Apes Together Strong: Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes (2024) - Reviewed

Images courtesy 20th Century Fox


Director Wes Ball picks up where Matt Reeves left off with the rebooted Planet of the Apes series. 

Releasing to cinemas seven years after the last entry in the saga and many generations after Caesar's journey, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is a reminder of how well those previous three films still hold up and are an absolutely amazing representation of photorealism through the use of computer generated imagery. If anything can be said about this return to a future Earth where apes rule the kingdom, it's that these movies are a visual spectacle. 

The story this time around is not as fleshed out and leaves much to be desired. With writers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver both returning to this project, the film is too safe, relying heavily on our familiarity with the trilogy, not doing much new with it but instead treading many of the same plot points and character arcs. Our new antagonist Noa is a near spitting image of Caesar, taking up his moral stance and continuing his legacy in many ways, but without the dramatic oomph.  

This is a direct continuation that furthers Caesar's arc as he is mentioned dozens of times by multiple characters. Unfortunately, the plot here is ultra thin and fails to captivate with some lackluster writing and repetitious tropes that have carried over from the aforementioned trilogy, but without the same level of intrigue. This new chapter is another tale of a struggle for dominance. Kingdom sees a new ape king taking power and establishing rule over packs of loyal followers. Many of the story elements are extremely familiar, but ultimately don't take away anything from the last entries.  Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is another example of dwindling returns, but still an entertaining fourth film that just doesn't pack the same punch as its predecessors.

At the core, this fourth film in the series doesn't have the heart or soul needed to carry on and uses a very limited plot device to carry the entire film. What's behind the big iron door is the central point of the film as new ruler Promixus Caesar lusts for tyrannical power over his loyalists and slaves. Sadly enough, the tale of our protagonist Noa isn't nearly as detailed or sympathetic as the one we got from Caesar's trilogy. Much needed details are left wide open and the character elements are quite obviously truncated for the sake of run time. It feels that there was a haphazard and strong willed executive decision making process on this film that kept the length to a minimum at the cost of what could have made this another one of the greats in this series. 

The visuals are absolutely amazing (of course), the score is phenomenal and the action sequences are spectacular. But when you have William H. Macy as one of the only human characters and you don't use him to full effect, you know your ape movie has a problem. It's not that this is a terrible movie, but it's just not up to the level we expect from this franchise considering the quality of the last three, especially after that grand finale in 2017's War for the Planet of the Apes. It will be interesting to see where they go with this after their obvious set-up for the next sequel.