew kills some of Caesar’s family – and takes an unexpected turn when a mute girl named Nova (Amiah Miller) finds herself in the apes’ fold.

I’ll be curious to see where the Apes franchise goes from here, mainly because War seems destined to go down as a box office disappointment. In the end, I think it turned a profit, as it made $485 million worldwide on a budget of $150 million.

However, that represented a pretty steep drop from the $710 million earned by Dawn. War’s worldwide gross closely approximated the $481 million of Rise, but the latter cost much less money, so it represented a more profitable affair.

As one who’s enjoyed the rebooted Apes franchise, I’ll feel disappointed if War concludes the series. The three films have set a high bar for the way reboots should work.

When I saw the movie theatrically, though, I found it to be slower and less stimulating than anticipated. For a movie with “war” in the title, it seemed surprisingly draggy and without a ton of excitement.

Often when I view a movie theatrically, I’ll write up my review right away. This saves me a step down the road when I assess the home video release, and it allows me to cover my thoughts while fresh.

In the case of War, though, I didn’t do this, mainly because of my expectations. Between my enjoyment of the first two movies and the action orientation implied by the title, War set me down a certain anticipated path – without that mindset, I thought my second viewing would allow me better appreciation for what it does deliver, not what I thought it’d bring.

So how does War wear on second screening? Better – while I still prefer the first two films, the third works well now that I can appreciate it without the taint of my preconceived notions.

The characters of War create a major change across the series. In Rise, we mostly focused on well-meaning humans, whereas Dawn provided a mix of good and bad – and even the “bad” people maintained some form of sympathy.

War alters this equation. For one, it focuses almost exclusively on the apes, which creates a major shift in perspective.

Again, Rise essentially came from the human POV, while Dawn went with a balance. On the other hand, War barely touches on humans, as it places us with Caesar and company the vast majority of the time.

This gives us an ambitious theme – and not just because it forces the movie to rely so heavily on visual effects. From Rise on down, the series has excelled at its CG depiction of the simians, and War remains up to the task technically. The computer-created apes seem wholly convincing and never cause us to lose our investment in the roles.

Nonetheless, it can be a stretch to spend so much time with non-human characters, even if our sympathy lies with them. I minded this more during my first screening, though, and again, I feel a lot of that related to my expectations, as I didn’t think I’d get such an apes-heavy movie.

Seen now, I think the choice works well, especially because it adds layers to Caesar. He’s been the one strong constant across the three movies, and War allows him to broaden his personality.

After the deaths in his family, he goes down a darker path, and that gives him a less predictable edge. We’ve always seen Caesar as the humane ape, but with the pain the Colonel brought to him, we can’t read him as well.

Other apes get good play as well – especially Maurice (Karin Konoval), the orangutan who acts as Caesar’s conscience. Throw in new chimp “Bad Ape” (Steve Zahn) for a little pathos and comic relief and the movie plays its hairy roles nicely.

Should War have fleshed out the Colonel better? Maybe, though I get its choice to keep him fairly hidden for much of the film, especially in relation to an obvious influence: 1979’s Apocalypse Now.

It doesn’t take a film scholar to see the connections between War’s Colonel and Now’s Colonel Kurtz – and not just because they sport totally bald pates. Both have gone firmly off the reservation and mass their own private clans in the midst of war, and both movies concentrate on the journey a group takes to find – and potentially kill – these military leaders.

While the Colonel is undoubtedly the least likable lead human in the three Apes movies, War doesn’t leave him as totally unsympathetic. Ala Dawn’s Dreyfus – that film’s main “vengeful human” – we get a backstory for the Colonel that explains why he desires to kill all the apes. This becomes personal enough to add a little humanity to the part.

But just a little, as the Colonel clearly offers the cruelest human we’ve yet encountered, a factor that contributes to one narrative theme: the shift in “humanity”. As the Apes movies progress, the simians turn more emotional and humane while the humans become meaner and more primitive.

That’s an interesting thread, partly because it points us toward the events of the original Planet of the Apes. We also get mute humans and a few other elements that foreshadow that tale. Whether the filmmakers intend this to eventually lead to a remake of the source story or if they plopped these nuggets in the film just for fun remains to be seen, but I still like the references.

One other major influence plays out here: 1956’s Ten Commandments, a story in which the head of a persecuted clan attempts to lead his people to a “Promised Land”.

As with Now, War doesn’t overwhelm us with its allusions to Commandments. Nonetheless, they seem clear and difficult to ignore.

Even with these obvious references, War manages to build a pretty compelling story, and I can now recognize it sports more action than I originally thought. It still seems a little more restrained than I’d expect from a movie with “war” in the title, but it throws out a few compelling set pieces, with a real barnburner once we get to the climax.

All of this adds up to a pretty solid Apes movie. I appreciate that each of the three films differs from the others, and I think War continues to narrative well. It disappointed me at first glance but I now see it as a strong effort.

Footnote: is it just me, or is it odd that both of 2017’s big ape-based movies showed the influence of Apocalypse Now? That was also evident in Kong: Skull Island.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A-/ Bonus B

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.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.75 Stars Number of Votes: 12
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