War for the Planet of the Apes

2hrs 23mins | Rated M

Starring: Woody Harrelson, Judy Greer, Andy Serkis

“War for the Planet of the Apes” may have the body of an action film, but it has the soul of an art-house drama and the brains of a political thriller.
The title of the newest installment in the durable franchise, “War for the Planet of the Apes,” is something of a misnomer. Although set 15 years after the science experiment that gave rise to smart, talking apes — and at the height of hostilities between these intellectually advanced animals and the more brutish of the people who would subjugate them — “War” includes fewer scenes of pitched battle than moments of quiet contemplation and conversation.
The new film, begins with the apes ensconced in their fortified encampment in the deep woods of Northern California. Although the apes just want to be left alone, and there is a contingent of humans who are inclined to leave them in peace, there is an incursion by renegade human commandos — led by a bloodthirsty officer known only as the Colonel (Woody Harrelson) — who kill some of the family members of the apes’ broodingly charismatic leader Caesar, a chimpanzee played by the great Andy Serkis, whose expressive, guttural vocal performance and mimelike physicality anchors the film.
This, of course, triggers a vendetta between Caesar and the Colonel, whose troops subsequently round up and imprison many of the apes, for slave labor, just as they are moving camp to avoid further attacks. Among those captured: Caesar and his only surviving son, the infant Cornelius (Devyn Dalton).
With Caesar out of the action, though not out of commission — despite being tied, seething, to a wooden structure that lends him the silhouette of a crucified, simian Jesus — the story shifts to the small band of apes still at large, plus a couple of newcomers.
Washington Post