By Ian Crow

Undoubtedly, one of the most anticipated sequels in the past few years. Caesar and his army of apes return for the third installment in the Planet of the Apes series. Following on from the events of Dawn, we pick up quickly with Caesar and company as they plan their future without the interruption of the human race. No matter where they go, they are always greeted by human presence and it’s never a pretty sight. The rivalry and misunderstanding between humans and apes has risen to an all-time high as war is imminent. After suffering fatal tragedies within Caesars group, he struggles to contain the anger that burns inside him. Normally calm and collective, he not only struggles with having to deal with losses within his family, but he is still haunted by the spirit of Koba.

The main threat this time round for the apes is the legendary Woody Harrelson. The Colonel is a leader of a small army that is in control of the vicinity that the apes live in. Bigged up as a towering and threatening character, the expectations for the colonel end up falling short. To be honest I can see this as being good and bad. The path of Harrelson’s character goes down a completely different path that I had anticipated. Definitely not what I thought would happen, but I was expecting a standout performance from the Hunger Games star. In all honesty, it’s hard to perform at the top of your game when you have someone like Andy Serkis on the screen. A mocap icon, he continues to utilize the incredible technique of motion capture to deliver a deep and emotional performance in Caesar. Fans of the series will be extremely pleased with the continuation of his story and Serkis is the catalyst for this. Effectively seeing his character grow up right in front of our eyes across three films is a joy as this is almost the coming of age story for Caesar.

Director Matt Reeves continues the tone of the previous Apes movie seamlessly. Going from Dawn to War feels effortless, the three-year gap feels miniscule as you pick up with their story almost immediately. Reeves use of the camera and choice of locations bring the film to life. The effective use of close-ups throughout the film helps emphasize everyone’s emotions throughout War. You can tell throughout that this film is heavily influenced by the likes of Apocalypse Now and classic Westerns as the apes use horses to trounce through the snow amidst a gun battle. What I enjoyed most is the minimal use of new characters in the third installment. Three new characters are introduced including Woody Harrelson’s to the series but it’s the use of Steve Zahn’s character that provides an injection of freshness to the films and that’s a comedic element. In terms of the tone, all the films have been fairly dark with snippets of funny moments but Bad Ape, a new ape that is discovered by Caesar and his gang is hilarious and really helps break up what could have been an incredibly bleak movie.

Personally it’s almost impossible for me to distinguish what the better film is out of the whole series. It’s a question no doubt I’ll be asked but there’s one thing I’m sure on. This is by far one of the best trilogies out there. The consistent quality throughout all three films has been top-notch and equally, the performances; especially from Andy Serkis is one you’ll never forget. Maybe a tad too long in my eyes and I struggled to keep engaged during the middle of the film but apart from that, the film is absolutely flawless. The Dark Knight Trilogy is always one I can go to when I want to watch a great series but now I have another in the Planet of the Apes trilogy. 4.5 out of 5 stars.