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Film Review: Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes

Welcome back to the blog readers. This is the first time that I have said this on this blog, but I am a massive fan of the rebooted Planet of the Apes (2011-present) series. I did not catch the original series (1968-73) or Tim Burton's remake (2001), but these films have absolutely captivated me, and they even introduced me to the legend himself: Andy Serkis, who gave three masterful performances of the ape Caesar. All three previous films were incredible, but especially War for the Planet of the Apes (2017), which was my favorite film of 2017. I have had high hopes for this film, so would I be as impressed with this film as the others? Stick around to find out.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes was directed by Wes Ball from a script by Josh Friedman, based on characters created by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver and the premise from Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle. The film stars Owen Teague, Freya Allen, Kevin Durand, Peter Macon, and William H. Macy. In the film, set many generations after the death of Caesar, a young chimpanzee named Noa allies with a human named Mae to determine the future for humans and apes alike.

Before I give you my thoughts on the film, I just want to say that I have not seen anything from director Wes Ball, so this will be my first experience with him. His only films before this were the Maze Runner trilogy (2014-2018), which my family saw and liked, and I did not. Now, would I be excited to see what is next for him after this and the Legend of Zelda film are done? I would like to say that...I definitely am. And I will go one step further and say holy shit guys. This film is fucking amazing. Everything from the score to the performances to the effects to the story to Wes Ball's direction. We have to talk about it.

I want to start off by talking about the masterful performance that was Owen Teague as the chimpanzee Noa. For someone who has not really been in a whole lot up to this point, he acted like he absolutely belonged in the spotlight. Every actor that puts on the motion-capture suit has to absolutely bring it, but Teague definitely makes you feel for someone who is playing an ape. The power that he puts into his movements, his voice for the role, everything with his performance was pitch perfect in my opinion. I honestly believe that this is my favorite performance of the year so far.

The final performance I want to talk about, although the role was brief compared to the other ones, is Kevin Durand as Proximus Caesar. First off, the ape himself is fucking terrifying as hell. One of those things that make him terrifying is that damn voice man, Durand finds a voice that is absolutely engraved in my head, days later even. His purpose is engrained in the story, which I will talk more about later, but that purpose makes him a real intimidating villain in my opinion.

Next, I want to talk about the effects in this film. I cannot believe how good the technology is that makes us believe that there are literally apes walking around what (I believe at least) used to be Los Angeles, riding horses, killing other apes, and especially talking. I love how Andy Serkis was a consultant for the motion capture and effects, and just how real everything looked. I honestly believe at this moment that this film is a frontrunner for the Best Visual Effects Oscar. And yes, I am dead serious.

The final thing I want to talk about is the story of this film. The previous Apes trilogy had a great story with great arcs for characters like Caesar and others. But the story of this film though? Holy shit. First I loved the character arcs of Noa and Mae, these characters are fleshed out and as real as any in my opinion. And the whole idea of there being an ape that has twisted the teachings of Caesar is a brilliant commentary on the religious "warriors" that have risen up in the last few years. I think it was a bold statement to make on the basis of faith and belief, and makes Caesar's teachings a myth rather than law. I cannot wait to see where sequels to this one go.

In conclusion, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is a fantastic character study in a world ruled by apes, with brilliant performances, story, and effects that will leave you howling for more. Thank you all for reading, and I will see you all for the next one.

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