War for the Planet of the Apes

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Short takes

Not recommended under 14; parental guidance 14 -15 due to violence, scary scenes and disturbing themes.

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for War for the Planet of the Apes
  • a review of War for the Planet of the Apes completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 20 July 2017.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 14 Not recommended due to violence, scary scenes and disturbing themes.
Children aged 14-15 Parental guidance recommended due to violence, scary scenes and disturbing themes.
Viewers aged 15 and over OK for this group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: War for the Planet of the Apes
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Mature themes and violence
Length: 140 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

This is the third film in the Planet of the Apes saga. The apes have evolved into an intelligent society under the leadership of Caesar (Andy Serkis) whose only desire is to live peacefully in the woods. A group of human soldiers have arrived however, and plan to wipe out the apes, of whom they are afraid. Caesar is on lookout one night when the 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 to get his revenge while understanding that this is succumbing to his base 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, killing 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 small group reach an encampment of soldiers they are 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 unfortunately 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.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

War; slavery; torture; tribalism

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is frequent violence in this movie including:

  • There are many battle scenes between men and apes using repeat rifles, hand grenades, explosions and arrows.
  • Apes are shown being shot at, killed, blown up, speared and falling to their death. Many dead apes are seen with 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 is 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) is siding with the humans and is used as a guard. 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.
  • Caesar is also whipped by Donkey causing him to 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 which saves his life.
  • In a conversation between the Colonel and Caesar, the Colonel tells Caesar about the virus that is destroying the humans’ speech. His own son was infected with the virus so the Colonel killed him in order 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 is unable to speak. The Colonel points a gun at his own head. Caesar grabs his gun and is going to shoot him but finds he can’t. He leaves the gun instead and a gunshot is heard- apparently the Colonel has shot himself.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there is much in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • The apes, although well meaning, look fierce and scary
  • The soldiers also look scary, with their faces painted black.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Caesar falls into the river rapids and it looks as if he will die.
  • Caesar finds his young son Cornelius, who is very sad that his mother and brother are dead.
  • Caesar often dreams of Koba (Toby Kebbell) with his face covered in blood.
  • Caesar blows up a petrol tanker which explodes, destroying the fort. This sets off a reaction which makes the whole valley erupt, causing a massive avalanche, which wipes out everything in its path.


Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • Caesar and his group come across several men who are covered in snow and appear to be dead. There is blood on their faces and bodies. When they remove the hood of one of the men he comes to life – this is quite scary. He’s 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 are not yet dead.
  • Caesar is seen shivering on a cross and instead of giving him a drink of water, Donkey throws the bucket over him.

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger children in this group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Coca-Cola

Sexual references

Nothing of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

Nothing of concern

Use of substances

There is some drinking of alcohol, including the scene in which the Colonel is seen drunk on his bed having finished a whole bottle of alcohol. He then presumably shoots himself.

Coarse language

There is infrequent coarse language in this movie, including:

  • ‘my God’; ‘Jesus Christ’; ‘goddammit’

In a nutshell

War for The Planet of the Apes, the third in this series, is a science fiction action film in which apes have managed to surpass humans in their intelligence and thinking. The parallel between apes and mistreated classes of humans is clear, which raises some interesting philosophical questions such as what it is that makes us human and why we always think of ourselves as superior to other animals and, in some cases, people. The rightly M-rated movie is a prolonged battle between man and ape with many distressing scenes which make it unsuitable for younger viewers.

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 parents may wish to reinforce with their children include loyalty, and care and compassion.

Parents may wish to discuss:

  • why people fear those who are different
  • if it is this fear that leads to overpowering, enslavement and torture?
  • how far someone should be prepared to go for ‘the greater good’?