Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes review – thrilling addition to the series

With this muscular instalment of the consistently impressive rebooted Apes franchise, director Wes Ball, previously best known for the propulsive but somewhat generic YA dystopian Maze Runner series, graduates, with honours, to the big league of Hollywood helmers. This is a top-quality summer blockbuster, bringing fresh blood and new ideas into the series while staying recognisably within the worlds so meticulously created in the previous three movies.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is set many generations in the future, long after the events of War for the Planet of the Apes and the conclusion of the story of Caesar, who is now regarded as a Moses-like legendary figure. But the thing about legends is that they get appropriated and twisted to fit the current narrative. Wise old orangutan scholar Raka (Peter Macon) follows the word of Caesar to the letter; Proximus (Kevin Durand) cherrypicks the primate unity theme but disregards the bit about ape not killing ape. And youngster Noa (Owen Teague), son of the leader of a chimp clan that trains and hunts with eagles, hasn’t even heard of Caesar.

It’s Noa that we follow, after his father is murdered and his clan enslaved. He joins forces with a young human, Mae (Freya Allan), who, unlike most of her species (now grunting, grubby, non-verbal scavengers), can speak, reason and plot against the ape oppressors. The picture looks phenomenal, with nature aggressively reclaiming abandoned human spaces – tower blocks jutting like broken teeth, the decaying carcass of a container ship. But most impressive are the motion capture performances, which are among the finest I have seen. It’s a thrilling addition to a franchise that swings from strength to strength.

The Guardian

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