May 29, 2024

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Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes review: A new threat, a new hero rises – Beyond Bollywood

4 min read

Director Wes Ball, writer Josh Friedman give a refreshing reboot to the Planet of the Apes reboot franchise.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4 / 5)

By Mayur Lookhar

While the original concept may have drawn inspiration from French author Pierre Boulle’s La Planète des singes, the Planet of the Apes franchise has undeniably been imbued with an American essence since its first film adaptation in 1968.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes [2024] marks the fourth installment in the franchise reboot and the tenth overall. Wes Ball, director of The Maze Runner franchise, and Josh Freidman, writer for Avatar: The Way of Water [2022], have teamed up. Expect running and water to be significant components in their maiden collaboration. And it’s a maiden step into Planet of the Apes reboot franchise.

A standalone sequel to War for the Planet of the Apes [2017], the Wes Ball-directed film is set in a period long after Caesar’s demise, where apes have splintered into numerous clans. (Caesar was the chief ape protagonist in the last few films). Noa [Owen Teague] is the son of the chief of an eagle-oriented clan of chimpanzees. He’s a skilled hunter, unafraid to risk his life scaling the tallest trees and mountains to retrieve eagle eggs. The clan raises these eagles, thereby forming a special bond with the raptors.

300 years after Caesar’s passing, a new narrative unfolds, introducing fresh characters while maintaining the age-old conflict: the battle for survival. Proximus [Kevin Durand], a formidable bonobo from a coastal clan, has resorted to enslaving fellow apes. He harbors a deep disdain for humans yet craves their technology to expand his dominion in the Planet of the Apes. Despite the apes’ acquired ability to speak due to the man-made Simian virus, they still require human assistance to access advanced technology. Nova, later revealed as Mae [Freya Allan], holds the key to unlocking these technological secrets hidden within the walls of a human bunker. However, the few surviving humans within have fallen silent.

Kevin Durand as Proximus

Before delving into the protagonists, it’s the menacing bonobo, Proximus, who captivates our attention. Evolution often entails a phase of violence, and this talking bonobo embodies it with unparalleled arrogance. He firmly believes that his destiny awaits behind the towering walls of the bunker. This obsession has consumed him, driving him to madness. Distorting the teachings of the true Caesar, he manipulates his fellow apes while enslaving others. Kevin Durand’s commanding baritone and Proximus’s imposing stature evoke fear in all who encounter him.

Owen Teague as Noa

Wes Ball’s protagonist Noa earns our admiration for his resilience. He’s soft-spoken and dutifully obeys his father, Chief Koru. Raised in a sheltered environment, he adheres closely to the established codes of his clan. Like any young ape of his age, he is in the midst of discovering the world around him. He shares a great camaraderie with his childhood friends Anaya [Travis Jeffery] and Soona [Lydia Peckham] and is very protective about them. As the clan falls, Noa embarks on a coming of age journey, hoping to save the remaining members of his clan.

Along the way, he befriends Raka, who assists him in dispelling myths about humans and sheds light on the true legacy of Caesar. Owen Teague seizes this opportunity with the same determination as Noa scaling the tallest cliff or tree.

Peter Macon as Raka

Peter Macon shines as the endearing gibbon Raka, showcasing not only wisdom but also a delightful sense of humor. Throughout, he assumed Nova was mute, but when she speaks, Raka is completely gobsmacked. The stunned expression on the gibbon’s face is truly priceless. There is also a subtle hint towards queer affection, as Raka refers to his lost companion as ‘my village’.

Freya Allan

Young Freya Allan delivers a compelling performance, conveying a wealth of emotion despite having few lines.

Wes Ball is blessed with a talented cast. The film excels with its superb writing, gripping screenplay, intense drama, skilled cast, and top-notch special effects (motion capture technology). In a franchise where humans are scarce on screen but apes are abundant, emotional engagement is paramount. Here, the emotional connection is so profound that viewers forget they are watching apes. As always, such stories serve as allegories for human greed and exploitation. With each Planet of the Apes film, audiences are reminded to consider the consequences if the roles were reversed.

After three films, the fear of franchise fatigue often looms, but Wes Ball’s film has brought forth a new dawn, potentially igniting hopes for a sequel.

Kingdom Planet of the Apes [2024] is set to be released in theatres in India on 10 May.

Watch the video review below.

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