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Monday, June 24, 2024

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J.C. Reviews: Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes…Is Fine. Just Fine.


by James Coulter

Confession time: I have not watched any of the previous Planet of the Apes movies. Fortunately, I didn’t need to, even if I did manage to watch a plot recap of the first three films on YouTube. Turns out this movie is set hundreds of years after the last film.

So, even if it’s a part of a long-running franchise, this movie’s essentially a new story. Question is: Does it hold up? Or do these apes still have more evolving to do before they reach evolutionary perfection?

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, as previously mentioned, takes place years after a man-made virus wiped out most of humanity and left the remaining humans dumb and witless like animals. Apes have since become the dominant species and started building their own society within the ruins of human civilization.

Among the scattered factions of sentient apes lives a young ape named Noa. His village gets raided by a more aggressive tribe of gorillas and bonobos led by Proximus Caesar, who is searching for a human woman, Nova, who allegedly holds the secret of opening a mysterious vault. Noa befriends the woman, and the two of them team up to thwart the manic monkey monarch’s malicious machinations. Will they succeed in doing so? Or can the two even trust each other?

Credit where it’s due, this movie is a visual marvel. The movie’s post-apocalyptic setting looks equally awe-inspiring and harrowing. With most man-made buildings having fallen into ruin and become overtaken by plant life, it all truly looks and feels like a world where mankind has all but been killed off and nature has reclaimed what man has taken.

The ape characters also look rather impressive. Unlike the original 1960s films or even the Tim Burton remake, where human actors are evidently wearing ape costumes, these motion capture-created characters truly look, move, and act like actual simians. They even talk like apes with awkward pauses and grunts rather than with clear human articulation.

Unfortunately, as fascinating as the movie looks, the visuals are simply a fresh coat of paint on an old story—and the story does feel tired and trite!

Stop me if you heard this before: a young protagonist is minding his own business, living in his happy home village when a band of evil raiders attacks and kills and kidnaps everyone he loves.

I don’t need to say any more for you to figure out how the rest of the story goes.

The young protagonist ventures out on his own to avenge his family and village, meets an old and wise mentor to assist him on his journey, they come across a trickster character who may or may not betray them later, and it all culminates with the main character fighting the main villain and—yadda yadda yadda, it’s all be played out before!

Having not seen the other movies, I can’t judge how well this movie stands out among the rest of the franchise. The most I can say is that it works somewhat well as a standalone movie, and I didn’t need to know too much about the previous films to know what was going on.

Overall, while the visuals were spectacular, in the end, the movie (to me, at least) was nothing more than style over substance. New visuals simply painted a fresh coat on an old story, and while it proved entertaining enough, it didn’t offer anything new to the table.

If you’re a fan of the Planet of the Apes franchise, I’m sure you’ll find some enjoyment out of it. And even if you haven’t seen any of the other movies, it’s decent enough as its own. At most, a good popcorn flick to pass an afternoon with nothing else to do.

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