Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes

Director: Wes Ball
Starring: Owen Teague, Eka Darville, Travis Jeffrey, Freya Allen, Kevin Durand, Peter Macon, William H Macy
Distributor: Disney/Fox
Runtime: 145 mins. Reviewed in May 2024
Reviewer: Fr Peter Malone msc
| JustWatch |
Rating notes: Science fiction themes and violence

Years after the reign of Caesar, a young ape goes on a journey that will lead him to question everything he’s been taught about the past and make choices that will define a future for apes and humans alike.

After a successful trilogy during the 2010s, here is the beginning of a new trilogy. It seems 21st-century audiences have taken favourably to Planet of the Apes films, with this being the tenth.

For those of us who were watching films in 1968, the impact of the original Planet of the Apes was unexpectedly powerful. We went on a journey to a strange planet of intelligent apes with Charlton Heston, and, with him, were overwhelmed by the final discovery of the name of the planet. Then there were five rather ordinary sequels, with titles like Conquest, Battle, Escape… And Tim Burton ventured on a remake with the original title in 2001, not so well received. But, the trilogy of the 2010s, Rise, Dawn, War… with its focus on the commanding ape leader, Caesar, performed by Andy Serkis, reinvigorated interest.

This film is long. Some have complained that there is not enough action, too much serious reflection. On the other hand, most have been impressed with the re-creation of this ape world, opening in a small village rather than in the kingdom, information given that humans have created a virus long since which has affected the apes and enhanced their intelligence and had an overpoweringly harmful effect on the humans. These apes are great climbers, protectors of eagles and cherishing eggs from their nests. (And the climbing will have great significance in the final action.)

Ball, the director, says he was influenced by Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto, the impact of the conquistadors on the local Mexicans. So, this is a story of the abduction of the villagers after an attack by giant marauding apes to become part of a huge kingdom by the sea, establishing life in the village, a sympathetic view, and the rise of a lone hero, Noa (Teague), who witnesses the defeat and capture, but then goes on a quest, accompanied by an intelligent human, Mae (Allen) who is something of a mystery to the apes but has strong motivations of her own. Noa is taught wisdom by benign giant ape Raka (Macon) and, at first trusted by Proximus (Durand), the leader of the dominating apes, collaborate with Mae, discover the remnants, still active, of giant military installations.

Yes, there will be a revolution combining the apes’ intelligence, lost human technological powers, an interesting appearance from Macy as a retired intellectual, and then the uprising, the combat, the ingenuity, and a wonderful range of special effects.

For most audiences, enjoyable, interesting, and a deal to reflect on.

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