Engaging “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” is a strong entry into the Apes franchise,(Movie Review.)

by Rosa Parra

The most recent “Planet of the Apes” trilogy is widely considered one of the best trilogies in cinema, but many conclude this franchise is a massively underrated one. I don’t have a personal connection to the IP and wasn’t excited to catch this new entry to the franchise, but after watching the first 13 minutes of this film at CinemaCon 2024, my interest went from zero to 100 instantly. I was impressed by the visuals and the character interaction we were presented with.

“Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” is directed by Wes Ball and stars Owen Teague, Freya Allan, Kevin Durand, Peter Macon and William H. Macy. Taking place years after Caesar’s reign, the film follows Noa, a young ape who navigates an unexpected journey after his home is attacked.

The visual effects in this film are not just stunning; they are integral to the storytelling. The seamless integration of CGI brings the apes to life, allowing them to talk and interact in a way that feels completely natural. The actors’ motion-capture performances with their spot-on facial expressions, body movements, and emotional delivery further enhance the realism. This level of detail in the visual effects drew me deeper into the characters and their stories, a testament to the strong writing and storytelling.

Caesar’s legacy is a prevalent topic of conversation throughout the film. I was impressed with the parallels this has with many religions. They explicitly used the name “Caesar” to justify atrocious actions. The stories passed down from generation to generation vary, mainly based on where the apes consider home. Developing rituals, traditions, and camaraderie speaks to the level of intelligence that the apes have evolved into, but at the same time, the human species has been forced to hide in the shadows.

The human story makes the viewer second-guess their true intentions. What was initially interpreted as a young woman needing “saving” quickly evolved into a woman following Noa to retrieve a vital object. The film did an excellent job of doing just enough with the human story to introduce a potential storyline for future movies. The film doesn’t shy away from letting these characters breathe, react and interact with other characters and their environment that is beautifully depicted, thanks to its gorgeous scenery.

While the movie has many strengths, it does suffer from inconsistent pacing and a lengthy runtime. The slow start can make the movie feel its length, and even though the third act picks up the pace, it wasn’t enough to prevent me from glancing at my watch. This is a minor flaw in an otherwise engaging film.

Overall, “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” is a strong entry into the Apes franchise. It’s engaging and substantial enough to pique my interest to any potential sequels.

4/5

Film Critic, Rosa Parra, also contributes to The Daily Chela and Rotten Tomatoes. You can also follow her on X.

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