Matt Reeves returns to helm the third and final entry in the titanic Planet of the Apes cycle, and he does our species of homo-sapiens proud, as we see Caesar and his apes forced into a lethal clash with an army of humans led by a ruthless, genocidal colonel.

Retooling the less than stellar Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973), this third outing involving the most lifelike anthropoids you’ll find outside of the confinements of a zoo is the strongest and smartest in the saga yet – and that includes the original Charlton Heston version from 1968 – thanks in no small part the grim story, Michael Giacchino’s majestic score and career-high performance from Andy Serkis.

The allusions to fascism and slavery are as evocative as ever, with mutant humans in chains and subjugated apes referred to as “donkeys”, though the frequent visual callbacks to the war in Vietnam may leave a sour taste in one’s mouth – especially having watched Kong: Skull Island (2017). Once again, the effects and motion capture are nothing short of dazzling, culminating in a superbly crafted, pyrotechnic battle between two armies.

A satisfying conclusion to Caesar’s epic journey, War for the Planet of the Apes effortlessly balances operatic popcorn action and spectacular technical magic with a cerebral script to deliver a unique and utterly unforgettable cinematic feast and one of the fines movie trilogies that will resonate with cinephiles the world over and is destined to be looked back on as a genre classic.

FINAL JUDGMENT: 9/10 Jeff Goldblums


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