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‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ is a refreshing franchise entry

“Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” (2024) is directed by Wes Ball and stars Owen Teague, Freya Allan, Kevin Durand and Peter Macon. This film marks the tenth film in the “Planet of the Apes” franchise and takes place 300 years after the events of “War for the Planet of the Apes” (2017). 

In the film, almost all members of the human society are tarnished. The surviving humans are being captured by ruthless and cruel apes riding on horseback. They serve a king named Proximus Caesar (Durand), who also sends his guards to capture other apes not part of his kingdom.

The Eagle Clan, a small colony of apes that practice falconry with golden eagles, is attacked and brought to Proximus Caesar. The clan is led by a chimpanzee named Koro (Neil Sandilands), who has a wife named Dar and a son named Noa (Teague).

Noa is the story’s main hero, and he is a soft-spoken and shy ape who feels like he can never live up to his father’s status. Accompanying him are his struggles with taming his own eagle.

Once his colony is attacked and his family is captured, Noa must journey to the kingdom and free the members of his colony. Along the way, he meets a friendly and intelligent orangutan named Raka (Macon) and a human girl named Mae (Allan). Together, the three decide to help free the imprisoned apes held as slaves by Proximus Caesar. 

The “Planet of the Apes” franchise is one of the most interesting film franchises ever. It is one of the oldest movie franchises to keep producing new material, and it is also rich in its exploration of themes such as evolution and whether two highly intelligent species (humans and apes) can coexist in a stable society. 

“Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” tackles these same themes, but not to an extent that would have made the film better. This film follows the more traditional hero’s journey storyline with Noa overcoming Proximus Caesar and becoming the new leader of the Eagle Clan.

It would have been a challenge for any actor to replace Serkis’s Caesar in the previous three films. Noa definitely is not as iconic as Caesar, but he does not need to be. He is his own character, and the film does a decent job of establishing who Noa is, his flaws and his goals. 

Contrarily, the other characters in the film are not fully developed. Durand’s Proximus Caesar is a big disappointment. Durand does an amazing job as Proximus Caesar, but he needed more time to be established. This is likewise with Allan’s Mae and Macon’s Raka. 

Mae and Raka could’ve been so much better characters if they were given more backstory. The two actors do a swell job with each of their characters, but there is a sense they are missing something deeper. This is something the previous films did very well. Characters like Maurice and Koba are given so much in their backstories that they become on the same level of interest as Caesar. 

It is a shame some characters were not explored like these characters, since the foundations for Raka, Mae and Proximus Caesar were there. Hopefully, this will be worked on in future franchise installments.

The film also takes a little bit too long to get going with its plot. The film’s runtime is two hours and 25 minutes, but it felt much longer than that. A stop in the editing room would help this film with some scenes being trimmed down or cut out entirely. However, the film becomes much more enjoyable when the third act arrives.

Like the three films before it, the CGI and motion-capture technology used for this film are amazing. An over-reliance of CGI can be a detriment, but it can look phenomenal when used correctly. All of the apes in the film look real and are given little details showing how far technology has come.

The hair, skin, eyes, articulation of the mouth, movement and gestures are all well done. Props to the production crew for taking time to study how apes move and interact with other things. 

All of the  “Planet of the Apes” films do well in world building. Most of the film takes place in the woods or Proximus Caesar’s kingdom, but there are occasional scenes where the film will show locations that have buildings covered in foliage. It is simple but extremely effective. 

The homes the apes built for themselves are a special touch and the storyboard artists deserve praise. The absolute best aspect of the film is how Caesar’s name and history are known among the apes.

Proximus Caesar, the film’s antagonist, uses Caesar’s teachings and twists them for his own gain. Even the word ‘proximus’ means ‘next’ or ‘nearest’ in Latin. Therefore, his name literally translates to next Caesar.

Proximus Caesar serves as a Christ-like figure for the apes in his kingdom. However, he is no Caesar. He does not care about these apes, their wants or needs. He only cares about what he wants to have using them as his slaves.

“Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” tries to accomplish a lot, but it only does in a few areas. There is room for improvement when it comes to fleshing out secondary characters and having a better pace.

The film is still being played in theaters, so if you are a fan of the franchise, this film is worth a watch. 

Rating: 3/5


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