Certificate: 12A

Running time: 140 mins

Star rating: 4/5

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MONKEY business becomes deadly serious in the third chapter of the rebooted sci-fi franchise. Matt Reeves, who directed the thrilling 2014 instalment Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, retains his position at the helm of this cataclysmic showdown between the last remnants of mankind and genetically enhanced primates. So much of the picture relies on the visual effects to translate performances of a gifted human cast into richly textured animal protectors and warriors. The results are jaw-dropping.

Reeves shoots pivotal scenes in close-up so we can see tears well in the creatures' eyes, or anguish ripple across their brows, as they face the stark possibility of extermination. It's a glittering showcase for Andy Serkis' tour de force portrayal of the leader of the ape uprising, begging tantalising questions about where performance ends and state-of-the-art trickery begins. Everyone has blood on their hands and the contemplative script corrupts characters on both sides of the conflict in the name of survival.

Twelve years have passed since the flu outbreak and Caesar (Serkis), his wife Cornelia (Judy Greer) and their sons are living in exile in the woods with the rest of the apes. Under cover of darkness, Colonel McCullough (Woody Harrelson) and his soldiers stage an assault on the ape stronghold and kill most of Caesar's family. War For The Planet Of The Apes is a fitting conclusion to several key storylines, which are underscored by composer Michael Giacchino's magnificent orchestral score. Serkis and Harrelson face off in a series of increasingly brutal set pieces that hammer home the senseless loss of life on both sides of the ideological divide. Reeves harnesses impressive technical might without obscuring the raw emotions that course beneath each digitally enhanced frame.