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On the Screen: ‘Planet of the Apes’ evolves with the birth of a new storyline

DAVID ADAMS watches the fourth instalment in the rebooted ‘Planet of the Apes’ series…

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes (AU – M/UK – 12A/US – PG-13)

In a word: Satisfying


Noa (voiced by Owen Teague) in 20th Century Studios’ Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes. PICTURE: Courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2023 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

Set many years after the death of Caesar – the ape who started it all, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes follows the story of Noa (Owen Teague), a young ape who lives in a peaceful village where his father holds the exalted position of Master of Birds and is responsible for overseeing care for the birds of prey who roost there (and with whom villages have deep relationship “bonds”).

“In what could easily be watched as a stand-alone film for those who want to enter the franchise here (there’s a quick primer at the start to get you up up to date), we follow Noa’s story as, after his village is attacked by mysterious masked apes and its inhabitants largely led away as captives, embarks on a journey to find them and bring them home.”

In what could easily be watched as a stand-alone film for those who want to enter the franchise here (there’s a quick primer at the start to get you up up to date), we follow Noa’s story as, after his village is attacked by mysterious masked apes and its inhabitants largely led away as captives, embarks on a journey to find them and bring them home.

Along the way he meets “fellow travellers” including a wise orang-utan named Raca (Peter Macon), a member of a pseudo-religious order that vows to keep Caesar’s legacy alive, and a human woman Mae (Freya Allan) who join him in his quest to track down his family and friends, eventually encountering the titular kingdom ruled over by the cunning Proximus Caesar (Kevin Durand) whose pronouncements include the oft-repeated “It’s a wonderful day!”.



Here, the conflict is largely between ape and ape rather than between humans and apes (although there’s a suggestion that may change down the track).

The visuals are a highlight – important, given a big part of watching a Planet of the Apes film is seeing how the world has been transformed, and the action thrilling enough as director Wes Ball deftly oversees a story that, while it doesn’t take any dramatic steps away from the previous films, has enough developments for those following the franchise and for newcomers.

From the get-go there’s a bit of a sense of a reboot – while nodding to the movies past, here’s an all new cast and the birth of a storyline that’s clearly intended to continue (this is apparently the first of a new trilogy of films).

A diverting, if not surprising, film.

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