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“Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” Mostly Sticks the Landing

Photo credit: IMDb

“Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” is a solid installment in this new series of Planet of the Apes films, but my feeling on it are complicated. By no means was it bad, but the film wasn’t quite as good as I hoped it would be.

Starting with the positives, the attention to detail in this film was comparable to the previous trilogy. The look and feel is as good as it’s ever been even if the narrative isn’t quite up to par.

The story is sporadically interesting, especially when it touches on the legacy Caesar left behind. This film takes place generations after the last film and the apes have split up into different clans. Some of them revere Caesar as a messianic figure, some have outright forgotten him, and some use his ideology in vein to convince other apes to buy into their selfish goals.

This aspect of the film touches on how, over time, a historical or religious figure’s image gets distorted from the reality of who those people actually were. Sometimes it results from the failure of passing down generational knowledge, but sometimes the distortion is intentionally exploited by those in power to manipulate people into buying into a cause or ideology that doesn’t have their best interest in mind.

The way the film sets those themes up got me really hooked, but this concept was never explored as deeply as I hoped.

In hindsight, the first three films were very simple, especially last two. There weren’t very many ingredients plot wise, which allowed the audience to experience the emotions of the characters on a more intimate level. It’s really impressive and I’ve come to appreciate those films a lot more now that I’ve seen “Kingdom”.

This film is more plot heavy than the previous films and at a certain point this gets in the way of the character drama, especially with what the film ends up doing with the humans.

One of the things I loved about the previous films is the gradual shift in the dynamic between apes and humans. As Caesar and the other apes got smarter, the humans lost their dominance and became more desperate to ensure their survival.

Without getting into spoilers, that dynamic gets a bit muddled. The ending of the film is absolutely setting up another film, but the events that occurred feel far fetched based on certain things that were established in the last film.

I have very similar feelings about “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” that I have towards “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”. Even though I’d say kingdom is the weaker of the two. Both of them are really plot heavy which takes the focus away from the apes a bit.

Unlike “rise”, “kingdom” never feels like it’s building towards something. I appreciated how “kingdom” took its time with its characters, but those scenes were kind of aimless. The characters didn’t have as much of a lasting impact on me by the end of the film, which was one of the best parts of the previous films.

Overall, the film stayed true enough to Caesar’s trilogy. Although there were long stretches of the film that left more to be desired, I still think the series is in a good spot for a potential sequel.

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“Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” Mostly Sticks the Landing