“Apes together, strong” is a fitting mantra for Caesar, the super-smart lab chimp played by Andy Serkis around whom 20th Century Fox's Planet of the Apes prequel trilogy orbits. First it was his righteous rallying cry as he led a simian revolt against human oppressors in 2011's Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Then it became a plea for peace and unity in the superb 2014 sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, as fear and war-mongering rent his ape utopia asunder.
With War for the Planet of the Apes now wrapping up the story, it also serves as an 'ape-ropos' meta-assessment for the series itself. Under the sturdy guidance of husband-and-wife producers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (who co-wrote the first two chapters before turning scripting duties over to writer-director Matt Reeves, who also helmed Dawn), these three straight-faced precursors to a verbose and silly 60s sci-fi represent the best of what the modern studio culture can accomplish; A high-minded dramatic saga driven by emotion over spectacle, and serviced (rather than shadowed) by technical innovation. Taken as a whole, these Apes reboots leave an impression far more enduring than any of them do as standalone entities. Even if War doesn't quite match the sprawling Shakespearean complexity of Dawn, it still delivers a grand conclusion to what has stealthily become the finest blockbuster franchise of its decade. Apes together, strong.