There’s no monkeying about when the fur starts flying in this epic end to the sci-fi trilogy.
It’s a mean, meaty, and hair raising action adventure which doesn’t hang around and becomes increasingly tense and spectacular as the explosive conclusion approaches.
And it’s far superior to this year’s other monkey movie, the disappointing Kong: Skull Island.
This is a rare beast of a series, improving in quality from good to great to gripping.
In 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, scientific experiments led to apes talking, and in 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the humans were mostly wiped out by a virus.
Now the remainder of humanity is on the warpath and the talking apes are being hunted to extinction.
Caesar the chimp is a thoughtful tribal chief who abandons his responsibilities and sets off on a mission of personal revenge with a small group of friends.
When he’s confronted with the consequences of his disastrous failings as a leader, father, and spouse, Caesar seeks to redeem himself and save his tribe.
Heading a strong cast and reprising his role as Caesar, Andy Serkis provides the powerful emotional heart of this film with another mesmeric and masterful performance.
He is the king of motion capture technology, the process which convinces us the apes, gorillas and orang utans exist as living, breathing, and bleeding creatures, not just animated computer pixels.
Woody Harrelson brings a controlled menace to role of Caesar’s nemesis. He plays a crazy army colonel who has established the power of life and death over his troops.
Using humour to light the darkness is Steve Zahn as a stray ape in a beanie hat, and young Amiah Miller is a slight, sweet presence as mute human, Nova.
An ambitious script owes as much to British classics such as The Bridge on the River Kwai as it does to westerns such as Clint Eastwood’s The Outlaw Josey Wales. And there are unmistakable references to Vietnam war epic, Apocalypse Now.
This is a world of difficult choices and painful consequences, filled with madness, torture and death. Even older primary school kids may struggle with the heavyweight tone of a film pitched far ahead of films featuring spangly spandex superheroes or wise cracking giant robots.
Though the Hollywood jungle drums suggest this may not be the end of the story, the emotional finale guarantees you’ll go ape for this chest beating brute of a blockbuster.