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After the Rise and the Dawn comes the War For The Planet Of The Apes, the third and last part of the Caesar prequel trilogy in which Andy Serkis' motion-captured ape leads his intelligent kind to battle against the humans once and for all.

Or, at least, that's what the trailers would have you believe. Based on those, you'd think the entire film was all-out war with Woody Harrelson's intimidating baddie facing off against Caesar in one last epic stand. The film is not that at all, it's actually much more subtle than that but "subtle" doesn't exactly make for exciting, bombastic trailers. The war in question is a rogue group of soldiers, led by The Colonel (Harrelson), who are trying to eliminate and/or enslave all the apes living in the forest. The apes defend themselves, of course, but it's not really a war for them, it's survival as they plan to leave the forest for a more peaceful setting. Unfortunately, The Colonel murders Caesar's wife and son so the ape leader sets out with some help to get revenge. There are some action scenes here and there, mostly near the very end, but this is a quiet retribution story with all the moral dilemmas that this entails leading to a Great Escape-style scenario and a Civil War of sorts. War is a much more emotional journey than Dawn so don't expect that level of constant spectacle.

Matt Reeves once again digs deep into his characters' hearts and minds, ape or otherwise, and delivers another serious, intense and beautiful-looking film. Caesar's character arc is an interesting one as revenge blinds him to the point where he is compared to and haunted by Koba, Dawn's arch-nemesis. There are many references to the original Planet Of The Apes movie throughout: a little girl called Nova, a doll, Cornelius, a virus that stops humans' speech. While cute, those nods don't really add up with the 1968 classic so unless the studios are planning to remake that one again, perhaps keeping those references to a strict minimum would have been wise. Besides, remaking the original again would require a completely different ending since the famous twist is irrelevant at this point. War is a much smarter and more dramatic film than you'd expect so, even though it could have done with a lot more action, it's slow at times and Harrelson's not in it very much, it's hard to deny how well made and how compelling it is overall.

A worthy end to a trilogy that started on shaky ground but grew quickly to become well worth a watch. Serkis delivers his best performance yet and Matt Reeves proves himself, once again, more than capable to make potentially silly content look and feel legitimately good.

Solid sequel.

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