Out with a bang.
The rebooted Planet of the Apes trilogy comes to a close with a movie boasting muscular action, sinewy ideas and strapping CGI effects.
It is 15 years since James Franco’s well-meaning scientist unwittingly triggered the so-called Simian Flu virus in the trilogy’s first film, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, setting in motion a series of calamitous events that would nearly wipe out humanity while raising apes to sapience.
The second film, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, saw a tribe of apes led by rebel leader Caesar (played in an astonishing motion capture performance by Andy Serkis) coming into violent conflict with a band of human survivors.
Now, in the final instalment of the trilogy, the enmity between apes and humans reaches a climax. Caesar is once more in the thick of things. At war with Woody Harrelson’s human military commander, Colonel McCullough, he undertakes a vengeance-fuelled quest with a handful of comrades, including big-hearted orang-utan Maurice (Karin Konoval), picking up two new companions along the way, mute human child Nova (Amiah Miller) and former zoo chimp Bad Ape (Steve Zahn).
Fans of the earlier Planet of the Apes cycle of the 1960s and 70s will spot a host of nods and allusions to those films. Meanwhile viewers who came in more recently can marvel at the rapid evolution in motion capture technology since the new series began. On one thing, everyone will agree. Serkis, bringing depth and soul to his simian role, is the greatest wonder of all.
Certificate 12A. Runtime 140 mins. Director Matt Reeves
Planet of the Apes trilogy available on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital from 20th Century Fox. Showing on Sky Cinema Premiere from 25 May.