Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes REVIEW – Not Royal Enough

Not quite as daring as we hoped.

Kingdom of the Planets of the Apes
Kingdom of the Planets of the Apes

There’s nothing quite like a good action blockbuster, and the Planet of the Apes reboot trilogy has been some of the most lauded films of that kind in recent memory. Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes serves as a standalone sequel to that trilogy and the first entry of its own trilogy as well. Unfortunately, this new beginning isn’t quite as enthralling or well-structured as one would hope, but there are enough good elements here to make it worth the watch, as well as invoke excitement for the upcoming sequels.

Set multiple years after 2017’s War for the Planet of the Apes, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes follows an intelligent ape named Noa (Owen Teague) who goes on a quest to save his family after his home gets burned down and his clan gets taken. Along the way, he meets an orangutan named Raka (Peter Macon) and a human woman (Freya Allan), who ends up being smarter and more important than either ape originally thought.

Most people interested in watching this film are, quite likely, looking forward to its visuals, and in that regard, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes satisfies greatly. This movie is an absolute treat for the eyes with its fun camera work, beautiful cinematography, and impressive CG animation, all made evident from the first scene alone of Noa and his friends swinging through the forest and climbing trees in search of eagle eggs.

Sadly, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’s characters feel two-dimensional, and scenes that should’ve been impactful end up just being there and not having any sentimental effect on you. The apes may look real, but their relationships feel underdeveloped and their motivations are not deeply defined. The characters end up being nothing more than what the screenplay requires them to be, so they feel less like fleshed-out characters and more like enablers for the plot.

The movie’s narrative isn’t nearly as strong as its visuals, and at two and a half hours, its pacing is too uneven to be gripping and entertaining throughout. There are moments that feel like they should’ve been shortened or reworked, and even the exciting scenes end up feeling a little bitter to watch.

While they’re definitely fun, they aren’t exactly edge-of-your-seat thrilling, and the screenplay often feels like it’s doing only a few levels above the bare minimum needed to keep audience members watching. Thankfully, things do pick up by the third act, which is definitely the film at its tightest and most interesting. The movie’s final act evens out the unbalanced first and second acts, which were either too slow or not exciting enough.

All that said, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes ultimately still boasts scenes where its story and its world come to life, even if they do happen rather sporadically, at least, until its ending. The film may be a shaky start to a new trilogy, but it does have enough substance to warrant a watch and to keep fans keen on seeing where this new narrative plans to go.

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Kingdom of the Planets of the Apes
While Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes struggles to keep us fully entertained throughout its runtime, it’s still a visual pleasure and contains enough intriguing elements to hook us for what’s to come next.