Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes Sets Up A New Trilogy

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

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes might be on the long side but is another strong follow-up in the Planet of the Apes franchise.

I’ll get into more below the film’s logo but the current Planet of the Apes franchise can do no wrong. Aside from certain casting issues with a character in the first film, that is. I was curious to how they would continue the story but it helps having both Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver as producers and co-writers. They know the franchise inside and out. This film takes place around many generations later and is kicking off a new trilogy. The visual effects keep getting better and better as time moves on. Wes Ball and company opt for filming practically when available but also utilized The Volume. Seeing as how the apes are CGI by way of performance capture technology, this may just be for the best.

Director Wes Ball discusses the film’s setting in the production notes:

“We never really put a date on it to be honest, which was a brilliant move on our writers’ part. It is many, many generations later, but it can be whatever you want because it is people’s determination of how long they think it really is based on the visuals.”

I can’t wait to see what happens in the next installment. I’ll have some more thoughts on this below.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes.
Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes. © 2023 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

The reign of Caesar is long over. War for the Planet of the Apes already saw a world where apes where rising in dominance over humans as the virus took control. It’s now many generations later and humans are seen as scavenger types. They no longer have ability to speak–well, most do not. Again, this is because of the virus that practically wiped out humankind. What happens when a new ape takes charge as king and opts to unite all the apes together in one kingdom? And no, it’s not being done peacefully either. They destroy homes and any ape that will not do their bidding. After Noa (Owen Teague) loses his father in a murderous attack, he goes on a journey and learns things that were never taught to him, Soona (Lydia Peckham), or Anaya (Travis Jeffery).

Noa meets Raka (Peter Macon), an orangutan of the last apes in the Order of Caesar. As such, he learns about Caesar, apes, and humans changes his perspective. I’m wondering if orangutans are all a part of the Order of Caesar because of Maurice promising Caesar that Cornelius will know who he was. Hundreds of years later and it’s now a world where truths are not quite being passed down from generation to generation. The bay window logo is still very much alive and well but Proximus Caesar (Kevin Durand) does not have the same values of his namesake. Instead, all he wants is whatever is inside the U.S. government vault. This is where Mae (Freya Allan) comes in. There is a nice easter egg with calling her Nova because of mute women having the name in Caesar’s time. “We name them all Nova,” Raka says.

Mae has her own agenda, which also sets up the next installment in the franchise. I’m curious to see where things go in that regard. Will humans ever be able to get their dominance back, let alone the wider ability to speak? Mae is among the select few that can talk–something that marketing spoiled in previous trailers or TV spots. As such, she’s one of the smarter ones but her mother taught her to be silent, too. Others are more feral. And then there’s Trevathan (William H. Macy). In any event, Mae is important to Proximus because of what may be inside the vault. Will two intelligent species be able to survive going forward? This is a question that the next sequel will have to answer unless they save it for the third installment of this trilogy.

This is a very different generation–one that does not know of the previous relationship between apes and humans were different some many generations prior. Caesar is a legend at this point but his ideas are alive and well in their own strange ways. After all, Apes Together Strong, right? The film does not abandon any of what’s come before although I’d love to know what happened to the Icarus, which was lost in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. What about George Taylor (Charlton Heston)? We might never know what became of Caesar’s son in the reboot series but we know the species is thriving. They’re raising eagles now!

Visually speaking, the visual effects are just as stunning here. I fully expect that the film will pick up a VFX nomination at the Oscars. Will it be enough to get over the line this time and actually win? We’ve got some ways to go and honestly, it’s way too early to be discussing the Oscars anyway. We’ll have a better idea come Labor Day weekend about what the competition will like like. But for right now, let’s just enjoy the movie for the action-packed entertainment spectacle that it is.

SCREENWRITERS: Josh Friedman and Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver and Patrick Aison
CAST: Owen Teague, Freya Allan, Kevin Durand, Peter Macon, and William H. Macy

20th Century Studios will release Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes in theaters on May 10, 2024. Grade: 4/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.