Ralph Potts reviews the third and climactic chapter of the critically acclaimed blockbuster trilogy, director Matt Reeves and an all-star cast unleash the rapidly evolving simians into a world boiling over with divisions and rage as the ape vs. human battle for control of the world careens towards the ultimate winner-takes-all decision.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:
Extras:
Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

90
Details:

Studio and Year: 20th Century Fox - 2017
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 140 minutes
Genre: Sci-Fi/Action/Thriller

Disc Format: BD-66
Encoding: HEVC @
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos/Dolby TrueHD 7.1, English DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French DTS 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Starring: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Tobey Kobbell, Judy Greer
Directed by: Matt Reeves
Music by: Michael Giacchino
Written by: Mark Bomback & Matt Reeves
Region Code: A

Release Date: October 24, 2017
"For Freedom. For Family. For the Planet"

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My Take:

Fifteen years ago, a scientific experiment gone wrong gave rise to a species of intelligent apes, and a virus that nearly destroyed the human race. The Simian Flu, as it came to be known, brought humanity to the brink of extinction. The survivors, the few who were immune to the virus, came to envy the dead … while the apes continued to thrive in the safety of the woods north of San Francisco.

With the inception of their burgeoning civilization, the apes flourished in the absence of human contact, until they were discovered by a small band of the survivors hoping to establish a new colony. The colonists and apes struggled to coexist, but it was not be. Their fragile peace was shattered by Koba, an ape who could not resist taking revenge on his former captors. Caesar, leader of the apes, attempted to restore order, but the die had been cast.

The embattled colonists sent out frantic distress calls for help, unsure if anyone was even out there to hear them. The signal was received 800 miles north at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, where hundreds of soldiers had taken refuge after the viral apocalypse. These men and women were all that remained of the US Armed Services. Responding to the call, a hardened fighting division, led by a decorated Colonel of the Special Forces, was sent down to join the battle. Caesar and the apes retreated to the woods, but the human forces pursued, determined to destroy the apes once and fall. For two years, the soldiers have been searching in vain for Caesar, who is rumored to be commanding his apes from a base, hidden deep in the woods.

I really enjoyed Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and its follow-up, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. I didn’t get the chance to see War for the Planet of the Apes during its theatrical run, and looked forward to sitting down with it in my familiar surroundings. Like its predecessor, it is a successful follow-up, with a continuity that invigorates the character driven elements of the plot, serving to make for a more engaging film experience. This sequel brings with it a level of drama that underscores its primary story, while the action positively supports the film’s narrative. I really like how we get a deeper look into Caesar’s struggle to remain focused on what is best for the apes, while trying to set aside his personal need for revenge. Inevitably he must choose, with the outcome serving to define all that he has stood for.

There were some tie ins to future events and characters in the Planet of the Apes mythos, which were kind of interesting. There was one or two too many ancillary characters, but overall, I found the narrative’s flow and balance to be excellent. Once again, the cast was well chosen, and director Matt Reeves’ proper handling of the source material, and actors, served to compliment the film. I really enjoyed how these films have re-imagined the beloved franchise, and I felt this final installment concluded it extremely well.

Replay Value:
Parental Guide:

The rating is for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, thematic elements, and some disturbing images.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

UHD Presentation: 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 
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Dolby Atmos Rating: 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 
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Ultra HD Blu-ray has finally been released and eager enthusiasts are ready and willing to see what it has to offer. For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

War for the Planet of the Apes comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 51 Mbps and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound that has an average bitrate of 5 Mbps.

For its presentation in Ultra War for the Planet of the Apes was derived from a 6.5K source, rendered from a 2K DI, and up-converted to 4K. As with the other films in the series, War for the Planet of the Apes was shot with a specific visual aesthetic in mind and that comes through in this Ultra HD rendering. The film has a teal splashed aesthetic, making use of dark greens, black, and gray. This is primarily a dark film, and its low-level sequences had excellent depth and dimension.

The use of HDR was on the reserved side for the most part. On occasion there was visually compelling use of interstitial black levels offset by vivid bright elements, such as the scene where the Colonel and his raiders sneak into the ape lair. The scene where Caesar’s guards surprise the soldiers in the caves labyrinth, followed shortly after by the exterior shot of the moonlit waterfall looked terrific. The use of shadows mixed with light looked very natural. The large set piece in chapter 23 at the base features explosions and firelight that benefitted from the HDR application, appeared vibrant and visually engaging.

Resolution gets a boost although the differences between the UHD and 1080p renderings aren’t quite night and day. Close-ups tend to look amazing, with resolvable texture visible in the various interior sets, and physical features being quite obvious. The exterior shot by the river in chapter six looked good enough to reach out and touch. I believe that what we are seeing is a faithful rendering of the film’s elements, which when all is said and done, is all we can ask for. The question now becomes, is the Ultra HD version worth considering over the Blu-ray? I would say that if you’re a fan, and truly want to own War for the Planet of the Apes in its finest form, the answer is, absolutely.

War for the Planet of the Apes has a very solid 7.1 channel surround mix on Blu-ray, so I wondered if the immersive experience would truly improve upon it. In listening to the Dolby Atmos surround mix I found it to be of the moderately active variety that made steady use of the platform. Its use of audio objects placed above is a mix atmospherics, directional fills, and discrete effects. This is done very well, adding a tangible level of immersion that supports the onscreen elements.

During the assault on the base in chapter 23 audio object placement, from both above, and in the ear level listening plane are put to effective use, as launched missiles fly overhead and exploding objects shower debris throughout the listening area. I also found that the various sounds and atmospherics featured throughout the film feel more realistic in terms of their acoustics and size. The music score is mixed throughout the soundfield adding a notable boost in presence.

Blu-ray Video:

Video: 96
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 
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Audio: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 
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War for the Planet of the Apes comes to Blu-ray Disc from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 29 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 7.1 Master audio sound that has an average bitrate of 4.9.

This film has an intentionally stylized visual design that utilizes a monochromatic color scheme that works aesthetically well for the film’s theme and setting. The color range is limited to shades of green and black with splashes of crimson and muted sepia tones. Warm primary accents are used to break up the film’s monochromatic essence. Fleshtones hold up fairly well against the de-saturated chroma and don’t appear unnatural. Uneven light and shading are prevalent. Contrast is spot on which empowers whites and grays without washing away detail. Whites are punchy and grays are multi-staged and deep. I find the quality of the video to be high. It’s cleanly rendered with plenty of subtle refinement and delineation that enhances depth and reveals fine detail in objects, backgrounds, and physical features.

Blacks are gradationally revealing which enhances the excellent rendering of detail in low light and shadowy backgrounds to provide a strong sense of dimension. All in all this is an excellent high definition rendering that compliments the source.

The 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio surround mix does a great job presenting the track’s recorded elements. This soundtrack runs the gamut between subtle passages of spoken dialog and music to engaging sequences that deliver enriching surround sound. Dialog rendering is terrific as it holds sway over the front soundstage. Dynamic range is excellent as the active elements within the surround mix resound with superior clarity and palpable deep bass transients. The music score is integrated into the sound design and is detailed, and dimensional. Detail is first rate which brings out the host of background elements within the mix. I had a great time with this soundtrack and appreciated the attention to detail that went into its design.

Bonus Features:
  • Disc 1: War for the Planet of the Apes Ultra HD Blu-ray
    Disc 1: War for the Planet of the Apes Ultra HD Blu-ray
    • Deleted Scenes with Optional Audio Commentary by Matt Reeves
    o Graveyard
    o Turncoats
    o Barrier Wall
    o “I Owe You One”
    o “A Great Man”
    o “Do Not Lose Hope”
    o Snowfall
    o The Colonel’s Speech
    o Malcolm and the Dinosaurs
    o “I Am Like Koba”
    • Featurettes:
    o “Waging War for the Planet of the Apes” – In-depth documentary on the making of WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES
    o “All About Caesar”
    o “WETA: Pushing Boundaries”
    o “Music for Apes”
    o “Apes: The Meaning of it All”
    o “The Apes Saga: An Homage”
    • Concept Art Gallery
    • Audio Commentary by Matt Reeves
  • Digital HD Copy
Final Thoughts:

As with its predecessor War for the Planet of the Apes is an invigorating and worthy installment that brings the trilogy to an end with class. It features an engaging story, excellent direction/performances, and slick production elements that are perfect for scratching that intelligently crafted, well enacted, sci-fi/drama itch felt by genre fans. It comes to Blu-ray in this Ultra HD Combo Pack from 20th Century Home Entertainment that features rewarding Ultra High Definition video, excellent high definition audio/video quality including a complimentary Dolby Atmos immersive sound mix (Ultra HD only), and a worthwhile assortment of bonus material, that looks behind the scenes at the making of the film. As a fan, I am pleased to own it in Ultra HD.
 

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews


Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from  Spectracal )
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV8802A 13.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
SVS PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
SVS SB-13 Ultra (Piano Gloss finish)
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems