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Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes Review: A Strong Continuation


Courtesy of 20th Century Studios


Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is the newest Planet of the Apes movie, this time directed by Wes Ball, and stars Owen Teague, Freya Allen, Kevin Durand, Peter Macon, and William H. Macy. Three hundred years after the events of the 2017 movie War for the Planet of the Apes and the death of Caesar, Apes have become the dominant species on Earth and have created different clans. A young chimpanzee named Noa, who is part of an ape clan that raises falcons, goes on a journey to save his clan and meets a human named Mae who is more intelligent than the other humans. This journey determines whether apes and humans can coexist.


While Planet of the Apes has been around for over fifty years, the recent series that began in 2011 with Rise of the Planet of the Apes has won over audiences. The story of Caesar which went through a few movies was the best in recent blockbuster history. When this movie was announced back in 2022, I was excited but also nervous. Would Wes Ball honor what Rupert Wyatt and Matt Reeves have established? Would the new characters stand out like Caesar, Maurice, Rocket, and the previous characters? It’s safe to say Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes continues the current strong streak of Planet of the Apes movies.


Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes has a theme of defining the legacy of Caesar. While this is many generations later, Caesar’s teachings are still there. Some apes, like the orangutan Raka, believe Caesar wants peace with the humans and that apes do not kill apes. Some apes, like the antagonist Proximus Caesar, believe in altered versions of Caesar’s teachings like ape superiority. Some apes like Noa aren’t even familiar with Caesar and learn from Raka about Caesar.

T

he new characters work well in this movie. Noa is a different kind of protagonist from Caesar, who also has some similarities regarding wanting to protect his ape clan. Owen Teague portrays Noa well, with the motion capture still top-notch. Noa’s ape clan forges bonds with falcons and this tradition plays a key role in the movie. He wants to explore and try to live up to the reputation of his father. He also makes mistakes that are costly but works hard to make things right. The conflict on what Caesar means to him is also presented so well, with himself questioning if humans and apes can coexist.


Raka, played by Peter Macon, is another great character who is one of the last apes to fully understand Caesar’s legacy and tries to make sure it lives on. Kevin Durand plays Proximus Caesar, the arrogant ape king who has twisted Caesar’s teachings and wants to use human technology for his own goals. He’s not like Koba from Dawn of the Planet of the Apes who was a superior villain. Freya Allen as Mae, the intelligent human woman, also delivers a great performance. She has her own goals and allies herself with Noa to obtain them.


Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes combines elements and themes from the original movies and the recent trilogy well. For example, the apes rounding up humans connect to the original Planet of the Apes. The action improves from the previous movies, creating more emotional and exciting action sequences. The journey Noa goes on shows how much the world has changed, with the remains of ships being used as part of the kingdom Proximus rules. John Paesano’s score, while not as memorable as Michael Giacchino’s score from the other movies, is still great.


There are only a few issues I had with Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes. The first issue is Proximus Caesar isn’t in the movie as much as he was marketed. While Durand gives a great motion-capture performance, he doesn’t have the presence that was hyped up in the trailers. The second issue is the movie repeats a couple of things from War for the Planet of the Apes, mostly in the third act. The movie does slow down in the third act compared to the well-paced first two acts. Despite that, the movie still has a unique take for most of the movie that sets up new characters well and opens a lot of doors for the future of the franchise.


Overall, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is another great addition to this franchise. The new characters are established well, and the legacy of the recent trilogy is treated well. There is never a dull moment, and the action is some of the most entertaining action I have seen in a few years. While the antagonist Proximus should have gotten more screen time, he is another great villain in this series. Wes Ball’s direction is at its highest in this movie and shows he is capable of directing his upcoming The Legend of Zelda movie. The future of this franchise looks bright, and I can’t wait to see what they do next.


My final grade for Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is an A-. The movie has great effects and a solid story that pays tribute to the legacy of Caesar. If you are a fan of the Planet of the Apes movies, I highly recommend you check this one out. What are your thoughts on Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes? Let us know in the comments below.

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