This ace sequel to 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, with Andy Serkis returning as prime primate Caesar, is another superior sci-fi fantasy.

It’s 10 years since the first film and, in the interim, humanity has been nearly wiped out by an outbreak of the simian flu triggered by scientist James Franco’s gene therapy experiments.

Caesar is now the leader of a tribe of apes living in the forests near San Francisco, but he finds his rule challenged by the militant Koba (Toby Kebbell) when the apes come into conflict with a band of human survivors living in the nearby city.

The storyline has echoes of 1973’s Battle for the Planet of the Apes, the fifth and final film of the original Apes cycle. There are good and bad elements on both sides, ranging from the heroic Caesar to the vengeful Koba among the apes and from Jason Clarke’s pacifist Malcolm to Gary Oldman’s militaristic Dreyfus among the humans.

But, in a film that works both as an exciting action movie and an intelligent moral fable, it’s the apes you find yourself rooting for, brought brilliantly to life by the stunning motion-capture performances and excellent visual effects.