Having been pleasantly surprised by the first two films in 20th Century Fox’s Planet Of The Apes reboot, I had high hopes indeed for this trilogy-ending third installment. Especially as it sees Matt Reeves, who directed the second film so expertly, returning to not only call the shots again but also this time play a key role in writing the script.
You are watching: War of the planet of the apes blu ray
In many ways, War For The Planet Of The Apes lives up to my hopes. Despite its title, it continues to be far more interested in Caesar’s personal journey than staging epic and violent battle scenes – and Caesar continues to be a hugely compelling lead character, especially as he’s here taken in a much darker direction than we’ve seen before.
Caesar is not a happy bunny in the latest Planet Of The Apes movie.
Photo: War For The Planet Of The Apes, 20th Century Fox
The special effects are even more incredible than those witnessed in Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, bringing new levels of detail and realism to the ape characters. And Andy Serkis’ ‘performance’ as Caesar binds the film together so well that some critics believe he might be in with a shout for the Best Actor Oscar.
There is, though, a problem. Namely that in trying to bring the trilogy to a suitably epic emotional conclusion, the script plays pretty fast and loose with logic and time in (sometimes key) places. The interactions between men and apes are much more one-dimensional than they have been before too, due to an insistence on only showing the action from Caesar’s perspective that additionally leaves the motivations of the human characters looking a little threadbare. Also, if you stop to look at it too closely, the plot is not only pretty contrived but also heavily ‘borrowed’ from other films.
Reeves openly admits this latter point on his excellent commentary track, pointing out that the idea was to try and give Caesar, an ape, the sort of almost mythic journey previously only undertaken by larger than life men in classic westerns and war movies. But however well-intentioned, the extent of the filmic references does sometimes become a distraction.
Finally, if the IMDB user reviews are anything to go by, the filmmakers’ decision to make War… the most ‘internalized’ Planet Of The Apes film right at the time when you might conventionally have expected it to open out into a more classic war movie narrative seems to have spectacularly alienated some fans of the previous two films.
For me, though, while it does try a bit too hard to show war from a very personal perspective, War For The Planet Of The Apes’ tone not only seems entirely appropriate, but also works potently enough to both disguise most of the film’s failings and end up giving us a much more compelling and powerful film than your average ‘summer blockbuster’.
Studio: 20th Century Fox
What you get: Region-free UHD Blu-ray, REGION A ONLY Blu-ray, code for Digital HD version
Extra Features: Commentary track by director Matt Reeves: deleted scenes with optional commentary; a 30-minute ‘making of’ documentary; featurettes on the meaning of The Planet Of The Apes movies through history, creating the score, Caesar’s character arc, and WETA’s special effects work; an homage to the original Planet Of The Apes; a concept art gallery; and theatrical trailers.
Key kit used for this test: Samsung UE65KS9800, Oppo 203 4K Blu-ray player, Panasonic UB900 4K Blu-ray player
The second film in the trilogy improved in 4K Blu-ray picture quality terms over the first one, and I’m pleased to say the third film continues the upward trajectory. In fact, it’s one of the best looking 4K Blu-rays to date.
Despite seemingly being ‘upmastered” into 4K from a 2K digital intermediate, the image looks consistently pristine. Detail levels are exceptionally high for a film that’s built so heavily around CGI, and there’s a gorgeous and consistent crispness to everything that never leaves you in a moment’s doubt that you’re watching a 4K rather than HD Blu-ray.
There’s scarcely a hint of grain or noise standing between you and the action either; it’s a lovely, pure image that really helps you feel more directly connected with the characters. Except for when the picture quality gets SO good that you start to just ogle the effects and the quality of the transfer rather than being absorbed in the action!
War For The Planet Of The Apes doesn’t just deliver the sharpest, cleanest pictures of the 4K BD trilogy, though. It also delivers the most dramatic and effective use of high dynamic range. In fact, again it’s one of the best HDR masters I’ve seen on any 4K Blu-ray.
Bright highlights are beautifully extended without ever looking forced or distracting. Daylight exteriors look more natural and, at times (such as when the lead apes ride across a sun-drenched beach) just drop-dead gorgeous.
Black levels are consistently deep – there’s no sign here of the raised blacks that occasionally crop up on the 4K Blu-rays of the previous two Planet Of The Apes films. The push for deep blacks never looks forced, though; there’s no obvious crushing out of shadow detail, and not so much as a hint of compression noise.
The range between the deepest blacks and brightest whites feels beautifully natural too, even during the most high-contrast of shots. The result is that the HDR always feels like it’s been used to add drama and insight to the picture, rather than just being cranked up to 11 to deliver HDR for HDR’s sake.
Just as importantly, the potency of the HDR is never put ahead of the 4K disc’s other great strength: its expanded color gamut. The expanded brightness range always feels like it’s there to serve and enhance the film’s beautifully rich color palette, rather than colors struggling to hold on to their tonal richness and balance as they try to keep up with any over-stretched luminance.
Nothing feels washed out, no skin tones look jaundiced or peaky, no hues look over-dominant – basically, nothing ever looks wrong or out of place. Despite the film taking place in a more diverse variety of settings than most.
This HDR and color consistency joins with the many other picture strengths I’ve already mentioned in delivering exactly the sort of immersion the film depends on if you’re going to buy into its intensely personal story.
Really the only complaint I can level at the picture quality of The Planet Of The Apes is that it doesn’t benefit from Dolby Vision (or the new HDR10+ ‘dynamic metadata format), despite the film being released in Dolby Vision for the cinema.
War For The Planet Of The Apes sumptuous visuals are joined by a perfectly judged and expertly delivered Dolby Atmos soundtrack.
In keeping with the sombre, character-driven tone of the film, the mix’s heart doesn’t lie in constantly bombarding you with huge dynamics and masses of action-scene detail and attack (though there are certainly a few bombastic moments thrown in for good measure). Rather its beauty lies in the way it uses Michael Giacchino’s score and some imaginative audio ‘drop out’ choices at key action moments to make sure we never fall out of touch with Caesar’s internal struggle and story.
This is, after all, what War For The Planet Of The Apes is really about, rather than just being another cutting edge demo track of how loud and violent war can be.
Part of this quest to tell such an epic story through a single character’s experience does mean that as well as limiting ultra-dynamic soundtrack moments, the mix isn’t keen to draw undue attention to itself with lots of aggressively steered and emphasized spatial effects. If you want a demonstration of just how effective Atmos can be at cocooning you in an irresistible bubble of pure atmosphere, though, the War… mix is up there with the best of them.
The only extra feature found on the 4K Blu-ray is a commentary track by Matt Reeves. And a great track it is too, as the director delivers a fascinating blend of filming anecdotes and invaluable background on the film’s themes and challenges.
The other extras on the accompanying REGION A ONLY Blu-ray kick off with around 25 minutes of deleted scenes. While a couple (the Colonel’s speech and a quite discussion the Colonel has with Caesar) add genuinely interesting extra information to the story, for the most part they’re worth watching for their glimpse into the fascinating process of making the film, as almost all of them appear with completely unfinished special effects. Helpfully each one is available with optional commentary by Matt Reeves.
The rest of the extras comprise a series of ‘making of’ featurettes, and a concept art gallery. The featurettes are all fine so far as they go, and certainly don’t skimp on behind the scenes footage. If you’ve watched any of the extras on the previous two Apes 4K Blu-ray releases, though, there’s little here that you haven’t seen before in one form or another. Except, perhaps, for the 10-minute focus on WETA’s remarkable special effects work, and a feature charting the meaning and evolution of all of the Planet Of the Apes films through movie history.
War For The Planet Of The Apes is one of the strongest 4K Blu-ray releases to date. It emerges as a powerful and engrossing film despite a few missteps along the way, and its picture quality is consistently and often jaw-droppingly gorgeous, providing an unexpectedly stunning showcase for what might well be the finest special effects work the film world has ever seen.
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I”ve spent the past 25 years writing about the world of home entertainment technology–first at Home Cinema Choice magazine, where I became Deputy Editor, and for the past 20 years on a freelance basis. In that time I”m fairly confident that I”ve reviewed more TVs and projectors than any other individual on the planet, as well as experiencing first-hand the rise and fall of all manner of great and not so great home entertainment technologies. I am currently a regular contributor to Trustedreviews.com, Techradar.com, Home Cinema Choice magazine, Wired, Pocket-Lint.com and, of course, jonathanlewisforcongress.com.