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Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes




Rated PG-13 - for intense sequences of sci-fi violence/action.
Director: David Leitch
Starring: Owen Teague, Freya Allan, Kevin Durand, William H. Macy, Peter Macon, Sara Wiseman
Running Time: 2 hours, 6 minutes
Theatrical Release Date: May 10, 2024

READER RATING:   


Plot Summary

Many years after the reign of Caesar, a young ape goes on a journey that will lead him to question everything he's been taught about the past and make choices that will define a future for apes and humans alike. (from IMDB)


Film Review

Fifty-Five years after the first Planet of the Apes film, released in 1968, the franchise is still going strong. In 2011, the popular series was given a reboot, titled Rise of the Planet of the Apes, serving as a strong origin story for the dominating apes. In it, a human scientist determined to find a cure for the Alzheimer's disease accidentally releases a viral strain that kills most of the human population, while making apes extremely intelligent. The scientist, played by James Franco, raises an ape for several years, named Caesar, who ends up leading the ape revolution in the climax of the film. 2014 delivered its first sequel, the fantastic Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which takes place a decade after the events of Rise and sees Caesar living peacefully in the woods with his fellow apes. When humans, bent on survival, try to infiltrate Caesar's land to access a power plant's resources, prejudices on both sides cause a war to breakout between the apes and the humans. This leads to 2018's trilogy finale, War for the Planet of the Apes. The series draws to a close with Caesar's people being attacked by a fanatical human general who is bent on eradicating the apes and fighting anyone - other humans included - who might stand in his way. The movie ends with Caesar being mortally wounded, but not before having led his people to safety in a new land.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes
Since 2018, Disney purchased 20th Century Fox, who previously owned the franchise, and another sequel was put into development. Enter Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes. The fourth entry in the reboot series takes place "many generations later," with Caesar being a long remembered savior of the apes, and humans are still struggling to survive. With so much time having passed, we're entering into a totally new world with potentially hundreds of years of events having since taken place between films. But, thankfully enough, with a new director and a new cast of characters, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is a worthy continuation of the saga.

Now, to be clear, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes still takes place long before Charlton Heston's spaceship lands in the 1968 film. (Whether they decide to remake that movie as part of this series is, at this time, unknown. But it kind of seems unlikely. Picture these movies as what Rogue One and Solo are to the original Star Wars movie, and it kind of gives you an idea of how these movies all fit together.) In fact, the producers of this series - that began with Rise of... - have since said they envisioned 9 total films in this series, so there's potential for another five movies following Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes!

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes
Kingdom... opens with a brief, written recap of the first trilogy which then briefly shows Caesar's funeral (which wasn't in the last film). We're then catapulted generations later to a new trio of apes. Noa and his two friends are part of a tribe of apes that train eagles as part of their culture. Noa is young enough to not quite follow in his father's footsteps - a man who is the leader of this tribe - so the story that unfolds is very much a coming-of-age or loss-of-innocence story... just with apes. Caesar had been the main character of the first trilogy (Franco had been front-and-center of that first movie, but the focus eventually shifts to Caesar and his ape allies). Dawn had kind of split the focus between humans and apes a bit (still with Caesar at the center), but by the time we get to War for the Planet of the Apes, Caesar and the apes are completely the focus. This is their story (unlike the Transformers live action movies that follow the humans mostly, despite people filling the seats to see the robots brought to life more than any human story they could give us). Noa, who is played by Owen Teague, is the film's central character here. When we first meet him and his friends as they hunt for eagle eggs, it's easy to feel no longer familiar with this cinematic world. But we soon get to know Noa and his tribe... that is, just before his world is turned completely upsidedown. When Noa comes face-to-face with a new threat, the followers of a vicious ape ruler who calls himself Proximus Caesar, he's sent on a journey that has him questioning almost everything he's come to know about the world around him.

Although it had a solemn, if not entirely sad, ending, War for the Planet of the Apes was a rather satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. Sure, it didn't exactly lead up to the events of the 1968 movie, but it was a strong standalone series all its own. Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes really is a great start for something new. Elements of it, especially with the central characters being younger, brought some Avatar: The Way of Water vibes, but it has enough uniqueness to stand out and familiarity to fit in with what preceded it. (And I like these movies way better than any Avatar movie thus far.) The human storyline also progresses, as the humans continue to push back against annihilation, and it's a little bizarre to find ourselves rooting for a different species than our own.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes
Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is one of those rare movies where the previews didn't tell you the whole movie, and didn't give away any significant secrets. Although I had seen the previews a few times before other movies I've seen recently in the theater, I still felt like most of what I watched was fresh. So, with that said, I can't go into detail much without spoiling things, but I like the surprises that were left for the audience. The film's production values are also incredible, and the post-apocalyptic Earth was done quite well. While I do miss Caesar, the new characters are easy to warm up to, and I'm most certainly curious as to where the human storyline might be headed next.

The content for the movie is mostly PG-13 because of violence. Some of the ape-on-ape violence is pretty intense, as well as a bit bloody. A human character is also seen being choked to death, which may surprise some viewers. An ape is beaten till his face is bloody, another is seen dead and a little bloody, and Noa happens upon the aftermath of an attack and finds several dead and dying apes with blood on them. An animal is shot and we see blood bubble out of the wound before they keel over. There's a scene where an ape is killed and then, off screen, an evil gorilla rips something off screen and holds it up. It almost looks like it could be a spine, but it was hard to tell (and I couldn't find confirmation of this anywhere else online). Overall, it's got some intense moments and violence, but it's seldom gory; just a bit bloody at times. There is almost no profanity at all, but when an ape hears someone use the "S" word for the first time, he repeats it. Later in the film, something happens that surprises him and he says it again. (It's played for laughs, but it's still annoyingly predictable.)

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes
Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes may seem like a kind of unnecessary sequel, but it's a really good one, and it continues the Planet of the Apes prequel series really well. I continue to be impressed with this newer run of Apes films (I was never into the original ones much), and they're engaging enough to have me looking forward to future installments in the series.

If you're wondering if the movie is worth springing for an IMAX ticket, the answer is a resounding YES. Granted, I pretty much always prefer the larger format, but it does serve this movie well, so I definitely recommend it.

- John DiBiase (reviewed: 5/13/24)

 

 

Parental Guide: Content Summary


. Sex/Nudity: None. Some humans are seen in semi-small loincloths and almost caveman-like attire, but there is no nudity.
. Vulgarity/Language: 3 "S" words.
. Alcohol/Drugs: None.
. Blood/Gore: Noa happens upon a group of dead apes lying in a road, with blood on them; An elder ape is attacked and beaten up, showing some blood on his face. We later see him lying dead; A gorilla kills an ape off screen and we see him tearing something off screen and then holding it up victoriously. It's tough to tell if it's a bone necklace or an actual ape spine; Apes try to pull open a large metal door, but the ropes snap back and slash a few of them, showing some blood; An animal is shot and we see blood bubble out of the wound; An ape is beaten repeatedly until he is pretty bloodied up.
. Violence: Lots of action violence; Noa and his friends climb and leap up trees and rocks to get to eagles' nests. Noa then risks an especially dangerous jump and almost falls; Some apes and gorillas wield shock sticks that they use to shock and maim other apes; Noa falls through a hole in the ground and almost falls into a fire before getting caught on vines and steering clear of the flames; Noa tries to get an eagle to land on his arm but it scrapes his arm with its talons instead; Apes chase humans in groups, especially Mae; Noa and his friends are attacked on a bridge by gorillas and apes. Noa fights one when one of them falls off the bridge to help another character but is then swept away (and presumably dies in the rough waters); A large group or apes are shown in captivity and forced into labor; Apes try to pull open a large metal door, but the ropes snap back and slash a few of them; An animal is shot and we see blood bubble out of the wound. The animal then falls over dead; A dam is blown up and it floods a cave, drowning some apes as they escape the flooding waters; A gorilla chases Noa through a metal structure until the gorilla is trapped and drowns; A character wraps their legs around another character's neck and strangles them to death; An ape is beaten repeatedly until he is pretty bloodied up as he's thrown around; Birds attack an animal that then falls to its death; and other action violence.

 

Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.

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