War for the Planet of the Apes is the third movie in the Planet of the Apes saga. The apes have evolved into an intelligent society under the leadership of Caesar (Andy Serkis), who desires only to live peacefully in the woods. Human soldiers have arrived, however, and plan to wipe out the apes, of whom they’re afraid. Caesar is on lookout one night when Colonel McCullough (Woody Harrelson) finds Caesar’s home and, intending to kill Caesar, accidentally kills his wife and son. Caesar is wracked with grief and sets out for revenge, although he knows that this means giving in to his lower instincts.
Caesar’s loyal friends, Maurice the orangutan (Karin Konoval), Rocket (Terry Notary) and Luca (Michael Adamthwaite) insist on joining him. Along the way they encounter a man who is about to shoot at them, but the apes fire first and kill him. They search his house and find a young girl who can’t speak hiding under a bed. Maurice pleads for her life and Nova (Amiah Miller) joins the group. It seems that the virus known as simian flu, which increased the intelligence of the apes, is robbing humans of speech.
When the apes and Nova reach an encampment of soldiers, they’re dismayed to find many apes and their young caged in dreadful conditions. The adults are kept in chains and made to work without food or water. Caesar is captured and treated particularly badly. The other apes must devise a way to free their leader and save the rest of the apes from total destruction.
Here we outline any topics, issues and ideas in this movie that might upset children and adolescents, so that you can gauge whether it is appropriate for your child. For example, children and adolescents may react adversely to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, separation from a parent, animal cruelty or distress, children as victims, natural disasters and racism.
War; slavery; torture; tribalism
Here we identify any violence in this movie, and explain how and why it might impact on your child or adolescent. In general, movie violence can make children less sensitive to the use of violence in real life. Alternatively, they may become fearful about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world. In some contexts, it can also teach them to see violence as an acceptable means of conflict resolution.
There is frequent violence in War for the Planet of the Apes. For example:
- There are many battle scenes between men and apes. The fighters use rifles, hand grenades, explosions and arrows.
- Apes are shot at, killed, blown up and speared. They also fall to their death. Many dead apes have bloody wounds.
- An ape repeatedly hits a man with a rock, killing him.
- Caesar kills an ape for betraying his kind.
- One of the main characters is shot and killed by soldiers. This makes Nova cry.
- Caesar is knocked out and captured by soldiers. He’s put in a cage with other apes and tied up with chains around his neck and feet.
- A large ape known as Donkey (Ty Olsson) has sided with the humans and works as a guard for them. He repeatedly lashes out at the other apes with whips to keep them in line.
- A building that the apes are working on collapses, causing them to fall to the ground. Donkey whips the apes.
- Donkey whips Caesar and makes him collapse.
- The Colonel cold-bloodedly shoots an ape in front of Caesar.
- Caesar is strung up on a wooden cross. He almost dies, but Nova brings him water during the night. This saves his life.
- The Colonel tells Caesar about the virus that’s destroying the humans’ speech. His own son was infected with the virus so the Colonel killed him to save the rest of humanity. The Colonel also ordered his men to shoot all infected humans, but they refused so he killed them.
- The Colonel repeatedly hits and kicks Donkey.
- Caesar finds the Colonel drunk on his bed and unable to speak. The Colonel points a gun at his own head. Caesar grabs the gun and about to shoot him but finds he can’t. He leaves the gun instead and a gunshot is heard. Apparently the Colonel has shot himself.
Content that may disturb children
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, War for the Planet of the Apes has a lot of content that could scare or disturb children under five years. For example:
- The apes are well meaning, but they look fierce and scary.
- The soldiers also look scary. Their faces are painted black.
In addition to the violent scenes and scary visual images mentioned above, War for the Planet of the Apes has some scenes that could scare or disturb children in this age group. For example:
- Caesar falls into the river rapids, and it looks like he’ll die.
- Caesar finds his young son, Cornelius, who’s very sad that his mother and brother are dead.
- Caesar often dreams of Koba (Toby Kebbell). In the dreams, Koba’s face is covered in blood.
- Caesar blows up a petrol tanker, which explodes and destroys a fort. The explosion sets off a reaction that makes the whole valley erupt, causing a massive avalanche that wipes out everything in its path.
In addition to the violent and disturbing scenes mentioned above, War for the Planet of the Apes has some scenes that could scare or disturb children in this age group. For example:
- Caesar and his group come across several men who are covered in snow and appear to be dead. There’s blood on their faces and bodies. When the apes remove the hood of one of the men, he comes to life. This is quite scary. The man is obviously in a lot of pain so the apes kill him to put him out of his misery.
- When they reach the soldiers’ fort, Caesar and his group find many apes tied up on wooden tree crosses. Caesar cuts them down and discovers they’re not yet dead.
- Caesar is shown shivering on a cross. Instead of giving him a drink of water, Donkey throws the bucket over him.
Younger children in this group might be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above.
Nothing of concern
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
War for the Planet of the Apes shows characters drinking alcohol, including a scene in which the Colonel is drunk on his bed after finishing a whole bottle of alcohol. He then apparently shoots himself.
Nudity and sexual activity
Nothing of concern
The following products are displayed or used in War for the Planet of the Apes: Coca-Cola.
War for the Planet of the Apes has infrequent coarse language.
Ideas to discuss with your children
War for The Planet of the Apes, the third in this series, is a science fiction action movie. The movie is a prolonged battle between humans and apes with many distressing scenes. This makes it unsuitable for younger viewers.
War for The Planet of the Apes presents a world in which apes have managed to surpass humans in intelligence and thinking. The parallel between apes and mistreated humans in our own world is clear, and this raises some interesting philosophical questions. For example: what makes us human? Why do we think of ourselves as superior to other animals and, in some cases, people?
The main messages from this movie are that the results of war are mainly death and mass destruction, and that we can overcome our basic instincts with reason and rational thinking.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include loyalty, care and compassion.
You could also talk with your children about:
- why people fear those who are different
- whether it’s this fear that leads to the urge to dominate, enslave and torture
- how far you should be prepared to go for ‘the greater good’.