War For the Planet of the Apes review: a soulful, mesmerising spectacle worthy of David Lean

Director: Matt Reeves; Starring: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Karin Konoval, Steve Zahn, Terry Notary, Amiah Miller. Cert tbc, 142 mins

Six years on from the reboot, life isn’t getting any easier on the Planet of the Apes. Following Rise of (2011) and Dawn of (2014), the series has now moved directly to War for, which is a galling development for those of us who’d dared to hope for Breakfast at.

Nevertheless, the smartest decision this unflaggingly smart summer franchise ever made was keeping each of its increasingly sober instalments ape-centric. Whenever crunch time arrives, the films throw in their lot with the simians, which casts humankind as the enemy and gives these classic frontier stories a thrillingly disarming and destabilising edge.

This trick is pulled earlier and more effectively than ever in returning director Matt Reeves’ icily engrossing new chapter, which modulates between revenge western and historical epic via Vietnam meltdown movie. In one scene, the words ‘Ape-pocalypse Now’ are actually scrawled on a tunnel wall, just in case the parallels weren’t already conspicuous enough.

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