War for the Planet of the Apes (2017) - SPOILER-FREE Review

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Directed by: Matt Reeves

Starring: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Amiah Miller, Karin Konoval, Terry Notary

Runtime: 140 min

Caesar (Andy Serkis) is protecting his apes from the human army for two years now, but the Colonel (Woody Harrelson) wants his race to survive at all costs ... After several casualties on the ape's side, Caesar goes on his own revenge quest to save his kind.

An epic battle between both armies goes down to decide the fate of the planet and who becomes the dominant species.

The third chapter of the Planet of the Apes franchise is finally here! Rise and Dawn are great films, but War needs to end this trilogy perfectly, which is a very rare achievement in the history of cinema (i.e. the third movie of a trilogy to be the best) ... Well, War for the Planet of the Apes does what Return of the King did 14 years ago and it is the best film in this memorable reboot and one of the best (probably THE best) of the year!

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I can't find a single flaw in this movie. I really thought about every detail and there's only ONE thing that I can see others maybe faulting the film for it, which is some of the second act's pacing. Some new characters are introduced along the way and there is a period of time that some people mind find slow or boring ... For me, that's character development in its glory and it's also a massive build-up to a fulfilling climax in the third act.

Don't be fooled by the title nor the trailers, you have to manage your expectations: this is not a war film. This is not an epic battle between humans and apes, which is something that I love about this movie: I didn't watch a single trailer, so I went totally blind into the theater. I assumed that I was going to watch an epic fight just by the beginning of the film, but it plays out in such an unconventional and emotional way that I found myself floored. It's jaw-dropping.

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Andy Serkis, man ... I don't even know what to say. The team that adds the visual effects to the apes are unbelievably talented ... There are so many close-ups of apes' faces and it's impossible for someone to say "they're fake" because they're not! They are so perfect that's impossible for me to look at them and not see a real ape. Andy Serkis deserves a freaking Oscar nomination as well as everyone in the motion capture team. It's unreal the amount of realism that they can pull off.

Caesar continues to be the most powerful and emotional character that I've met since God knows how many years ago. He has a roller-coaster journey in terms of his feelings and I could definitely feel it: in his eyes, in his face, in all of his expressions and movements. It's a character that just became unforgettable and fortunately, he has a beautiful story about him and his journey told in three amazing films.

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Maurice (Karin Konoval) is one of my favorite characters from the trilogy and he gets some well-deserved scenes where he absolutely shines. The new characters are superb: Nova is portrayed by the spectacular Amiah Miller and Steve Zahnplays Bad Ape. She adds an astounding amount of depth to the story without saying a single word and she's able to be so compelling and captivating that when the emotional scenes go down, she elevates them to a whole other level.

Bad Ape is where all could have gone wrong since he's the comic relief character in a very profound drama ... It works. Matt Reeves is able to guide this character perfectly, introducing him as a joke in just the right scenes and in just the right amount. One of the things that I faulted the other movies for was that the human characters didn't have that much interest and that I always wanted to be with Caesar. This time, the Colonel is someone that is given a very heartfelt story (even if it's through an exposition scene ... the ONLY one that I can count throughout the whole film), so when the third act begins I actually cared for Harrelson's character.

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Once again, the visuals are stunning, the film just looks amazing. However, the detail that makes this movie go from great to epic is, as always, its score. Michael Giacchino probably produced his best score to date and it elevated the film in such a powerful way. Most of the runtime, there's no dialogue (either there's sign language or pure silence), so the score had to be perfect in order for the scenes to be more complete ... and it is. I already added it to my Spotify playlist and I can't wait to listen to it over and over again. If some scenes are already emotional enough, this score turns them into something that I couldn't hold my tears from. More than once.

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The ending is so filled with emotion (I have no idea how many times have I written "emotion" or "emotional", but it's the perfect word to describe this film) that makes it the best ending to a trilogy that I've seen since The Return of the King (The Lord of the Rings). It's such a powerful and fulfilling moment ... Honestly, after some research, I have no problems saying that this is the best reboot EVER done to a franchise since Nolan's The Dark Knight.

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So ... I think it's pretty obvious ...

War for the Planet of the Apes gets my first A+ of 2017! Go watch it! Now! What are you waiting for?!

|  A+  : 9.3-10 |  A : 8.7-9.2 |  A-  : 8.0-8.6 |  B+  : 7.3-7.9 |  B : 6.7-7.2 |  B-  : 6.0-6.6 ||  C+  : 5.3-5.9 |  C : 4.7-5.2 |  C-  : 4.0-4.6 |  D+  : 3.3-3.9 |  D : 2.7-3.2 |  D-  : 2.0-2.6 |  F : 0-1.9 |

| A+ : 9.3-10 | A: 8.7-9.2 | A- : 8.0-8.6 | B+ : 7.3-7.9 | B: 6.7-7.2 | B- : 6.0-6.6 || C+ : 5.3-5.9 | C: 4.7-5.2 | C- : 4.0-4.6 | D+ : 3.3-3.9 | D: 2.7-3.2 | D- : 2.0-2.6 | F: 0-1.9 |