I rarely write movie reviews anymore, but sometimes I see a movie that compels me to sit down and put my feelings into words. In the case of War for the Planet of the Apes, I was so thoroughly disappointed, so shocked by the complete failure to meet my expectations, that I ended up writing over 1500 words on the subject. Here’s an excerpt:
Like many other viewers, I was pleasantly surprised when Rise of the Planet of the Apes turned out to be a well-crafted science fiction film that explored some legitimate questions about non-human sentience and the ethics of using animals for medical research. I wasn’t surprised with Andy Serkis’s amazing performance, because we already had ample evidence that whether live action or mocap, he’s a fantastic actor. It was the promise of another great Andy Serkis performance that initially drew me to the sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and I was again surprised that it was not just on par with Rise, but one of the best films I saw in 2014.
After Dawn, I was on board for the next chapter, especially with the same team behind the wheel. From the trailers, it seemed like War for the Planet of the Apes would deliver on the set-up at the end of Dawn, where the promise of peaceful coexistence has been broken and there will now be a conflict from which only one society – humans or apes – will emerge intact. Reviews buoyed my anticipation, with a 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes as of the publishing of this post. When I finally got around to seeing the film, its complete failure to deliver against these expectations makes it the most disappointing film I’ve seen this year. So much so that I felt the need to write about it.