I could write about War for the Planet of the Apes, and about how lifelike their digital effects are for the primates. I could talk about the emotion Serkis conveys through his vocal performance and movements. Woody Harrelson is one of the best villains to grace the big screen this year, and this movie cemented these three movies as a contender for best film trilogy. Yet, my biggest take away from these three films is how well they work as one large story.
All three of these films are improved watching them back-to-back. Alone, Rise is a sci-fi story about corrupt scientists exploiting nature and having their test subjects rebel violently. But by the end of the trilogy the first film turns into the birth of a legend. Dawn's plot has been seen before, predominantly in films where outsiders encounter natives but one of the leaders has a distrust and hatred that boils into conflict (i.e. Pocahontas, Avatar). However, put into the grand narrative this is about Caesar realizing that apes and humans aren't as different as he thought. Then in War we see a story that's been reflected in human history (i.e. Holocaust, Exodus), further emphasizing how similar Apes and Humans are in this series. But by the end we see the culmination of the journey Caesar had started back in Rise. That's the one thing that these Apes films have over some of the other trilogies. Their sequels made them better. Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy is great, but there's very little connective tissue that requires sequential viewing. The Lord of the Rings is an epic journey, but it's an arduous one (especially in the way they should be watched which is the extended editions). I love those trilogies more, but I can appreciate the focus on Caesar's journey from humble beginnings into legend.