Tuesday 9 July 2024

REVIEW: Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes (2024 Film) - Starring Owen Teague and Freya Allan

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes

Review by Jon Donnis

"Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes" (2024) is a triumphant return to the beloved franchise, directed by Wes Ball and penned by Josh Friedman. This standalone sequel to "War for the Planet of the Apes" (2017) and the fourth installment in the reboot series, transports audiences to a post-Caesar world where apes reign supreme and humans lurk in the shadows.

Set generations after Caesar's reign, the narrative follows Noa (Owen Teague), a young chimpanzee from a falconry-practicing clan, on a journey that challenges his understanding of the past and shapes the future of both apes and humans. The plot kicks off with Noa's preparation for a coming-of-age ceremony, only to be disrupted by a human scavenger and subsequent attack by a group of ape raiders led by the ruthless gorilla general Sylva (Eka Darville). Noa's world is shattered as his village is decimated, his father Koro is killed, and his clan is abducted.

The film's visual effects are nothing short of spectacular, with near-perfect CGI that brings the apes and their world to life in a convincing and immersive manner. The detailed depiction of various ape clans and their unique practices, as well as the contrasting portrayal of feral humans, creates a rich and believable world. The story is well-crafted, weaving together themes of leadership, survival, and the search for identity.

Owen Teague delivers a compelling performance as Noa, capturing his character's transformation from a naive youth to a determined leader. Kevin Durand's portrayal of Proximus Caesar, the ambitious bonobo monarch, adds a layer of complexity to the film, as his interpretation of Caesar's teachings drives the conflict forward. Peter Macon as Raka, the wise orangutan ally, provides a grounding presence, while Freya Allan's Mae (Nova) brings a human element that deepens the narrative.

One of the film's strengths is its ability to maintain the concept of apes ruling the planet without it feeling contrived or forced. The screenplay is well-written, balancing action with deeper philosophical questions about power, legacy, and coexistence. However, at over two hours, the film could have benefited from tighter editing to maintain a brisker pace.

While "Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes" is a strong addition to the franchise, it does have its shortcomings. William H. Macy's character, Trevathan, feels somewhat out of place, not adding significant value to the story. Additionally, the film lacks the shocking style of twist that made the original 1968 film so iconic, which may leave some longtime fans wanting more.

Despite these minor flaws, the film succeeds in being a thought-provoking and visually stunning entry in the "Planet of the Apes" series. It tackles contemporary issues through its allegorical narrative, although at times it may seem to push a political agenda rather than focusing solely on blockbuster entertainment.

Overall, "Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes" is a commendable effort that continues the legacy of the franchise with a solid blend of action, drama, and philosophical inquiry. It earns a respectable 7.5 out of 10, standing as a testament to the enduring appeal of the apes' saga.

Out Now in Cinemas and on Digital