#Film Review: Kingdom of the Planet of Apes

Director: Wes Ball

Rating: 4/5

Kingdom of the Planet of Apes is a standalone sequel to 2017’s War for the Planet of the Apes directed by Wes Ball, the creator of the Maze Runner film series (which I loved!).

The film takes place 300 years after the war. Humans have lost intelligence and the ability to speak which was transferred to apes owning to the virus humans invented by humans that infected them and changed the world as they knew forever.

The story is set many generations after the death of Ceasar the leader of apes who was originally brought up by humans before the virus and the centre of the story is Noa (Owen Teague), a young ape from the tribe that nurtures and trains eagles. The coming-of-age ritual for Noa is hunting eagle eggs and whilst he proudly brings eggs to his father, the master, to the great pride of his mother, the same night an attack on their village happens by raider apes led by a gorilla named Sylva (Eka Darville).

Noa survives the fall after fighting Sylva and goes to find his tribe and revenge for the death of his father and save his tribe. On the journey, he meets Raka (Peter Macon), an orangutan faithful to the true teachings of Ceasar, unlike the raider tribe that hails Ceasar but does not follow his true philosophy. Raka collects and preserves books and teaches Noa about peaceful coexistence with humans, and they take a human girl under their wing and support her. They name her Nova (Freya Allan) in line with Ceasar’s teaching of naming humans Nova whilst Noa’s tribe calls them echoes.

The human girl saved by Noa and Raka can speak and says her name is Mae and that she has learnt from her mother to be silent and not disclose her ability to speak. She then leads Noa to find his tribe held by the ape monarch named Proximus Caesar (Kevin Durand) who is obsessed with the sealed vault and uses Noa’s tribe he captured to try to open the doors saying apes are expendable. He believes the vault contains human tech and thus he uses slavery to force apes to work towards opening the vault. This is where Nova and Noa work together but ultimately Nova risks Noa and his tribe to save human tech saying it belongs to humans and Noa concludes humans cannot be trusted. There is also an epic fight between Proximus and Noa deciding whether Noa’s tribe gets to be free or not …

The film has some interesting messages that intrigued me such as the notion that humans cannot be trusted. When it comes to humans and animals, I would normally say amen to that but in this case, I was not so sure. I did not perceive Nova/Mae as necessarily negative, just loyal to her own kind in a time of danger and prospective extinction. I think everyone would react similarly but then again, it does make you think particularly if you know, as I do, to what extent humans exploit the planet and see themselves as the first right holders to the planet and its resources. In addition to that, an interesting thing was that humans created a virus that brought them to the brink of extinction, which is a bit of a biblical story and very interesting. So, there is some food for thought here and the film makes you think about human-animal relations and the way we treat the planet, loyalties, etc.

On the negative side, the film could have had more stories and be faster. The epic fight should have been longer, and the film felt as if it was rushed towards the end so too much happened, too quickly and too soon whilst most of the film portrays Noa’s journey. Raka also does not disclose enough from Ceasar’s philosophy or books and the knowledge they contain, which was introduced in a very interesting way but then left underexplored.

But overall, the film was good and worth watching. It is quite clear that there will be a new film in the series so I hope we will hear more and that there will be more depth to the story.  

Thank you for reading!

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