‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ movie review: A corker of an adventure 

With awe-inspiring visuals, breath taking action sequences, uncanny CGI and underlying smarts, this prequel/sequel is a worthy addition to the canon 

Updated - May 10, 2024 08:40 pm IST

Published - May 10, 2024 06:10 pm IST

A still from ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’

A still from ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’

The title is a wee bit weird — a kingdom would logically be in a planet and not the other way around innit? Never mind, as, when one is dealing with a story of talking, civilised apes and mute, feral humans, one should not be bothering about semantics. Moving on, Wes Ball has delivered an absolute corker with this 10th film in the Planet of the Apes universe. I suppose the title makes some sort of franchise sense.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes
Director: Wes Ball
Starring: Owen Teague, Freya Allan, Kevin Durand, Peter Macon, William H. Macy
Story line: A young ape goes on a quest to find his family and also truths about apes and humans  
Run time: 145 minutes

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is set 300 years after the epic battle that killed Caesar, the chimpanzee that led the revolt against humans. Apes are on the top of the food chain, while humans eke out a living in the shadows as mute scavengers. Apes face the usual problems of civilization, with some wanting power, and others wishing to live quiet lives.

In the Eagle clan of chimpanzees, Noa (Owen Teague) and his friends, Soona (Lydia Peckham), who he has a crush on, and Anaya (Travis Jeffery), go hunting for eagle eggs for a rite of passage. After a thrilling climb, they get the eggs but also see a human lurking about. When Noa’s egg is broken, he decides to go back for another and returns to find his village in flames.

The village has been attacked by apes who follow Proximus Caesar (Kevin Durand), a bonobo who wants to speed up evolution, find human technology and rule the world. Noa’s father Koro (Neil Sandilands), the chief of the clan, is killed, while his mother Dar (Sara Wiseman), Soona and Anaya have been taken prisoner. Noa makes a promise over Koro’s corpse that he will find his family.

A still from ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’

A still from ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’

Noa sets off on a quest, learning and questioning things about his history, that he had taken for granted. Along the way, he acquires two companions — a wise orangutan Raka (Peter Macon) and a human girl Mae (Freya Allan) who has plans of her own. While most humans do not speak, there are some that do, including Trevathan (William H. Macy), who has gone over to the other side, teaching Proximus Roman history.

The gob-smacker visuals of Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes alone are worth the price of the ticket. Then there are breath-stopping action sequences, with gravity-defying leaps and incredible CGI, which makes the apes uncannily real. There is something awe-inspiring about the way nature reclaims her own, draping the once-proud glass and steel edifices with plants and creepers. The terminal at LAX, where Raka lives, and the deserted naval base with the skeletons of so many massive battleships looks like a post-apocalyptic Angkor Wat. The moss-festooned telescope at the observatory simultaneously obscures and shines a light.  

Ball, who made the super-popular Maze Runner movies, which is getting a reboot (why?), was reluctant to make a direct sequel to War for the Planet of the Apes. The 2017 movie was the concluding film of the reboot trilogy telling Caesar’s (Andy Serkis), story which started with Rise of the Planet of the Apes in 2011, followed by Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014).

With Kingdom… Ball has been wise to start a new trilogy, which acts as a bridge between Caesar’s story arc and the original Planet of the Apes starring Charlton Heston from 1968. While French novelist, Pierre Boulle used the concerns of the Cold War for his sci-fi satire La Planète des Singes in 1963, that Planet of the Apes is based on, 10 movies and innumerable iterations in different media later, the concerns are still the same.   

When a movie wows one with action and adventure and also makes one think, it is a winner all the way. Now all we have to do is wait for further adventures of Mae, Noa and friends backed by mind-blowing CGI and stunts.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is currently running in theatres

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