First of all, for the record, I love Woody Harrelson and could watch an entire feature film of him eating a salad. I’m not sure why it would take him an hour and a half to eat a salad but there you go. The movie Woody Salad I’m certain would have more unpredictable twists and turns than War for the Planet of the Apes. Big explosion at the end? Check. Not to pick on it, the last three films we have seen, Baby Driver, Spiderman and Wonder Woman also end with big explosions. I think the screenwriters start all the movies with a massive explosion and reverse engineer a script from there.
This particular film could have undergone at least an hour of cutting. It has the scale, the sets, the score of Doctor Zhivago but without the story to prop it up for over 2 hours.
Personally, I did enjoy the film from a purely technical point of view. The apes themselves are a marvel. Not necessarily better than the original apes from Planet of the Apes in 1968, which garnered an honorary Academy Award for make-up artist John Chambers. Back then you could still tell who the actors were. You could see it was Roddy McDowall down there and that made it even better. These days, it is more of a photorealistic effect, if you will. But it still works for me, it’s just different.
And then of course there is the aforementioned Woody, doing this wacky mix of an evil Michael Stipe meets Apocalypse Brando — and it works. His scenes form the apex of this film for me. If you are into this series, War for the Planet of the Apes is a must see but ultimately for the rest of us, popping in or streaming the original Planet of the Apes with McDowell, Heston and the Statue of Liberty would most likely be a more worthwhile experience.