Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is a terrific summer blockbuster


Victoria Luxford

Victoria is City A.M.’s film editor and a regular on both TV and radio discussing the latest movie releases

The new Planet of the Apes instalment is a worthwhile summer blockbuster (20th Century Studios)

Awkward titles, but great movies. Few reboots have got it as right as the 2010s Planet of The Apes trilogy. Rise of The Planet of The Apes (2011) introduced Andy Serkis’ Caesar, and through two sequels (2014’s Dawn… and 2017’s War…), we saw an action-packed journey that told a compelling story. Now, director Wes Ball (The Maze Runner trilogy) looks to continue that legacy. Kingdom of The Planet of The Apes is set 300 years after Caesar’s death in the last film. (In total there are now 10 movies in the franchise.)

Apes are dominant, while humans are scattered and considered feral. Young ape Noa’s (Owen Teague) peaceful life is disrupted when his tribe are abducted by Proximus Caesar (Kevin Durand), a brutish ape king with a twisted idea of Caesar’s legacy. Noa travels with an elder chimpanzee named Raya (Peter Macon) and a mysterious human name Mae (Freya Allen), both of whom challenge everything he thinks he knows as he journeys to rescue his family.

The thing that the Apes movies really nail is the way they can be enjoyed on several levels. There’s enough lore for you to connect the dots between films, but if you haven’t seen the Serkis movies this can be enjoyed as a straightforward action adventure. None of the exposition is hard to grasp, thanks mostly to Raka, and later human historian Threvathan (William H Macy) who fill in the gaps. The effects are beyond what even the first trilogy – which was no slouch – was capable of, taking motion capture performance to new heights. It’s tough to step into Serkis’ shoes, but Teague delivers a fine performance as a young ape becoming a leader. He shows what’s possible with the combination of technology and human performance.

If Kingdom doesn’t quite match the previous films, it’s only because they were magnificent. This new chapter is a terrific summer blockbuster, offering enough entertainment to suit casual crowds while also dropping enough information for those following the bigger picture. Few fourth instalments have felt this fresh.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is in cinemas

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