War for the Planet of the Apes: Visuals stun in survival fight
Monkey business becomes deadly serious in the third chapter of the rebooted sci-fi franchise.
Matt Reeves retains his position at the helm of this cataclysmic showdown between the last remnants of mankind and genetically enhanced primates, who have survived the latest bout of simian flu.
So much of the picture relies on the latest motion-capture visual effects to translate the performances of a gifted human cast into richly textured animal protectors and warriors.
The results are jaw-dropping.
It's a glittering showcase for Andy Serkis' tour de force portrayal of the leader of the ape uprising.
Everyone has blood on their hands and Reeves' contemplative script, co-written by Mark Bomback, corrupts characters on both sides of the conflict in the name of survival.
The only winners, when the computer enhanced dust settles after almost two-and-a-half hours, are audiences who have been on this roller coaster since 2011 when the ALZ-113 virus ravaged the globe.
Twelve years have passed since that outbreak and Caesar (Serkis), his wife Cornelia (Judy Greer) and their two sons Blue Eyes (Max Lloyd-Jones) and Cornelius (Devyn Dalton) are living in exile.
The outcasts include wise Bornean orangutan Maurice (Karin Konoval), chimpanzee Rocket (Terry Notary) and Western lowland gorilla Luca (Michael Adamthwaite).
Under the cover of darkness, Colonel McCullough (Woody Harrelson) and his sharp-shooting soldiers stage an assault on the ape stronghold and kill most of Caesar's family.
The grief-stricken leader orders the survivors to flee in search of a new home while he exacts revenge on the colonel.
En route, they encounter an outcast chimpanzee called Bad Ape (Steve Zahn), who escaped from his zoo enclosure, and an orphaned girl (Amiah Miller), whom Maurice becomes a surrogate parent to.