Chimpanzee (U) ***

Oscar the baby chimpanzee.
Oscar the baby chimpanzee.
Steve Buscemi as Nikita Khrushchev, Jeffrey Tambor as Georgy Malenkov, Adrian McLoughlin as Joseph Stalin, Dermot Crowley as Lazat Kaganovich, Paul Chahidi as Nikolai Bulganin, Paul Whitehouse as Anastas Mikoyan and Simon Russell Beale as Lavrentiy Beria.

Cinema and TRAILER: The Death Of Stalin - cast and director interview

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Shot over the course of four years in stifling conditions, Chimpanzee is a remarkable nature documentary that grants us unprecedented access to a family of apes in the jungles of Africa.

Mark Linfield and Alastair Fothergill’s beautiful film soars above and below the forest canopy to capture the animals in this lush habitat, which is being irrevocably altered by the effects of climate change.

The cinematography is stunning on the big screen.

One slow-motion sequence captures a rainstorm in the forest.

Raindrops plummet from the heavens, exploding on leaves and bulbous fungi, which expel plumes of spores into the atmosphere with each watery impact.

Later in the film, darkness descends and the forest floor is magically lit by the soothing glow from the flora and fauna.

Tim Allen provides light-hearted narration throughout the film that doubles as the apes’ internal musings.

‘It’s a special day in this deep, dark forest...’ he begins, introducing us to three month-old chimpanzee Oscar clinging to his mother Isha for support.

They belong to a larger pack under the control of an experienced alpha male called Freddy.

‘He’s large and in charge,’ continues Allen, explaining that Freddy is master of one fertile section of the forest, which is under constant threat from a rival band led by the merciless Scar.

Early scenes witness Oscar and the other newborns at play, terrorising their exhausted parents and failing to get to grips with sticks and rocks that are vital tools for splitting open tasty nuts.

Tension creeps into the narrative when Scar and his posse raid a grove of fig trees on the eastern border of Freddy’s domain.

It sets up a climactic showdown which attests to the power of teamwork to overcome brute force.

Here, harrowing sequences show the two clans locked in fierce combat.

Individual personalities are accentuated by Allen’s entertaining running commentary that brings a lump to the throat when tragedy strikes.

The film-makers’ dedication to capturing the breathtaking images becomes clear during the end credits when we are treated to behind-the-scenes footage of the crew.