Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes – Review


Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is now the fourth movie in the rebooted Planet of the Apes series, which started with the previous films of Rise, Dawn, and War of the Planet of the Apes. Personally, I thought all of those films were excellent- I actually reviewed War of the Planet of the Apes and put it in my Best Films list that year.

Though, by the end of that movie, I felt that things were so circular that the only real way to go was to do a full-on remake of the original Planet of the Apes movie within this timeline. However, we’re not getting that in this film. We’re also not getting director Matt Reeves back, because he’s currently working on his Batman movies, so in his place for this movie we have director Wes Ball, who directed the Maze Runner movies. It was rather surprising considering there was such a gap between those movies and this one- he hasn’t directed anything since 2018!

I wanted to know what his direction is like now because of his upcoming projects, particularly his film adaptation of the Mouse Guard which has been kicking around Hollywood for ages, as well as the upcoming Legend of Zelda movie. Zelda fans, I will say that this film suggests he might do well on a leash. You could say that the Maze Runner movies aren’t very good, and he was leashed from adapting the books, but then you could say that those are really boring books with some of the most predictable plot twists you’ll ever see in your life.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is a sequel to the previous three films, but no characters return for this one. The film starts with a time skip from an unspecified amount of time, I’ve been told it was 300 years, but the film isn’t specific about that, it just says, ‘many generations later’.

The trailer leaves out a lot of the context of what will be happening in the movie, and in that sense, I’ll be avoiding plot synopsis for this review. To simply state it, this film is about warring factions between multiple ape groups, with one side being the young Noa (played by Owen Teague) and the villainous Proximus Cesar (Kevin Durand).

What this film does well is that it does have themes that relate back to the original Planet of the Apes, most notably, of how religious dogma is twisted, to decide who is worthy of life and death and equal rights. In that sense, the film is very successful. It’s probably the most basic film of the bunch, it’s a very by-the-numbers hero’s journey- and I think that’s where my issues lie. It’s not as interesting as any of the movies in the Cesar trilogy, especially considering that in the end of the last three movies, there aren’t that many human actors to work with who aren’t in motion capture suits (but the CGI effects are still excellent, but no-one is able to work motion capture as well as Andy Serkis was, which is a real shame!).

This film goes in some interesting directions on one hand, but on the other, I think it overwrites one of the big overriding factors of the last movie, and it ends up raising more questions than answers. Granted, that could be answered in a sequel, and the film is definitely gearing itself up for a sequel, with the team talking about this becoming a new trilogy. But let’s say that this film doesn’t do well in the box office- the reason I don’t like sequel-baiting is because a sequel is never guaranteed, and it would leave a lot of unanswered questions.

Visually, the film is excellent and the script, while not as engaging as the other films, is fine. I certainly found this film entertaining in many parts! But at the same time, I kind of came out of this one having a sense that this was going down the Marvel route of things, by planning the route of things before getting a good idea off the ground. That’s not to say this film was all about future movies, it concludes nicely, but there aren’t too many lingering character arcs left to do- but you could have said that about the other three movies, and they ended well.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes isn’t as strong as the films that came before it, but it’s still a good movie. If you liked the previous ones, definitely check this out. The motion capture is excellent, and the performances are well done. The story, for the most part, has some issues that I would like the team to iron out before the movie- it’s fine, but expect it to have the same sort of character moments from the previous movies.
Calvin – Nerd Consultant

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