Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes – Review

Worth seeing: for the seamless visual effects and some thought-provoking ideas about the very nature of - well - nature.
Director:Wes Ball
Featuring:Freya Allan, Kevin Durand, Owen Teague, Peter Macon, Eka Darville, Lydia Peckham, Neil Sandilands, Sara Wiseman, Travis Jeffery, William H Macy
Length:145 minutes
Released:9th May 2024


Many generations after Caesar the chimpanzee led the apes in their takeover of the planet, a young chimp, Noa (Owen Teague), is living in a village built largely from treehouses, from the top of which the elders summon eagles.

When a gang of violent gorilla thugs burn the village to the ground, they kidnap the entire population, leaving Noa for dead. But he survives and sets off to find his friends and family and avenge the destruction of his village.

On the way, he encounters a wise old orangutan, Raka (Peter Macon), and a human they nickname Nova (Freya Allan), because humans can no longer speak – or can they?

The three of them decide to travel together but the gorillas are soon on their trail and before long, they find themselves in a coastal commune, with hundreds of suppressed apes, overseen by the fearsome Proximus Caesar (Kevin Durand), who’s come up with a plan to speed up evolution – and he needs Noa and Nova to help him.

When Noa realises that Nova knows more than she’s been letting on, loyalties are split – they’re both trying to stop Proximus finding ancient human secrets that could give him even more power – but they’re not sure whether they’re still working together or whether they’re enemies after all.


The fourth film in the latest iteration of the Planet of the Apes franchise picks up “many generations” after the third left off, at a time when the apes are in full control and only a handful of humans – or echoes as Noa’s village refers to them – run around as savages, wearing carefully placed shreds of animal skin, drinking from and bathing in the river and unable to speak.

But Noa and Raka manage to bump into a human who – unexpectedly – can speak – which is key to where the plot goes next; “many generations” after humans ruled the planet, the self-declared leader of the apes wants to discover the hidden secrets, left behind when the humans lost control.

Much of the narrative feels convenient, incoherent or even illogical – from all remaining humans supposedly being savages to the seemingly vibrant community who aren’t, as the plot requires it – there’s the electrical equipment that clearly hasn’t been used for “many generations” but fires up just fine, once the switch is turned on, as if it was last turned off just last night – every species of primate (human and ape alike) speaks the same language – there appears to be only one orangutan left on the planet – the characters are surrounded by the ruins of sky-scrapers and shopping centres but having no knowledge about who built them – and there’s a very basic rule of physics that seems to escape the film-makers.

The action sequences are often shot in close-up, in dark, confined spaces, which take away from the technical mastery that’s now so taken for granted that it’s in danger of losing its impact – you just accept that you’re watching talking apes. And they do a remarkable job of managing to make the viewers empathise with the chimps – it’s as if the apes are genuinely acting.

There is a thought-provoking moment at the end, where the ambiguous relationship between ape and human poses some interesting questions about the nature of evolution and ecology.

It’s perfectly entertaining – but the story-telling is oddly pedestrian and it’s removed enough from its predecessors that the status of the characters takes a while to bed in and just when we get to know who’s who and where they fit into the big scheme of things, most of them vanish from the story.