Kingdom Of The Planet Of The Apes

Cert - 12, Run-time - 2 hours 26 minutes, Director - Wes Ball

After his village is destroyed, chimpanzee Noa (Owen Teague) sets out to free his tribe from an ape (Kevin Durande) trying to unlock a secret which could increase his power.

When Disney bought 20th Century Fox one of the first things they did was set about making new instalments of some of the studio's biggest franchises. When it comes to the modern Planet Of The Apes series the right thing was done in moving things on from the days of Andy Serkis' Caesar. Now in the 24th century, plantation covers rusted metal beams of former skyscrapers and airports, almost all backdrops are of natural land.

The scenery throughout once again blends seamlessly with the motion capture ape performances and the live-action human characters, now largely silent, living in tribes of minimal numbers. This is now truly the planet of the apes with the animals living in their own communities and having full spoken conversations with no hint of uncanny valley whatsoever.

Each tribe has its different ways, and Noa (Owen Teague) is preparing for a ceremony which will see him move on to the next stage of his life - while the introduction to his world, and the film bringing its elements together, takes some time and yet still doesn't fully explain what the ceremony means. However, the night before his village is attacked by a group of weapon-wielding apes who leave him presumed-dead and kidnap his friends and family.

By the time Noa finally reaches the place where everyone is being held and we meet the main villain of the film - after encountering other faces such as Peter Macon's very likable orangutan Raka, stating that the words of Caesar have been forgotten and twisted - we're over halfway through the run-time. While generally engaging, amongst a familiar narrative which perhaps sticks out more considering the world things pan out in, certain scenes feel as if they could be lifted with just a bit more context, especially when it comes to moments of conflict. 

With the references to Caesar, and the way the film looks at the changed relationship between man and ape Kingdom feels as if its something of a bridge between the previous three instalments and a new chapter in the franchise. This especially feels the case when focusing on main villain Proximus (Kevin Durand), whose minimal screen-time means he works thematically but not always as a threat, attempting to open a mysterious vault which he believes the content could help him control the now planet of the apes. Whilst not building up to more throughout the final stages certainly open up to a wider world with potential interest, further exploring the best ideas and themes of the film.

Things may be a bit drawn out and familiar in this bridge chapter, creating a familiar story line amongst building blocks for the future, however the consistently fantastic visuals help to bring the changed world to life, strengthening the central characters and pushing their story within the world on.

Three stars, Jamie Skinner