Film of the Week: Kingdom Of The Planet Of The Apes “a bit long-winded”, says Jamie Skinner

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes

Cert – 12, running time – 2 hours 26 minutes, director – Wes Ball

After his village is destroyed, chimpanzee Noa (Owen Teague) sets out to free his tribe from a monkey (Kevin Durande) who is trying to unravel a secret that could increase his power.

When Disney bought 20th Century Fox, one of the first things they did was create new installments of some of the studio’s biggest franchises. When it comes to the modern Planet Of The Apes series, it has done the right thing by continuing things from the days of Andy Serkis’ Caesar. Now in the 24th century, the plantation covers rusted metal beams of former skyscrapers and airports, almost all of the backdrops being natural land.

The landscape once again transitions seamlessly into the motion capture monkey performances and the live-action human characters, now largely silent and living in tribes of minimal numbers. This really is the planet of the apes now, with the animals living in their own communities and having full spoken conversations without any sort of uncanny valley.

Each tribe has its own ways, and Noa (Owen Teague) prepares for a ceremony that will see him move on to the next phase of his life – while the introduction to his world and the film that brings its elements together takes some time. and yet it still doesn’t fully explain what the ceremony means. However, the night before, his village is attacked by a group of weapon-wielding monkeys, who leave him presumed dead and kidnap his friends and family.

By the time Noa finally reaches the place where everyone is being held and we meet the film’s main villain – after encountering other faces such as Peter Macon’s very sympathetic orangutan Raka, who claims that Caesar’s words have been forgotten and damn – we’re about half way through the term. While generally engaging, set amid a familiar story that might stand out more given the world things are set in, certain scenes feel like they could be lifted with just a little more context, especially when it comes to moments of conflict.

With the references to Caesar and the way the film looks at the changing relationship between man and ape, Kingdom feels like it’s a bridge of sorts between the previous three installments and a new chapter in the franchise. This is especially true when focusing on main villain Proximus (Kevin Durand), whose minimal screen time means he works thematically, but not always as a threat, attempting to open a mysterious safe whose contents he believes could let him help control the current planet. of the monkeys. While you don’t build up to more in the final stages, you certainly open yourself up to a wider world of potential interest, further exploring the film’s best ideas and themes.

Things may seem a bit drawn out and familiar in this bridge chapter, creating a familiar storyline among the building blocks for the future, but the consistently fantastic visuals help bring the changed world to life, strengthening the central characters and their story is pushed within the boundaries. world.

Three stars, Jamie Skinner