‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ Movie Review: A Middling Installment for Fans

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes finds itself in that cinematic gray area—not unwatchable, yet not particularly compelling either. It’s a film that doesn’t quite find its footing, attempting to straddle past glory and fresh direction. That being said, if you’re a diehard fan of the franchise, there’s enough here for you to have a fun watch. However, as a causal fan, I wanted something more to pull me.

20th Century Studios’ Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes debuts in theaters nationwide on May 10, 2024. Directed by Wes Ball, this new chapter in the saga, set long after Caesar’s reign, shows apes as the ruling class and humans as shadow dwellers. As a despotic leader rises, a young ape’s perilous quest challenges his beliefs and could shape the future for both species.

Check out the trailer below.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes Movie Trailer

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes Movie Review: What I Did and Didn’t Like

On a positive note, the film features stunning visual effects and some genuinely humorous moments that lighten the otherwise serious tone. Wes Ball, known for directing the Maze Runner trilogy, adeptly utilizes action-packed scenes to engage viewers, particularly during the intense opening attack on Noa’s village.

Owen Teague, portraying Noa, brings a gentle, relatable presence to his role. However, where the film stumbles is in its commitment to originality. It feels very much like a rehash of previously explored themes and scenarios, offering little in the way of new narrative or overall thematic exploration. The promised depth of character development and storyline falls flat, leaving much to be desired in terms of engagement and emotional investment.

Furthermore, the ending teases a future that might be more intriguing than what we’re currently presented, raising the question of whether this installment exists mainly as a bridge to something potentially better.

The Script

The story sticks close to the franchise’s familiar themes—post-apocalyptic struggles, interspecies conflicts, and a hero’s journey that echoes its predecessors. Set long after the leadership of the famed Caesar, Noa’s tale is a diluted echo (pun intended – as that’s the term they use to refer to the humans) of past narratives, lacking the compelling political and philosophical undertones that marked the original films.

Simply put, it’s a story that struggles under the weight of its own legacy, striving to stand out but inevitably feeling derivative.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes
Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios

The Performances

Teague’s portrayal of Noa is commendable, providing a thoughtful, if underwritten, central anchor to the unfolding drama. The supporting cast, including Freya Allan and Kevin Durand, perform adequately but are hindered by a script that doesn’t offer much substance or depth for them to work with. The end results are performances that feel functional rather than transformative, capably moving the story along without leaving a significant impact.

Overall

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is a middling chapter in a franchise that has seen higher highs. It stands as a technically impressive but lackluster continuation. For fans of the series, it offers enough familiarity to be a fun watch but doesn’t fulfill the potential of the past films.

It’s not a complete misfire—some elements shine dimly through what feels like an overall generic film—but neither is it an addition that breathes life back into the storied saga. In essence, it’s more of a placeholder, biding its time, perhaps hoping the next installment can recapture the lost magic.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

Grade: C

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