Sound & Vision - - ENTERTAINMENT - Thomas J. Nor­ton

War for the Planet of the Apes con­cludes a tril­ogy that be­gan with Rise of the Planet of the Apes in 2011. It tells the story of Cae­sar, from a nascent, in­tel­li­gent ape to the leader of a band of smart simi­ans. Hu­mankind here has been nearly wiped out, with the sur­vivors fight­ing to re­tain their free­dom and hu­man­ity. In a twist from the clas­sic 1968 orig­i­nal, how­ever, the hu­mans here are the vil­lains, and the apes, flee­ing the rem­nants of an army led by an ob­sessed, Ahab-like colonel, are the he­roes. We’re driven to root for the Apes, from the story’s be­gin­ning to its near-bib­li­cal con­clu­sion.

I’m not to­tally on board with the de­vi­a­tions here from the 1968 orig­i­nal, nor with some of the sym­bol­ism used. And there isn’t a sin­gle sym­pa­thetic adult hu­man; the mid­dle film, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, was far more bal­anced in that re­gard. But there’s no deny­ing that this is a pow­er­ful, beau­ti­fully made movie and one of the best of the year.

The UHD-HDR im­ages, as viewed on a pixel-shift­ing 4K LCOS pro­jec­tor, are stun­ning, many of them shot in the jaw-drop­ping win­ter land­scapes of the Pa­cific North­west. And the mo­tion-cap­ture, an­i­mated apes are as con­vinc­ingly real as they are in the first two films, with a spe­cial nod to a su­perb Andy Sirkis as Cae­sar.

The pic­ture is crisp through­out. Dark scenes (which are dom­i­nant) are ap­pro­pri­ately dim but al­ways clear. And bright high­lights, though in­fre­quent, stand out where needed. The only bright colors come from ex­plo­sions and ri­fle flares in the in­evitable bat­tle scenes; UHD’s wide color pal­ette isn’t a star player here. But that’s the na­ture of the film, and this is a ref­er­ence-qual­ity UHD Blu-ray by any stan­dard.

The UHD disc’s au­dio is Dolby At­mos, but I au­di­tioned it in 5.1. It’s ex­plo­sive and dy­namic where re­quired and sub­tle when not. Michael Gi­acchino’s scores have of­ten struck me in the past as work­man­like and noth­ing mem­o­rable, but this one is a real ex­cep­tion—per­haps his best and su­perbly recorded as well. As he points out in the pack­age’s ex­tras, he was in­spired by the work of Jerry Gold­smith in the 1968 orig­i­nal. It shows.

The ex­ten­sive ex­tras are some of the best I’ve seen re­cently. They in­clude ten deleted scenes, ex­tended mak­ing-of fea­turettes, a con­cept art gallery, and an au­dio com­men­tary from di­rec­tor Matt Reeves (on both the UHD and HD discs—as is typ­i­cal, the other ex­tras are only on the HD ver­sion).


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