Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes: Mark Kermode’s scifi movie review (video).

The latest cinematic jaunt through the jungle, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, takes us 300 years into the future, proving not only that apes will inherit the Earth, but that Hollywood truly never lets a good franchise die a dignified death.

Set long after the events that turned Earth into an ape’s playground, the movie reintroduces us to a world where humans are now the feral ones (a slight exaggeration of morning commuters, really) and apes have their own societal drama, complete with monarchy issues and inter-clan squabbles. Our protagonist, Noa, a young chimp with more charisma than your average politician, gets thrust into the thick of it when a human scavenger ruins his coming-of-age ceremony by smashing his eagle egg. The nerve!

Under the direction of Wes Ball, who once upon a time might have directed “Mouse Guard” had Disney not decided it preferred rodents of the animated variety, the apes embark on an adventure that’s essentially a blend of “Hamlet” and “Mad Max” but with more fur and less coherent grunting. As Noa sets out to rescue his captured clan, he teams up with Mae, a human who can surprisingly speak — a rare skill in this new world that’s now apparently reserved for dramatic plot twists. Together, they encounter various staples of post-apocalyptic scenery: dilapidated bridges, coastal strongholds, and the mandatory military bunkers because, let’s face it, no self-respecting action film would be complete without them.

The film’s villain, Proximus Caesar, is a bonobo with a penchant for old human tech and a title so pretentious it could only be self-assigned. He’s the ape equivalent of that one friend who insists on using French words in every sentence to sound more sophisticated. His grand plan involves unlocking a human vault, because nothing says “ape king” like hoarding outdated human weaponry.

The visuals in “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” are, admittedly, spectacular. We’re talking about CGI that makes you question whether you’re looking at real apes or just very well-trained actors in motion-capture suits. This, combined with action sequences that make you want to applaud the stunt coordinators, almost makes up for a storyline that sometimes feels as though it was stitched together during a particularly chaotic writers’ retreat.

Critics have been generally kind, praising everything from the stunning depictions of our future ape overlords to the performances that bring a touch of Shakespearean tragedy to the primate drama. It seems that in the kingdom of blockbuster reboots, apes not only rule the box office but also our dystopian cinematic fantasies.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes may not win any awards for subtlety, but it does provide a rollicking good time if you’re into apocalyptic escapades with a side of existential angst. Just remember, the next time you see a chimp at the zoo, give a nod of respect — you’re looking at potential future royalty.


Colonel Frog is a long time science fiction and fantasy fan. He loves reading novels in the field, and he also enjoys watching movies (as well as reading lots of other genre books).

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