Review: Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Sunday, May 26th, 2024  

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes

Studio: 20th Century Studios
Director: Wes Ball

May 13, 2024 Web Exclusive
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Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes proves to be the worthy successor to the planet in this phenomenal follow-up to Matt Reeves’ excellent original trilogy by director Wes Ball. Kingdom proceeds to grow the Planet of the Apes franchise outward in an organic way, introducing the audience to a new protagonist to connect with and developing several potential antagonists for future opportunities. It can be forgiven that many worried about the future of the Apes franchise after such a stellar three-film offering, but rest assured, the quality of writing and direction remains as powerful as ever.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes begins with a final view of our original cast of apes laying Caesar to rest on a pyre with his original symbol, looming large over his funeral pyre. Many generations later the picture becomes more vibrant in an overgrown ruin of a city. Our new heroes led by Noa (Owen Teague) are attempting a dangerous climb to a hawk’s nest to obtain eggs to raise for their clan. Noa’s clan is a hunting-gathering society that is peaceful with nature and is long devoid of human influence though what’s left of humanity is spoken of in rumors and speculation. Noa and his friends’ secluded existence is quickly turned upside down with the appearance of a young human girl, later dubbed Nova (Freya Allen). Nova and her unique, mysterious nature bring conflict to the village as a new faction of warring apes led by Sylva (Eka Danville) subjugate the occupants and take them far away to the “Kingdom” led by Proximus Caesar (Kevin Durand). Noa is left behind and begins a quest to save his people while meeting new companions along the way.

One companion that stands out among the rest is an orangutan named Raka (Peter Macon). Raka is a follower of the teachings of Caesar, now viewed as an almost messianic figure to this generation of apes. Macon’s portrayal is insightful, kind, and a source of levity and heart within the film establishing him as an endearing part of a spectacular cast. As Noa, Teague delivers a worthy heroic successor whose moral compass slowly grows in the face of adversity. Every line he delivers is calm and effective,=dsf and depicts the nature of an individual called to leadership. His relationship with Allen’s Nova and Durand’s Proximus builds a fascinating triangle that one must see the film to truly grasp. Allen delivers a grounded and surprisingly layered performance as one of the few live action human cast members of this film. Her relationship with Noa flourishes during plot progression to foreshadow an idea of where this story is going after its conclusion. Proximus on the other hand is a stunningly charismatic leader portrayed by the ever-versatile Durand. Durand’s good nature and extravagant depiction of underlying morally gray characters catapults him into one of the series’ best mischief-makers, almost envisioning what the ape race would have been led by Koba (Toby Kebell’s original villain).
The movie’s portrayal of a post-apocalyptic green overgrown world devoid of human influence is a breath of fresh air to the consistent nihilism found in most similar cinematic experiences. Ape society is primal in a way, but fully embraces the tribal aspect early humanity took before them. In many ways, the writers go above and beyond in contrasting the apes’ unique societies compared to their devolved human counterparts. The remnants of humanity influence the apes to a better path all while nature leads them into similar conflict with each other in a tale as old as time. The apes speculate about their human predecessors and the world they left behind with such awe and wonder, it’s easy to forget that you are looking at Studio WETA-created replications of Apes. Facial expressions have such layered performances by the actors beneath the CG the establishing relationships of the chimpanzees and orangutans can be identified without dialogue at all. Needless to say, this is computer-generated imagery at its finest.

Ball treats the crowd to sprawling vistas of green decrepit buildings that fill the audience with a sense of wonder and paint a clear picture of our ruined world as an idealistic landscape for apes to traverse. The environmental story-telling evokes an image of a nature recaptured from human hands while the story supplants this effort revealing the underlying poison left behind that can derail this idealistic ape paradise. Ball’s guidance also keeps the locales bright and alive in contrast with War’s dark and bleak atmosphere working towards the plot’s advantage. One slight criticism is the overall direction’s dependency on the promise of sequels to come, leaving some ideas on the table in favor of establishing a mystique for the future in lieu of telling a tight self-contained story. That said, fans of the original Charlton Heston-era Apes films will likely be surprised by the twists and turns the plot takes to enrich the already palpable ambiance the newer films have established. Should this film find success at the box office, it will only serve to cultivate subsequent outings with this current production team in place.

One can only recommend that this film be seen on the big screen to get the most bang for your buck. Its sense of scale and excellent imagery leave nothing to the imagination. The action continues to be a high point for the franchise and the plot is a natural progression for more excellent films. Ball’s directorial effort brings this feature to a new level just as formidable as its previous entries. This film is a joy to watch with great characters to root for and against. The duality of its ending is polarizing in a deft way that only serves to whet the appetite of filmgoers for another outing as soon as possible. (www.20thcenturystudios.com)

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 2/10



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