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War for the Planet of the Apes

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Poster Image
Smart, emotional, violent sequel has resonant ideas.
  • PG-13
  • 2017
  • 140 minutes
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 18 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 40 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Subtly tackles issues of slavery, prejudice, and war and traces these things back to, very simply, fear of the Other. It's up to viewers to interpret/analyze why things unknown are so scary and why feelings of fear often manifest themselves violently.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The main character, Caesar, must decide whether he wants to take revenge for a crime committed against him; he does, though he pays a price. While he is a clever, caring leader, he also frequently chooses violence as a solution for problems.


Fantasy violence is strong, though without much blood. Guns and shooting, arrows, missiles, explosions. Characters die/dead bodies seen. Apes are imprisoned, treated badly, hung on crosses, and forced to work. Beating, whipping. Mild bloody wounds. A character commits suicide off screen. Helicopter crash. Angry confrontations.


"Hell," and single uses of "goddamn," "Jesus Christ," and "my God."


Prominent Coca-Cola sign shown once. Chevy Nova logo.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that War for the Planet of the Apes, which is part of the long-running sci-fi/action movie series, is the third movie focusing on intelligent ape leader Caesar (Andy Serkis). It's heavy on fantasy violence, with guns and shooting, arrows, missiles, and explosions. Some bloody wounds are shown, though there's not much gore overall. Apes are imprisoned, hung on crosses, whipped, and forced to work. Characters die, and one character commits suicide off screen. Language is mild, with sparing use of "goddamn" and "Jesus Christ." The movie is very smart and subtly discusses issues of how fear can lead to problems like slavery and war. But Caesar isn't exactly a role model, since he chooses to seek revenge (though he does pay a price). Overall the movie is a great combination of exciting and thought provoking, worth enjoying as well as discussing.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byProfessor Kirk July 19, 2017

Thought provoking

I really enjoyed this film! The complicated situation you find yourself in identifying more with the apes than the humans is an excellent thought exercise. You... Continue reading
Parent of a 12 year old Written byAura July 20, 2017

Emotional, beautiful, but dark film that may be appropriate for more mature tweens

My 12-year-old watched the first two installments of this, "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," and "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes." I took hi... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byKay01 July 15, 2017

I really enjoyed it

This is a really good movie and I went to see it yesterday but it's violent for people who are younger and I wouldn't recommend children under 14 to... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written bysabts July 14, 2017

What's the story?

In WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES, Caesar (Andy Serkis), the apes' intelligent leader, has just won the battle of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, but more troops are coming. As Caesar ponders his options, his home is attacked by soldiers, with tragic results. Caesar decides to move his tribe to a new location, but thirst for revenge causes him to hit the road, seeking the colonel responsible for the attack. He's accompanied by Maurice (Karin Konoval), Rocket (Terry Notary), and Luca (Michael Adamthwaite). On the road, they meet a young girl (Amiah Miller), whose voice and mannerisms seem to have been affected by something. They also meet a zoo ape, called "Bad Ape" (Steve Zahn), who helps. Eventually, Caesar meets the Colonel (Woody Harrelson), but he must face his toughest challenges before everything ends.

Is it any good?

Director Matt Reeves follows the excellent Dawn of the Planet of the Apes with this even more complex, darker, smarter sequel, which seems destined to resonate longer than a typical popcorn movie. War for the Planet of the Apes is thrilling, expertly made, and packs an emotional punch, especially thanks to canny motion-capture performances by Serkis and Zahn and a thrillingly layered human performance by Harrelson.

Skipping shaky-cam footage and lazy editing, Reeves' direction is razor-sharp, swift, and clear, even if it reverts to its true status as a popcorn movie every so often by lifting bits and pieces from Apocalypse Now and Star Wars. War for the Planet of the Apes wrestles with issues of slavery and war and their roots in fear, but it does so in a way that lets viewers reach their own conclusions. Its greatest trick is that it effectively places the audience's sympathies with the non-human characters, turning a light on the fatal flaws and destructive demeanors of humans. Even as viewers are exhilarated, they'll also find that the movie's substance sticks with them for awhile.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about War for the Planet of the Apes' violence. Does the fact that it happens to non-human characters make it any less potent? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • Did you find yourself rooting for the apes over the humans? Both equally? How did you feel about this?

  • What does the movie have to say on the subject of racism? What about war? Do you agree?

  • How does this film compare with the rest of the titles in the franchise? How has it aged over the years?

Movie details

For kids who love action and sci-fi

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