This Matt Reeves-directed piece in particular draws some notable parallels to concentration camps and slavery and is all the more pensive because of it, grounding the series in a pragmatic way that ensures it is stark, emotive and sincere in its action and execution. While these themes are not always handled in the most subtle manner, it enhances the picture in a profound and touching way. Reeves further capitalises on the uncomfortable atmosphere with some smart camera work: in the first half in particular, a masterclass in tension, items are off-centre in the frame, creating a darting movement with the audiences eyes to really emphasis that uncomfortable nature of war. It's really terrific stuff. In fact, the entire first act is top-class film-making of the highest pedigree, laying the foundations for an incredibly taut and tense 140 minute film - all topped off stunningly with a breathless finale as powerful as it is meaningful. Honestly, the opening and closing stretches of this film are near faultless.
What disappoints most with War For The Planet of the Apes is how much it drops the ball with its middle act. After an astounding opening third, the second act resorts to lazy script writing and developments that interrupt the momentum and flow: one plot advancement is so frustrating that you cannot help but shout furiously at the screen, angry that the writers decided to proceed with such a simple and convenient decision that threatens to undermine an otherwise intelligent and sharp film. Ultimately, that middle patch is lazy - a word that should never be associated with this franchise - but thankfully, you can just about let it slide and the film collects itself in time for the solid climax. It is disappointing that it slacks in middle narratively, but it remains potent thematically and atmospheric enough tonally to power the film through to its extraordinary, almost cathartic finale.
War's 3D conversion may not be completely necessary but it is well-rendered and one of the better examples of 2017. While convinced it will remain as engaging and visually impressive in standard format, the 3D works in emphasising the visuals and attention to detail, which is never a bad thing.
War For The Planet of the Apes is a tremendously powerful, bleak but beautiful blockbuster providing a suitable break from the lighter, fluffier entertainment of the cinematic season. In my eyes, it surpasses the solid 'Rise' and impressive 'Dawn', rounding out the trilogy on top form. This entry has solidified the Planet of the Apes series as one of the shining examples of rebooting done correctly, crafting a genuinely thoughtful and formidable collection of films that will be reflected on in years to come with fondness, acknowledging its power in the marketplace and ability to bring both brains, brawn and heart to the table.
Summary: War For The Planet of the Apes is the perfect summer anti-dote: as bleak and dark as it is smart and stirring, the final instalment in the successful reboot trilogy is a franchise high-point, crafting an emotional, powerful and cathartic blockbuster experience.