Six years ago when 20th Century Fox released the first episode in the two-time-reboot of "The Planet of the Apes" franchise, many of us wondered aloud what kind of nut jobs were in charge of the studio to redo a dead franchise...again!


But director Rypert Wyatt and his writers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver drafted and crafted a marvelous origins story in "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" that was expounded upon by Matt Reeves in "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" in 2014. We know that humans developed drug to improve human brains that instead overdeveloped chimp brains instead.


Things went really bad when a pandemic outbreak of a a disease that thoroughly wiped out a great portion of the humans so that apes now outnumbered humans. But their abilities were varied with the chimps being the smartest. Caesar (Andy Serkis) was the overall leader but was challenged frequently by the more aggressive Koba (Toby Kebbell). The line was drawn and it was now the apes against the humans for dominance but would it be peaceful or war.

This last segment of the origin story by Matt Reeves completes the lead in to the original 1968 and 2001 remake of "Planet of the Apes". It is war; humans and apes can not co-exist on the same planet...one has to go.


Reeves and his writers crafted a very interesting thriller that works as a sociological editorial. Representing the ideally more peaceful, higher thinking apes is Caesar - determined to exist without war. His character is much like Chief Joseph of the Nez Pierce indians in 1877. They tried desperately to get to the Canadian border to avoid war with the encroaching humans. Instead they were forced into a retreating battle which they ultimately lost and surrendered less than 40-miles from the Canadian border and were not allowed to leave.


The humans are led by the Colonel (Woody Harrelson) who hates the apes but sees a need to enslave them and use them to fortify his last stand (as it were). He is, completely unafraid of the apes but instead concerned about another larger army of humans to the north (presumably Canada) who intend to wipe his army out.

As is typical in war, there are traitors and turncoats and The Colonel utilizes several gorilla's who are tagged donkey's (just as white slave owners tagged traitor black slaves as monkey's in the United States). One of the traitor gorilla's reveals where Caesar's band of apes are encamped and they are all either killed or captured - including Caesar's son.


Caesar now is starting to think much like Koba did and feels the need to kill The Colonel. En route to find the Colonel, he and his posse - Maurice (Karin Konoval) and Rocket (Terry Notary) - come across a young human girl named Nova (Amiah Miller) and her father. Nova cannot speak as she is afflicted with a disease that is decimating The Colonel's army. The disease makes the humans mute and not too bright.


The special effects are perfect as is the costuming - just like the first two films in the reboot, which were both nominated for visual effects Oscars. However, the storytelling in "War for the Planet of the Apes" is superb with the subtle historical references and a pointed editorial.


Serkis, once again excels as Caesar, a character torn between turning the other cheek and violent war. We see his transformation at the hands of The Colonel with Harrelson delivering his character as a hybrid Mickey Knox ("Natural Born Killers") and Tony Stone (The Messenger"). Miller is quietly poignant as the future of humanity.


This film deserves a good serious look as a study of the transference of civility that has occurred before and is in the human DNA.


"War For The Planet Of The Apes" fantastically transfers the Earth from humans to apes as a sociological sci-fi thriller. The costuming is terrific, the writing his superb and, as he generally does, Woody Harrelson makes this good film even better.   -- GEOFF BURTON