Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes – Review

After four ambitious and successful entries, the Planet of the Apes reboot-prequel franchise reaches what may be its conclusion with Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes. The film approaches the moment Charlton Heston and his crew crash-landed in 3978 in the original movie, marking where audiences first joined the story in 1968. This installment might theoretically make room for another prequel if it becomes a big hit, but it should ideally close the chapter.

While the energy and style remain intact, the story feels tangled, contrived, and anticlimactic due to the looming shadow of the original film. Everything that unfolds needs to align with what we know is coming. The story requires “good” apes to root for and “bad” apes to pave the way for the original’s imminent ape tyranny. Similarly, “good” humans must forge relationships with the “good” apes while exhibiting “bad” tendencies to maintain the fundamental ape/human antipathy. Functional observatories and radio telescopes are thrown in for good measure.

The film isn’t bad, relying on elements from The Lion King, but it’s a stark reminder that the original is incomparably superior. Pierre Boulle’s 1968 film was a sharp satire on power, drawing from themes also explored in The Bridge on the River Kwai, where white men are ironically enslaved.

Set “many generations” after Caesar’s reign, we find apes led by Proximus Caesar (Kevin Durand), a cruel and crazed leader presiding over a chaotic coastal encampment. Nearby lies an abandoned human vault that Proximus believes holds the key to ultimate power if only he can open it.

Meanwhile, the gentle Eagle Clan trains eagles under their leader, who is killed by Proximus and his troops wielding rudimentary tasers. The leader’s son, Noa (Owen Teague), escapes into exile and finds a mentor in the wise Raka (Peter Macon). Noa teams up with a lone human, Mae (Freya Allan), who harbors secret objectives, and they cross paths with Trevathan (William H. Macy), the human equivalent of Raka.

The confrontation with Proximus lacks the depth and complexity of Caesar’s earlier arc, leaving the climax somewhat jumbled and preposterous. However, the film does feature solid action sequences, and the CGI ape faces are impressive. The franchise has held up better than others, but it’s time to evolve into something new.

Wrapping Up

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes aims to bridge the gap between the reboot-prequel series and the original 1968 film. Though the story is tangled and anticlimactic, it offers an entertaining action-packed ride that serves as a tribute to the original. Despite its flaws, the film ensures the franchise ends on a high note with striking CGI and nostalgic storytelling.

Wrapping up with a confrontation between good and evil, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes leaves audiences reflecting on the journey so far while hinting at possibilities for future stories.

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