Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes

Verdict: This sequel is a spectacular visual feast with impressive action sequences and motion capture performances

  • Kevin Durand, Freya Allan, Peter Macon
  • May 9th 2024
  • Wes Ball

Owen Teague’s young chimpanzee Noa embarks on a journey to rescue his family and friends after they are captured by evil apes.

It’s only been seven years since the Caesar-starring trilogy concluded with War for the Planet of the Apes but the franchise has already been revived by Wes Ball with Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes.

Taking place many generations later after Caesar led the ape rebellion against the humans, Kingdom is set in a world where talking apes are the dominant species while humans – who are mostly now feral – hide in the shadows.

The story follows a young chimpanzee named Noa (Owen Teague via performance capture) as he leaves his home for the first time and ventures out into the world after his village is destroyed and its inhabitants are taken to work for Proximus Caesar (Kevin Durand).

Along the way, Noa befriends his first human, a girl named Mae (Freya Allan), and a wise orangutan named Raka (Peter Macon), who teaches him about Caesar and what he stood for.

Kingdom of the Planet of Apes does a wonderful job of exploring how Caesar’s legacy has lived on for hundreds of years – some apes stand by his original teachings while others have twisted his words and given them a more menacing meaning. The film tackles these intellectual, complex themes in a digestible way.

The highlights are the mind-blowing visual effects and impressive action sequences. The CGI of the apes is so spot-on, even when they’re in water (and there’s lots of water), that you forget you’re watching actors. The cinematography is glorious, as are the locations and production design, so it really is a feast for the eyes.

However, there are some issues with the narrative. It is too long at 2 hours and 25 minutes, the pace is very slow at times and it really takes a while to get going. Also, Mae’s characterisation is inconsistent and the amount of make-up she wears is distracting – how does she have tinted lipstick in the wilderness?!

Noa, as the new lead, could have done with more flair and personality when he’s mostly reactive and bland. But, he grows throughout the movie and becomes much tougher as a result of his journey, putting him in a promising place for further movies.

Although it is slow and there are some narrative issues, Ball has made a worthy continuation of a beloved franchise. It harkens back to the previous trilogy a little but it mostly looks ahead to its bright future.

In cinemas from Thursday 9th May.

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