Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes (2024) – Review by Andrea Carnevali

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Many years after the reign of Caesar, a young ape goes on a journey that will lead him to question everything he’s been taught about the past and make choices that will define a future for apes and humans alike. On in cinemas now.

Here’s a film for which I had zero expectations, mostly because the trailer made it look like another one of those loud, brainless, battle-filled, visual-effects-packed and mostly uninteresting wanna-be-blockbusters (or at least that’s what I got out of it), but also because the idea of resuscitating a franchise, which, after the previous three prequels, felt so complete and satisfying, seemed to me to be a pretty pointless cash-in exercise.

But I have to say, while this film surely doesn’t reach the heights (or rather the depths) and richness of the previous instalments (particularly the last two), I did find myself warming up to it and was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

This is officially the fourth prequel to the classic original 1978 Planet of the Apes, but don’t worry, the beauty of this one is that you don’t have to do any homework.

In fact, as it turns out, you can shrink the plot of the prequels into just a paragraph without losing your audience: a virus breaks out, makes apes smarter and they take over the planet. There you go. Done. Fast forward 300 years and this new film starts.

Directed by Wes Ball (the man behind the forgettable Maze Runner films) Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes (such a mouthful that I’m going to be calling it KOTPOTA from now onwards) is really a standalone “sequel” and sort of “reboot” with a whole new story, a new beginning and new characters.

Clearly the idea is to start building up to more sequels, and given the box office of its first weekend, I can see this developing into another new trilogy. That is not to say that this one doesn’t have a proper ending, because it does.

Sure, there are plenty of echoes of many other films before this, and to say that the message of the film is about colonialism, immigration, xenophobia, is probably giving KOTPOTA  a little bit too much credit, but I have to say, the angle about the different interpretations of history that different people (or in this case, apes) can have, felt fresh and interesting.

If you add to that some properly developed characters and some great visuals, the result is a blockbuster that doesn’t insult your intelligence and at the same time can still entertain.

And of course, this is all without mentioning the main reason why we’re all here: the visual effects, which, I can promise you, are truly stunning!

The CGI-Motion-Capture and scenery, created by the award-winning WETA FX wizards (a company born out of Peter Jackson’s original Lord of the Rings more than two decades ago) are by now so beautifully rendered and well-integrated into the film, that pretty soon you’ll forget those apes were never actually there and in fact. Come to think of it, apes don’t talk either.

The film is out now in cinemas everywhere.

Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick, and a co-creator of the Chiswick In Film festival.

See all Andrea’s film reviews here: Film reviews by Andrea Carnevali

Chiswick In Film festival: Chiswick In Film festival 2023

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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