'Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes' Movie Review: A Worthy Successor

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes movie review 

The PLANET OF THE APES prequels were a rare instance, in which all the films in the trilogy were excellent. KINGDOM OF THE PLANET OF THE APES director West Ball had a big task ahead of him. The MAZE RUNNER filmmaker found a way to shake up the mythology and steer it in a unique direction for the next installments.

Set 200 years after the events of the last film (WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES), the apes rule the land. Mute humans hide out in the woods like wild animals. The foliage has engulfed the skeletons of skyscrapers and other man-made structures that serve as the primates’ playgrounds.

Exclusive: 'Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes' Edit Bay Visit with Director Wes Ball

The legacy of Caesar still lives on as a Christ-like figure who liberated them from their oppressors. However, his legacy is perverted by Proximus Caesar, the villain who sees himself as a successor to Caesar and therefore the king of the land.

Ball and screenwriter Josh Friedman made some smart choices. They avoided creating a character like Caesar, instead keeping the spirit of his character alive through his legacy. The main chimpanzee Noah, played by Owen Teague, is very different from Caesar. He is a very naïve young chimp who is forced to mature when his family is kidnapped. In his journey to free his tribe, he learns of Caesar and the history between man and humans. While Noah lacks the charisma of Andy Serkis’ Cesar, he is equally engaging and riveting in a different way.

Stand-up performances come from Peter Macon as Raka, a wise orangutan who teaches Noah about Caesar’s history, and Kevin Durand as the villain, Proximus Caesar.

The Raka character serves as a successor to Maurice, Caesar's close friend and ally throughout the prior movies. Raka is an instant favorite and the most charismatic character of this reboot, thanks to Peter Macon’s voice talents.

Durand’s commanding voice brings a terrifying tone to Proximus Caesar. The self-proclaimed king seeks power but this gorilla shows some compassion to his kind until they cross him. Durand delivers a King Kong-like physicality to the character. The actor embraced his wild side through his motion capture suit.

Ball's post-apocalyptic world is a gorgeous one. Mother Nature has reclaimed the land and man-made atrocities have been engulfed by the earth. It is not the usual wasteland we are used to seeing in this sort of film.

Once again, the motion capture technology is excellent, thanks to Wētā FX. The flawless visual effects are mesmerizing.

The twists in the movie are a surprise. It’s not telegraphed although there’s some major hints. A recent clip revealed one of the twists which is a shame since discovering the secret in a movie theater is much more fun.

Kingdom of the planet of the apes is riveting from start to finish. at two hours and 26 minutes, the events move at a quick pace, and and the plot twists are unexpected and original. The ending reveals exactly where the next installments are going and and that direction is an exciting possibility.

Fans of the prior trilogy will not be disappointed. You don’t have to be familiar with the prequel trilogy since this film is self-contained in that Caesar’s legacy is recounted.

KINGDOM OF THE PLANET OF THE APES swings into a movie theaters on Friday, May 10.

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