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Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes doesn’t add anything new, urgent or compelling to the franchise, with characters that lack nuance, stale themes and underwhelming, mostly thrill-free action sequences.

How much more is there still left to say about apes and humans after nine feature movies in the Planet of the Apes franchise? Precious little if you go by the most recent film.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes picks up several generations after the events of War for the Planet of the Apes, when the ideals of ape leader Ceasar have mostly been forgotten and new protagonist Noa goes on a quest to save his remaining tribe members from the brutal gorilla king that enslaved them.

This plot summary alone indicates clearly how formulaic Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is. Not only does the movie dutifully tick every single cliché box you’d expect with this type of tale, director Wes Ball fails to add visual flair or thematic heft beyond easily digestible blockbuster fare.

Not helping the movie’s cause either is the lethargic pace at which the narrative unfolds. At least half an hour (perhaps even 45 minutes) could easily have been culled from the picture’s indulgent 150-minute runtime, which feels even longer because characters take a Cliff’s Notes approach to emotional evolution and a compelling overarching theme is nowhere to be found.

If there is one thing Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes does succeed at, it’s augmenting your appreciation for the deft mix between spectacle, theme and character that the previous trilogy offered. It succeeds at little else though.

release: 2024

director: Wes Ball

starring: Owen Teague, Freya Allan, Kevin Durand, William H. Macy


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