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Kingdom Of The Planet Of The Apes

Farhad Dalal
Farhad Dalal
3.5 Star popcorn reviewss


The unofficial ‘Monkeyverse’ has been crazy since the past month with films like Monkey Man, Godzilla × Kong and now Kingdom Of The Planet Of The Apes releasing(as stated on letterboxd by my friend Hafix). And I was quite keen on watching the latter given that the previous films of the franchise had clicked bigtime for me! The conflict of man versus the apes was an interesting one given that both sides had equal stakes in the drama. The dominant humans versus the once silent apes, only for retaliation to follow could easily be equated with the capitalist setup that is privy in the world today. With the power tussle being heavily tilted in favour of the ones at the top, the trickling returns of the down-trodden is never enough, a conflict that was well established in the previous films of this franchise. But a searing doubt encircled my thoughts on whether this project, like Godzilla × Kong is a cash cow in itself, given that the film was set in a completely different timeline from the past films. So with a slightly nervous energy, I ventured into a theatre to watch Kingdom Of The Planet Of The Apes. Does it manage to impress, let’s find out.

Story & Screenplay

Set several years after Caesar’s death, Kingdom Of The Planet Of The Apes follows the story of Noa, a young ape who must venture on a harrowing journey to save his clan from the members of a rogue clan working for Proximus Caesar, who leads a twisted version of Caesar’s teachings. The story here is simplistic but this is another film wherein the treatment supersedes the writing which treads on the path of familiarity and predictability. The gaze with which the film should be looked that is of an adventure drama with bouts of urgency sprinkled throughout the narrative. Yet, you are so consumed by its spectacular treatment featuring VFX out of the top drawer that you tend to overlook parts of the writing that don’t have anything new to offer, over a screenplay standing at 145 minutes.

The drama opens with the introduction of a fresh protagonist in a different timeline, who along with his friends prepares for a coming of age by collecting the eagle eggs. There is a sense of warmth to the proceedings by which you can make out that the world is peaceful with apes living in harmony with each other, and no humans in sight. But things change for the worse with the introduction of the first conflict in the form of a rival clan who have been living on the manipulated principles of Caesar. So when the clan of the protagonist is attacked, it does create havoc in their world, with further stakes in the drama been raised in the form of the death of a character, early on in the film. This was also in sync with the sentiments that the protagonist shares with his family, something that elevates the underlying emotions.

From the writing perspective, the predictability in the drama is cut by the themes explored in the film. For instance the power tussle that is showcased, is representative of the game of one-upmanship that you would notice in the geo-politics across the world. The manipulated version of the truth is often the flavour of politics on which people are made to believe certain set of facts which in turn leads to hatred and violence. Yet the truth despite being in the minority always triumphs, something that is showcased here pretty well. So even as the protagonist has his entire village disrupted and his family taken away, he does find solace in new friends, one of them being a human that allows him a better understanding of the situation.

What I found wanting was the ‘mystery’ in the third act that felt pretty run of the mill, even as the main antagonist presents himself in a bid to win the protagonist on his side while sidelining the humans. The emotional connect was marginally lacking, something that also transcended in the events leading up to the final act featuring a face-off of sorts. This is where the previous films of the franchise had scored better, with a solid conflict and a memorable face-off in the climax. Yet, what I marveled at was the special effects that more than made up for a few of the writing flaws. The little setup at the end promises the expansion of the universe with supposedly a different route altogether. But overall, the screenplay is decently well penned although elevated by its themes and the special effects.

Dialogues, Music & Direction

The dialogues are quite well written, oscillating between being philosophical to a light banter in the second act, that contributes to some effective moments in the screenplay. The BGM is good and elevates the drama at different junctures. The cinematography coupled with the VFX is impeccable and probably the strongest aspect of the drama. The wide angle shots and some breath-taking special effects are brilliant, something that deviate your attention from the otherwise predictable set of writing. The editing is adequate here. Director Wes Bell does a pretty good job with the drama given that he had a tall order of setting the story in a different timeline. And while the story was just about decent, the direction does elevate the writing from paper to celluloid wherein the vision of the director was visible. The direction is pretty good here.


The performances/voiceovers are pretty impressive here. Lydia Peckham as Soona, Travis Jeffery as Anaya, Eka Darville as Sylva and Peter Macon as Raka are wonderful with their voiceovers. Kevin Durand as Proximus Caesar is terrific and creates a clout of intimidation with his brilliant voiceover. Freya Allan as Mae has a good screen presence and she is supremely effective here even in combat sequences. Owen Teague as Noa does a wonderful job with the voiceover as well. His ability to extract an underlying layer of emotions through his voice was fascinating to witness, in an overall job done pretty well.


Kingdom Of The Planet Of The Apes is a visually stunning sequel laced with bouts of familiarity from its predecessors that scores with its outstanding VFX that supersedes the writing, thereby making it a worthy watch. Available in a theatre near you.

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