Smart Spectacle: Our Review of ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - May 09, 2024
Smart Spectacle: Our Review of ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’

It’s actually really nice to see fresh life breathed into an established intellectual property WITHOUT a full tear down…

While Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes isn’t necessarily designed to be game changer, it’s a very well made tent pole genre picture that invites new fans to the fray without insulting the older generations and their love of the collective Apes franchise.

Set several generations in the future following Caesar’s reign, apes are the dominant species living harmoniously and humans have been reduced to living in the shadows. As a new tyrannical ape leader builds his empire, one young ape undertakes a harrowing journey that will cause him to question all that he has known about the past and to make choices that will define a future for apes and humans alike.

While it’s rarely “flashy” with some genuine bloated moments in the second act, there’s an immediacy to Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes that taps into the public and social ethos of the current landscape much like the original films in the 60’s and 70’s did.

Director Wes Ball (who audiences will know from the Maze Runner franchise) does a pretty solid job here in building out a world that we can recognize and relate to.  Sure, it borrows visual cues from a myriad of genre movies that have come before it, but that’s OK.  This isn’t a film that’s trying to give us something new, it wants to invite us into something that we recognize which it does and then some.

The film’s real strength here is a very smart script from writers Josh Friedman, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver as the eternal themes of man’s inhumanity to man are laid bare and not trying to provide answers but actually force us as audience members to ask questions and get invested in the characters on the screen as they go through their journey.

Owen Teague was a strong choice as our upstart young Ape, Noa who was struggling to find the strength and leadership in his clan as he finds his role and responsibilities in life changing pretty quickly.  Veteran Canadian character actor Kevin Durand does strong work next to him as the ape Proximus Caesar looking to fill the shoes of the legacy that Caesar from the last trilogy has left him while young Freya Allen takes on the human side of the equation and all the uncertainty that comes with it.

It’s hard to judge acting in such a CGI driven film, but all the lead actors involved really had a very keen sense of their characters and made it all seem effortless.  They’re so good that we as an audience don’t get distracted by William H Macy showing up in a fairly forgettable and throw away character.

Ultimately with a strong protagonist in place to drive future installments; Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes feels like it is channeling the spirit of the 1968 original because it reminds us that in this world of negativity and strife that we’re all living in that it’s going to take efforts from everyone to go that extra mile so that we can all find a way to live with one another.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes while not the flashiest film given it’s blockbuster trappings is a fantastic example of spectacle, smarts and social conscience which is the bedrock of the science-fiction genre.

This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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