Friday, June 14, 2024

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes: A Surprisingly Compelling Sequel

Sylva (played by Eka Darville) in 20th Century Studios’ KINGDOM OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2024 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

Starring: Owen Teague, Freya Allan, Kevin Durand, Peter Macon, and William H. Macy.

Synopsis: Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes takes us several generations ahead, where apes reign supreme, and humans dwell in the shadows. As a ruthless new ape leader rises to power, a young ape embarks on a perilous journey that challenges his beliefs and reshapes the destiny of both apes and humans. Amidst the turmoil, the choices made by this young ape will determine the fate of their intertwined futures.

Released: In Theaters May 10th

“If you’ve seen one Planet of the Apes movie, then you’ve seen them all!” is what I thought I would say after watching Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, but that’s not all I thought coming out of the theater! In fact, this movie was filled with intriguing character motivation, jaw-dropping special effects, and some intense fighting scenes. 

So what’s making me tell my friends and family to watch the film? Let’s start off by talking about the concept of the film, a human being hunted by primate followers of Proximus Caesar (Kevin Durand), who is inspired by Caesar, the original leader of the franchise and the first intelligently enhanced primate. Proximus’s army pillages, destroys, and enslaves other groups of primates that live comfortably in their respective areas. 

Led by Sylva (Eka Darville), a huge gorilla, Proximus’s army takes over a tribe that prides itself on raising and co-existing with eagles. Protagonist Noa (Owen Teague), a chimpanzee, must gather himself to bring his tribe back home to freedom. With a human girl, Nova/Mae (Freya Allan), following him and a wise orangutan ally, Raka (Peter Macon), they set on an adventure to follow Proximus’s army and prevent the human from being caught. 

(L-R): Noa (played by Owen Teague) , Freya Allan as Nova and Raka (played by Peter Macon) in 20th Century Studios’ KINGDOM OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2024 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

This film isn’t action-packed throughout; instead, it takes time to immerse viewers in the journey of our unlikely trio, Noa, Mae, and Raka, as they travel through diverse environments. We are transported from the lush, green domain of the eagle tribe to the rugged, rust-colored quarters of Proximus, situated by the sea. The journey undertaken by the trio serves as a visual journey, offering glimpses into the unique vibe of each locale and providing insight into the diverse cultures and inhabitants they encounter along the way.

However, these moments of travel serve a crucial purpose, allowing us to look deeper into the characters’ motivations, backgrounds, and stakes. Rather than burdening the narrative with excessive exposition, the film opts for a more organic approach, allowing for the journey to provide reveals and twists that keep viewers engaged in the film, especially when there’s no action.

For instance, Noa’s lack of trust and disinterest in humans is shown very early in the film, especially when Mae is first seen stealing items from him. It isn’t until later that we gradually see how he learns from Raka how to be compassionate toward humans. Mae’s decisions and interactions with Raka and Noa allow her to change her perspective of apes and gain allyship with them in order to take on Proximus. 

Understanding Proximus is the main antagonist, I liked how Mae and Noa still struggled with their views of one another and their kind. This created an exciting aspect for me, creating tension and something at risk for both, keeping the storyline fresh and, most importantly, keeping the audience’s attention. 

(L-R) Noa (played by Owen Teague) and Dar (played by Sara Wiseman) in 20th Century Studios’ KINGDOM OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2024 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

There was natural chemistry between the actors portraying Mae and Noa, as each gave a compelling argument for their beliefs and alliances, but that is what made the movie work. With Raka in the middle trying to help each of them realize Caesar’s true vision, to live in peace and harmony, these two were constantly unsure about how they felt until it came to Proximus. 

I loved how both Mae and Noa were challenged with the difficult decision of killing their own kind and hiding their true intentions from each other, it gives the audience something to think about as well as not allowing them to pick who was 100% right and who wasn’t. 

For me, Raka stood out because he was the wisest and most charismatic of the characters. He provided laughs not only with his words but also with his reactions to certain things and his interactions with others. 

Can we talk about how impressed I am with the dialogue in this film? It’s not only what was said during the course of the film, but the delivery made me believe these characters were real. The intensely emotional moments that could be felt in each frame and just overall how the apes spoke impressed me greatly. Their speech was delayed as if they had just recently learned English. After all, it is their second language. But the way they spoke made me believe that if apes could talk, that’s how they would sound. It was believable.

Freya Allan as Nova in 20th Century Studios’ KINGDOM OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2023 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

Visually, I wasn’t surprised about the top quality of the film, especially with the special effects. I could see every wrinkle, skin indentation, sweat, and other natural body movements the apes made in the film. This was quality CGI combined with great acting, adding to the viewing experience. The only thing that could duplicate anything similar was some extensive quality makeup jobs, like the film’s past. 

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes was another hit for the series, and given the number of films in the franchise and the history of sequels, I have to commend the cast, crew, and director for putting together a great film that left me wanting more. This is not an easy task as sequels that go over 3-4 films don’t hold my interest because of plot holes and lack of quality storytelling. I give the film an 8/10 rating. It’s a must-see in IMAX.  Make sure to catch Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes in theaters now.

Dapper Dr Feel

Felipe Patterson aka Dapper Dr. Feel, #BlackLoveConvo & Entertainment | @fdapperdr Dapper Dr. Feel is a Entertainment journalist and member of the Critics Choice Association and African American Film Association.

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