[Courtesy of 20th Century Studios]

Movie Review: Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes

07:00 May 14, 2024
By: David Vicari

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes (2024)

The Planet of the Apes films began in 1968 with the now classic Planet of the Apes, which spawned four sequels, ending with the lackluster Battle for the Planet of the Apes in 1973. The movie series was revived with the unexpectedly terrific Rise of the Planet of the Apes in 2011, resulting in a successful trilogy which ended with 2017's War for the Planet of the Apes. Now we have Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, which has connective threads to the previous trilogy, but is a stand-alone film and possibly the first film in a new trilogy.

[Courtesy of 20th Century Studios]

Kingdom takes place generations later after the events of War, so it's all new characters and no Andy Serkis as Caesar. The main character here is a young chimpanzee hunter named Noa (Owen Teague through motion capture), who is left for dead when a warring ape tribe raids his village. The leader of the marauding tribe, a bonobo dictator known as Proximus Caesar (Kevin Durand), has enslaved Noa's family and friends. The young chimp finds himself alone but is soon befriended by a wise orangutan, Raka (Peter Macon), and is also being followed by a human, Mae (Freya Allan). A plot involving human technology doesn't kick in until the second half of the movie.

Kingdom is well made from a technical standpoint. There are good motion capture performances from the actors, the CG effects are top notch, and there are good action scenes, but the movie, directed by Wes Ball (The Maze Runner trilogy), seams rather empty when it comes to thoughts and ideas. The Planet of the Apes films always had social and political commentary, and there are hints here about cultism, but the screenplay, credited to Josh Friedman, doesn't examine that idea too deeply. Plus with a running time of 145 minutes, this is just too darn long.

However, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes does tend to work as a mild slice of summer movie escapism.

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