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Movie Review: 'Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes'

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is one of best of the year.

By Sean PatrickPublished about a month ago ā€¢ 5 min read

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes (2024)

Directed by Wes Ball

Written by Josh Friedman

Starring Owen Teague, Freya Allen, Kevin Durand, William H. Macy, Peter Macon

Release Date May 10th, 2024

Published May 13th, 2024

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is a remarkable adventure. Smart, extraordinarily accomplished, and very entertaining. Directed by Wes Ball, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is a layered and thorough adventure which uses the story of the Apes to reflect our modern culture. It's a statement movie that is easy to miss if you prefer just looking at Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes as an action adventure and special effects extravaganza. The statement is a full-throated rebuke of fascism and the notion that any one person or ape should be allowed to become a dictator.

It's also about how being a dictator can blind you to the truth. The character of Proximus Caesar has all of the tools to know that his desperate clinging to power and the piety with which he approaches his vision of ape superiority is going to be his downfall. Yes, you could argue that this merely mirrors the approach of Dr. Zaius in the original Planet of the Apes but this would require you to ignore the world we live in right now where we have a burgeoning movement of people who wouldn't mind installing a dictator who will rule with an iron fist, punish their enemies, and reward those who choose to be loyal to them.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes stars Owen Teague as Noa, a young ape looking to prove himself to his father, one of the elders and leaders of the Eagle Clan. Noa's clan is known for keeping Eagles who will hunt and gather fish to bring back to the clan. A rite of passage in the clan is for those coming of age to travel into the wild and find an Eagle egg to bring back to the clan. The egg will then be taken care of until hatched and then the Eagle is raised by that young person to be their Eagle. The opening action of the movie is a terrific set piece in which Noa and his closest friends, Soona (Linda Peckham) and Anaya (Travis Jeffery). It's a terrific sequence that establishes Noa as brave, resourceful and headstrong.

The plot kicks in when members of a clan directed by Proximus (Kevin Durand) attack Noa's clan. Many apes are killed while most of the clan is captured and brought back to the Kingdom of Proximus to act as slaves aiding Proximus in retrieving a treasure trove of items that once belonged to man. In a twist on the original convention of the 1968 Planet of the Apes, Proximus is aware of how Apes and man once lived together. He's aware of the plague that nearly wiped-out humanity, leaving the survivors mute. Most importantly, via his relationship with a human being who can speak, played by William H. Macy, Proximus knows that there are weapons in the vault he's found, and he wants them.

Proximus needs forced labor to achieve his plan and that's why he directs his soldiers to attack Noa's clan. Noa meanwhile narrowly escapes with his life. After trying to save his father, Noa is nearly killed and left for dead. When he awakens, Noa goes looking for his clan in the hopes of rescuing them. Along the way, Noa meets Raka (Peter Macon), a wise and playful orangutang, who is also the keeper of ancient knowledge. Through Raka, Noa will learn about the history of the apes and the legend of Caesar, the ape who led Ape-kind as they rose to a place of dominance in the world.

It's also while learning from Raka that Noa learns he's being followed by a human. Nova (Freya Allen) is a scavenger whose been following Noa for some time now. Eventually, we will learn that Nova hopes to follow Noa to Proximus' kingdom and prevent Proximus from getting his hands on whatever is in that human vault. The two form an uneasy alliance, one tested throughout their journey, especially when Nova reveals that she can talk. Also, her name isn't Nova, it's Mae, and she knows exactly what is in Proximus' vault.

As a special effects extravaganza, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is completely awesome. The effects used to turn human actors into Apes has never been more believable and well realized. You will believe that apes can talk and fight and interact easily and seamlessly with human beings. It's truly remarkable to watch how far the special effects have come in just the last decade and a half since The Planet of the Apes franchise returned to theaters. Rise of the Planet of the Apes itself was a remarkable achievement and Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is even greater.

Dig deeper however, and Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes gets even better. The film is an anti-fascist, anti-imperialist tract hidden inside a special effects extravaganza. The message is very clear, a fascist dictator has risen to power and in his ignorant dedication to his own greatness, he plants the seeds of his own downfall. Freedom is too powerful for any fascist dictatorship and while that is a rather simple message, it's resonant today as some leaders currently hope to rise to power, silence their enemies, and rule with an iron first by making sure that their power is unquestionable.

Again, it's there if you want to see it and if you don't prefer to see it, you can still enjoy Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes. This is a special movie, a brilliant sci-fi action movie and a bold, thoughtful, and relevant polemic about why fascism and imperialism are bound to fail in the face of freedom. The film is just terrific from beginning to end with top notch effects and indelible characters. The plot is far more complex than I have let on as I am avoiding spoilers. Just know that the movie has bigger things on its mind that I haven't even mentioned as you need to see it for yourself, and I don't want to spoil any of it.

See this movie!

Find my archive of more than 20 years and more than 2000 movie reviews at SeanattheMovies.blogspot.com. Find my modern review archive on my Vocal Profile, linked here. Follow me on Twitter at PodcastSean. Follow the archive blog on Twitter at SeanattheMovies. Listen to me talk about movies on the I Hate Critics Movie Review Podcast. If you have enjoyed what you have read, consider subscribing to my writing on Vocal. If you'd like to support my writing, you can do so by making a monthly pledge or by leaving a one time tip. Thanks!

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About the Creator

Sean Patrick

Hello, my name is Sean Patrick He/Him, and I am a film critic and podcast host for the I Hate Critics Movie Review Podcast I am a voting member of the Critics Choice Association, the group behind the annual Critics Choice Awards.

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Comments (1)

  • angela hepworth26 days ago

    Iā€™m seeing this one soon! So excited šŸ˜†

Sean PatrickWritten by Sean Patrick

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