War for the Planet of the Apes Blu-Ray Review: Must. Own. Movie!

Matt Reeves has firmly established himself as someone who keenly knows how to wrap up a trilogy with his work on War for the Planet of the Apes. The closing chapter in the Apes prequels triumphs on so many levels. It is a Best Picture nomination worthy film, and that’s simply the first honoring that should be heaped on this bevy of brilliance which is out now on digital download, DVD and Blu-Ray.

Caesar (Andy Serkis) has been on quite a journey and the way that it has been chronicled through Rise of the Planet of the Apes and then in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes has all led to a dramatically compelling, deeply riveting and emotionally moving motion picture that could serve as the bar for how all other film trilogies are originated, carried through and wrapped up.

There is a war raging between simians and humans that was not of the apes’ choosing. Yet, they find themselves battling a species that is ruled by a toxic cocktail of anger, vengeance and misinformation. How that plays out is the crux of War for the Planet of the Apes (couldn’t have chosen a better title!). It is an emotional roller coaster that rides its way through breathtaking thrills, heart warming moments that will give you goose bumps and yes even humor — thanks largely to the stunning casting of Steve Zahn as “Bad Ape.”

Reeves has an outstanding command of the material that elevates the film beyond an action packed third chapter trilogy closing that lies firmly within a storied franchise that goes back decades. That is by far the most extraordinary aspect of all three of these particular Apes films is they have no business being as chillingly moving as they are. By the end of the credits on War for the Planet of the Apes, one could be easily moved to say “thank you” out loud to all those involved for giving us something that is so fleeting in life… the rare celluloid experience that reminds us what is so special about being human, all through the actions of an entirely different species!

War for the Planet of the Apes deserves Oscar love, both for Best Picture, Best Director and most importantly, Best Actor for Serkis. What he has done has pushed the envelope for motion capture performance to a level that honestly, if he is not nominated for this performance itself, Serkis should be awarded a special Oscar simply for the effect that his Apes work has done to advance the craft.

Someone wiser than I once said that a film is only as good as its villain. In this case, Woody Harrelson rises to the occasion and knocks his evil doer role out of the park. Yet, the actor does so in a manner that humanizes the character and gives us a deeper understanding for the choices The Colonel makes and how those choices have led him to this point where he sees no grey. It’s black and white and only one species can walk the earth in his mind. It is not big enough for both of us. He and Caesar have several scenes together that are among the most epically gripping we have witnessed all year on the big screen.

For a deeper appreciation for the film itself, don’t miss my theatrical War for the Planet of the Apes review.

When it comes to bonus content, the highlights are the making-of documentary featurettes as well as a don’t-miss it sequence that truly pulls the curtain back on the stunning work of motion capture performances turned in by all of the Apes.

Scene Comparisons looks at 10 scenes, specifically, and illustrates the talent of the movie makers as we see the actors on the set in their mo-cap suits giving their performance and then we get to witness the final result in real time right next to the set footage. It is a stunning featurette that spotlights why the emotional connection is so strong between the viewer and the apes. It is because of what these actors do, long before special effects teams bring their truly human performance to their simian characters. Witnessing it in these 10 different scene side-by-side comparisons is a priceless insight into the magic of the movies.

Waging War for the Planet of the Apes is a stunning, almost 30-minute, making-of piece that features entertaining and enlightening interviews with the cast and crew about the creation of a masterpiece, giving audiences extraordinary insight into the challenges, joys and meticulous attention to detail that went into making one of 2017’s best movies.

Sure, All About Caesar does explore the technical aspect of bringing the character to life. But what makes it truly pop is how it delves deeper into how Serkis and screenwriters crafted an ape that lives, breathes and exists in three-dimensions.

WETA: Pushing Boundaries is a terrific ten-minute look at the New Zealand-based effects house that landed on the cinematic map with their work on the Lord of the Rings movies and have only elevated their art over time since. What they achieved on War for the Planet of the Apes should certainly find their artists hearing their names called when those coveted technical Oscar nominations are announced in January.

We love it when composers and those responsible for the score get a spotlight in the bonus features of a home video release. Music for Apes delivers a look at one of the most in-demand and talented composers working in the genre today, Michael Giacchino (Jurassic World, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Inside Out and so much more). It is a rare moment indeed when someone so gifted allows such insight into their creative process.

Also have to give a lot of props to the people behind the Apes trilogy because when they were deciding to give a retrospective look back at the series as it concludes with this installment, they didn’t just go back to the three Apes films we just devoured. Apes: The Meaning of It All is a 20-minute gift to Planet of the Apes fans everywhere as it journeys to the 1968 feature and as such, gives us such a feel of the vast breadth of the entire series that is in a word… Breathtaking.

That is fitting, given that this entire trilogy — especially War for the Planet of the Apes — is that too… Breathtaking.

Film Grade: A+
Bonus Features: A