Reel Reviews | Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes

by Charles Kirkland, Jr.

The planet of the apes is very different now that Caesar is gone.  Many generations later can his legacy survive the Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes?

Young Noa is about to celebrate a ritual rite of passage in his eagle clan of apes where he is bonded to his eagle. On the night before the ceremony, the camp of Noa’s clan is raided by King Proximus and enslaved, leaving Noa alone.  Determined to rescue his clan and get revenge upon Proximus, Noa sets off on a reckless and dangerous journey.  He is joined on his trek by a knowledgeable orangutan named Raka and a doting human girl. Along the way, they learn what the true legacy of Caesar is and that things aren’t all what they seem to be.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is written by Josh Friedman based upon characters created by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver.  The movie features the voice talents of Kevin Durand, Owen Teague, Dicen Lachman, and Peter Macon.  William H. Macy and Freya Allan provide the only featured human talent in the film.  Wes Ball (The Maze Runner series) directs this fourth installment in the Planet of the Apes reboot.

Planet of the Apes first launched on April 3, 1968.  The original series contained five sequels bringing the total number of films to six. That series also launched a short-lived television series in the mid-1970s.  With this being the fourth installment, it seems that this studio may be set on equaling the number of films in this reboot series to the original series. This may be the only rationale for making this film.

At first blush, Kingdom presents itself as a sweeping epic, coming-of-age quest movie.  Director Wes Ball, who had plenty of experience in creating lost world landscapes in The Maze Runner does the same thing with this movie.  The landscapes are sweeping and the environments are lush with the appropriate amount of old world being shown as grown over by nature.  This is a very good-looking movie to watch.

Unfortunately, the plot of the movie is a mess.  It does not make sense that the protagonist Noa decides that he can take on a whole army which he already fought and lost by himself.  The involvement of the main human, Mea played by Allan, makes absolutely no sense.  The introduction of Raka the orangutan, the one ape who has true knowledge of Caesar, and the direction they give him in the movie makes no sense.

Much like the apes in the movie forgetting the legacy of Caesar, this film seems to have lost the foundation of the movies that came before it.  The film hurries through itself to set up the conditions for the next sequel without giving this film its proper due.  Sad to say because with a run time of 145 minutes, one would think that they would take the proper time to flesh out a cohesive and interesting story.

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is a sweeping epic that swept the story under the rug.  It’s action-packing but the plot lacking. 

Grade:  C-