So good is the motion capture now, you forget these apes aren’t real. Andy Serkis is back and above the line as Caesar, the talking ape who leads the resistance against the humans who’ve asserted some kind of brief superiority, led by Woody Harrelson’s Kurtz-like General.
The humans have impounded the apes in a vast facility. Can our posse lead the masses to freedom as they journey on horseback (apes learned to ride in the last movie, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) across the snows?
There are shades of a Western here, and of Apocalypse Now, the journey upriver into madness (someone’s helpfully scrawled Ape-Pocalypse Now on a wall), and one might even add, later, the Great Esc-Ape.
But there are treacherous apes too, ones who’ve gone to the other side, like the Vietnamese who helped the Americans.
In fact, there’s lots of great stuff here (Steve Zahn as a vulnerable old escapee from a lab conditioned to call himself Bad Ape, is particularly welcome), although the thoughtful, philosophical elements about nature, nurture, man and his inner beast etc that have been such a feature of this rebooted series are jettisoned in favour of big action set pieces. We could also have done with a few more female characters among the apes. Still, I like this franchise and this is a powerful entertainment.