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Movie Review - 20th Century's Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes

No one can stop the reign.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is a 2024 science fiction action film directed by Wes Ball, written by Josh Friedman, produced by Oddball Entertainment and Jason T. Reed Productions, and distributed by 20th Century Studios. The film is loosely based off of Pierre Boulle's 1968 novel, Planet of the Apes. It stars Owen Teague and Freya Allan. This is the tenth installment in the Planet of the Apes franchise, being the fourth in the remake series. It was preceded by War for the Planet of the Apes.

"What a wonderful day!" - Proximus Caesar


Generations after Caesar's reign, the apes are the dominant species on Earth. When a young chimpanzee, Noa, comes across an intelligent human, he embarks on a journey that brings him face-to-face with the imposing ape king, Proximus Caesar.

The Sweet

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is my introduction to the Planet of the Apes franchise. I've wanted to see this most recent reboot trilogy, but I've just never gotten around to it, so I decided to start off my Planet of the Apes journey with this film.

And I think this movie serves as a pretty good introduction to the world. Yes, it is a sequel to War for the Planet of the Apes, but I don't think you need to see that film to really understand this one. This movie establishes itself as its own thing. The film really explores the main question of the story: what would happen if apes suddenly gained intelligence and humans began to lose it? I love it when movies live up to the promise of the premise, and Kingdom definitely does that.

The production design and visual effects here were stunning. It's always interesting to me when movies like The Flash cost $300 million and look like garbage while movies like this cost $150 million and look fantastic. The film shows us this broken Earth where human civilization is a skeleton being engulfed by the natural world. It's such a cool world to look at, and it's made even better by the pristine CGI and motion capture. You can tell that this film took some inspiration from Avatar, because the mo-cap is just perfect. I never once thought about how these monkeys were CGI, which is a good thing. They just looked real.

I was genuinely surprised at how deep this movie is. There are layers of character complexities and nuances that I did not expect in a movie about talking apes. Our protagonist, Noa, allies with Mae, the human girl that you see on the poster and in the trailer. The main antagonist is Proximus Caesar, the king of the apes. On the surface, these character dynamics are obvious, but when you look a little deeper, there's so much rich complexity that complicates their dynamics. Each of the characters has another selfish motivation that blurs the line between villain and hero. All three of these main characters are just incredibly interesting. I cannot wait to see where they go in the future.

And, piggybacking off of that, this movie is both a complete story and a set up for future projects. If there were no more Planet of the Apes movies, that would be okay. There's a clear beginning, middle, and end of this movie. But the point at which the characters leave off sets up awesome potential for future sequels. The relationship between Noa and Mae is incredibly interesting and I cannot wait to see it explored further. Wes Ball, the director, has said that this is the beginning of a new trilogy, and that makes me very excited for the possibilities of this story.

This is also a movie that gets better as it goes along. The first act of the film is a bit slow, but once you meet the character of Raka (who is also awesome, by the way), the movie picks up. And, once you reach the actual kingdom of the apes, the movie just gets better and better and better. Each character choice and story beat builds on top of itself to create an awesome, character-driven third act that really wraps everything up nicely.

As I said at the beginning of this section, I have not seen the other Planet of the Apes movies, but I do know the character of Caesar. Caesar is not in this movie, but his influence is felt throughout. This film has one of the best uses of a character who does not appear in the movie ever. I loved the way his philosophy was used as a motivation for both the heroes and the villains. That was super interesting. And it makes me even more interested to watch the remake trilogy.

I feel like Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is truly one of the best franchise films of the 2020s. Since Endgame, the film industry has been dominated by endless sequels and remakes, most of which are mediocre at best. There are a select few (Top Gun: Maverick, Spider-Man: No Way Home, Avatar: The Way of Water) that feel like the great, quality blockbusters of the 2010s. Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes feels like that. It's a piece in a larger puzzle, yes, but it remembers to have its own individual story and character arcs that make it a truly great film.

The Sour

The biggest thing that this movie suffers from is pacing. Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes starts off pretty slow. It takes about thirty minutes to get to the action, and once you do, it still feels a little bit generic. It follows the "hero's journey" template to a tee for the entire first act, and that just isn't anything unique. Again, once we meet Raka, the film gets drastically better, and the film becomes truly great when you get to the actual kingdom, but before that, it really drags. So just stick through the first 30 minutes of the film and you will get to the awesomeness of the final two hours.

As I just said, though, this movie is two and a half hours long. And it struggles with pacing issues. That points to an obvious fix: make this movie shorter. This movie could've been just as good, if not better, if the fat of the first act was cut out. The film just does not get going in the first part of the movie. We explore Noa's normal life for such a long time only for him to get kicked out of his normal life and embark upon the journey of the story. We just don't need 30-40 minutes of Noa doing stuff in his clan. It's so unnecessary.

Besides that, there's not really much in terms of negativity. Sure, there are a few things I could nitpick. There's some minor plot beats in the third act that don't quite add up to me. The true final battle between Noa and Proximus Caesar feels like it should have a gigantic emotional climax, but it doesn't hit as hard as I wanted it to. But those really don't detract from the film as a whole. This movie was frickin' awesome.

Final Thoughts and Score

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes was an incredible introduction to the franchise that had wonderfully complex characters, beautiful visuals, and an exciting story that I want to see more of.

I am going Sweet here. Age range is 11+.


Sweet (Great) Savory (Good)

Sour (Bad) Moldy (Terrible)

"Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes"

Fun Factor: 8.5/10

Acting: 8/10

Story: 8/10

Characters: 9.5/10

Quality: 8/10

Directed by Wes Ball

Rated PG-13 for sci-fi violence and action, language, disturbing themes and images, thematic elements

Released on May 10, 2024

2 hours and 25 minutes

Owen Teague as Noa

Freya Allan as Mae

Kevin Durand as Proximus Caesar

Peter Macon as Raka

William H. Macy as Trevathan

Lydia Peckham as Soona

Travis Jeffrey as Anaya

Neil Sandilands as Koro


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