Movie Review: Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes: New characters, a new world, and we’re here for it! 

By: Ica Hontiveros-Cheng

Noa (played by Owen Teague) in 20th Century Studios’ KINGDOM OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2024 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

Don’t worry, if you’ve forgotten what happened in the past ‘Planet of the Apes’ films, ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ can be a stand alone film. Of course, it’s more enjoyable if you’ve seen them all (and remember them) as there are callbacks to the last films. It’s also nice to point at a scene or at a prop and recognize it as a nod to the earlier films. 

‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ opens with the death of Caesar-whose story we have followed in the last few ‘Apes’ films, and setting the story some 300 years after his death.. Different clans of apes have settled, humans are filthy scavengers and Caesar’s teachings and ideologies have become almost like a religion. Then there is of course, how these words are understood and practiced. Or in one case, twisted to serve their own purpose, but we’ll get to that later. 

I love how they established and created this unique clan of apes with their own culture and practices (Eagle Clan for the win!) This is carefully laid out during the first part of the film, and comes back by the end, which according to my mentor is an example of ‘very good writing’ and I would have to agree on that. 

And I even had a thought that the world would be better if peaceful apes ruled instead of humans who cause war and pollution.

(Center): Freya Allan as Nova in 20th Century Studios’ KINGDOM OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2024 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

We are introduced to Noa (Owen Teague) a young ape, who is a member of the Eagle Clan, these clan of apes raise eagles, who they train to hunt for fish and other cool tricks. When the film opens, Noa, along with his childhood friends (is there an ape counterpart for childhood?) Anaya (Travis Jeffrey) and Soona (Lydia Peckham) who together are about to undergo a coming of age ceremony, bond with an eagle egg. But whatever plans for a ceremony are thrown out the window with the arrival of masked apes who turn everything that Noa knows upside down.

Now Noa builds an unusual allince with a human (echo) they named Nova played by Freya Allan (in case she looks familiar, its Cirilla of Cintra from ‘The Witcher’ series), and a good natured orangutan Raka who teaches Noa all about the great Caesar.

Proximus Caesar (played by Kevin Durand) in 20th Century Studios’ KINGDOM OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2023 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

The film’s big baddie is Proximus Caesar played by Kevin Durand, whom we last saw in the horror film Abigail, he has taken the original Caesar’s words and twisted them for his own purpose.

The CGI and effects are seamless and beautiful, you would think that these are actual apes on screen, and not talented and dedicated actors doing motion capture. And because Paul is such a big Andy Serkis fan, he has a bit of a bias when it comes to ‘Lord of the Rings’ I have to mention that the Andy Serkis served as a special consultant in the film, as well as previous Apes (the previous Planet of the Apes films: Rise of the Planet of the Apes, War for the Planet of the Apes, and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) director Matt Reeves. Which is probabbly why you could almost see and feel the seamless continuity from the previous trilogy of Apes films to this new one.

The first part of the film was a bit slow, but important in establishing the new dynamics of the world and introducing us to new characters. After that though, it is an emotional and gripping ride to the end, with a strong second act and an epic third one. I was also very stressed and emotional (rightfully so) in some of the scenes. In some ways, it is also a coming of age story in a very unsual setting. Noa first starts of as an unsure youth, who lives behind the shadow of his father, but by the end of the film, he comes to embrace who he really is and uses this to protect his family and clan. By the end the film teases that there is more to come. And I’m here for all of it.