Newest Apes film earns its Kingdom 

Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures 

It is hard to name a movie trilogy as perfect as the Planet of the Apes prequels starring Andy Serkis as ape-savior Caesar amidst a series of clumsy titles–seriously…why on earth does Rise of come before Dawn of? 

Despite the trilogy’s conclusive ending, it was always inevitable that the mostly-lucrative Apes series would continue into a tenth entry as long as there was money to be made. 

I was happy to learn that Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes–awkward titles are just inherent to the series–wasn’t just another reboot. The Serkis trilogy was always going to be a tough act to follow and, despite the odds, they pulled it off. Kingdom is great. 

Set several generations after Caesar’s story wraps up–and no, you don’t really need to be familiar with this story nor any or the other previous movies in the series to understand what’s going on–Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes focuses on a new damn dirty ape named Noa who clashes with the titular Kingdom and learns about those damn dirty humans who preceded them. 

The CGI is excellent in its inconspicuousness. Just a few minutes in I forgot that I was watching what was essentially a sophisticated cartoon–barring an actual human or two–and not actual apes that learned how to talk. 

This speaks to the ability of the actors who are sometimes a bit hard to understand when they communicate in their halting ape-like cadence. 

But as long as I was paying complete attention to what was going on I didn’t have much of a problem. 

This is partly because Kingdom has a fairly straightforward story with a clear goal, but it isn’t the kind of story that spells everything out for the audience either. 

There is a conflict between Noa and Mae, our main human hero, that I didn’t really understand until I thought about it afterwards, but maybe I’m just dumb and don’t understand what might be obvious to other people. The ending in particular was a bit confusing to me in its implications, but again, I figured it out eventually. 

Honestly, I prefer it that way; there’s nothing worse than a movie that feels the need to over-explain to its audience. 

Somehow Kingdom feels much shorter than its two-and-a-half hour runtime, a fact that speaks to solid directing and editing. The first half is a bit more interesting than the second, but it never gets boring, nor do things ever really slow down. 

It’s a pretty film that never fails to showcase the haunting beauty of nature retaking the land that sits beneath the infrastructure of our modern age. 

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes not only meets the bar set by previous films but might also arguably raise it. Humanity’s future may be uncertain, but for the apes, it is looking pretty good. 

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is now playing in theaters. 

Article written by TJ Reid

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