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Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes – A Rollercoaster of Highs and Lows

By Edward Saenz

The movie kicks off over 300 years after the last movie. This jarring leap in time from the previous films disrupts the continuity of the franchise, causing certain plot points to feel disjointed and unresolved, some even outright impossible. 

The sudden shift in timeline raises more questions than answers, leaving audiences puzzled and disconnected from the overarching narrative.

Alongside the timespan issues, the movie suffers from a very bland and overused formulaic plot. Strikingly similar to the third movie in the franchise, “War for the Planet of the Apes” this movie starts with a conflict that sets into motion the main character, an ape named Noa (voiced by Owen Teague), going on a quest while picking up companions, a comic relief ape and mute blonde girl, along the way. Sound familiar?

Ultimately ending the conflict by fighting the evil boss at the end of the movie, an ape named Proximous Caesar (voiced by Kevin Durand). 

Which leads into the third main issue with the film, the antagonist, while menacing in appearance, lacks depth and complexity beyond being evil and wanting “his vault.”

 He gets very few lines, which is a shame because Durand kills it with what he is given. Somehow being able to bring life and fear into a character that gets maybe 15 minutes of on screen action.  

With limited screen time and little development, Proximous falls flat, failing to leave a lasting impression or pose a significant threat to Noa’s journey. 

I expected more from a franchise that has a history of being able to make genuinely good antagonists and conflict. The second film in the franchise, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” nailed this incredibly well. 

Lastly we come to the conclusion of the film, the big climax at the end. “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” leaves much to be desired on this front, with loose ends and unresolved conflicts marring an otherwise okay narrative. And don’t get me started on how various man-made electronics are able to just turn on after 300 years….

The vague plot twist feels rushed and incongruent with the rest of the film, leaving viewers with a sense of dissatisfaction and confusion. 

The movie wasn’t all bad though and had two main factors that saved it. 

The visuals and detail on the apes was beyond outstanding. Proving Weta Digital are still the kings of VFX. The voice acting and dialogue were incredible, Teague and Durand absolutely carried the film in this aspect.

The film also had what I would call a “delightful nod to the franchise’s roots”, the unexpected cameo of an orangutan brings a nostalgic charm to the film. It serves as a poignant reminder of past adventures while adding a touch of whimsy to the overarching narrative. 

Altogether, “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” is a cinematic rollercoaster ride filled with highs and lows. While its breathtaking visuals and standout performances are commendable, the film is hindered by a lackluster and generic plot, underdeveloped characters, and narrative inconsistencies. 

Despite its flaws, the film offers moments of genuine entertainment and nostalgia, making it a worthwhile watch for fans of the franchise. I give it a 7.5/10.