Kingdom of The Planet of The Apes | Review by: Benjamin Garrett

 Apes. Together. Strong. Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is another strong addition to the iconic franchise, and a worthy follow-up to Caesar’s trilogy. While it doesn’t quite reach the level of Dawn or War, this new chapter offers a thrilling, emotionally driven story with great performances and groundbreaking visuals. 

Kingdom smartly differentiates itself by moving the timeline forward a few centuries. This allows Caesar’s story to be left untouched, while having his actions and beliefs still echo through the new world. It’s both a continuation and somewhat of a soft reset, which keeps it from feeling like it’s treading ground covered in the previous three films. It takes some time to establish new characters and lore, struggling just a bit with pacing in the first act. That was perfectly fine with me, though, because it does a wonderful job setting up the potential future of the franchise. 

I really liked the new characters, and while they aren’t quite as compelling as those in Ceasar’s trilogy (at least not yet), I was able to get invested pretty easily. Owen Teague had some big paw prints to fill, following Andy Serkis’ tremendous performance, but he nailed it. Whereas Ceasar was a natural leader, Noa is still finding his place within his tribe and the world. His failures and triumphs make him a relatable main character that never feels like a carbon copy of Ceasar. Kevin Durand’s Proximus Ceasar is a fascinating villain, mirroring mankind’s obsession with finding advancements in evolution. Freya Allen’s Mae is an interesting representation of humans’ best and worst qualities, but I do wish she’d been developed a tad more. The best new character is without a doubt Raka. His rich knowledge of apes’ history, compassionate disposition and humorous observations are brought to life through Macon’s excellent performance. 

I don’t know what kind of wizardry is happening behind the doors at Weta FX, because they’ve truly outdone themselves here. What they’ve achieved with this film is arguably the best visual effects work of all time. The attention to detail is astounding. Every hair perfectly rendered, every emotion conveyed with stunning facial animation, realistic movement captured flawlessly through motion capture, the seamless merging of practical elements with computer generated ones - This is the benchmark for how incredible blockbusters can (and often should) look. 

What a wonderful day to be a Planet of the Apes fan! Kingdom carries the franchise forward in exciting new ways, building a solid foundation for future instalments. With groundbreaking special effects, strong performances and a thrilling new adventure, this represents everything a modern blockbuster should be. 


Review by: Benjamin Garrett

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