two apes and a woman standing on a beach in kingdom of the planet of the apes
(20th Century Studios)

‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ Is an Action-Packed Story of Strength, Survival, and Community

4/5 eagle sons

The Planet of the Apes movies are known for a number of things: Humans are the lesser species, and Apes can speak, and act. Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is all that and more, ushering in a new high for the franchise.

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Noa (Owen Teague) is a young chimpanzee who lives with his clan and raises eagles. Noa’s life is thrown into turmoil when an echo (a human) named Mae (Freya Allan) begins stealing from him. Mae is seemingly special because even leaders like Proximus Caesar (Kevin Durand) want to capture her. Proximus is a leader who has used the words of Caesar to convince his apes to take and destroy clans all in the name of evolution.

In a movie that has, for the most part, one major role for a human, you’d think that it would get a bit too CGI at some point. But there is a masterful art to Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes and the technology used to bring the apes to life. It is so realistic that, at times, you have to remind yourself that no, it is not possible for apes to speak. Yet…

This movie has opened up a door for many unhinged thoughts. (Yes, I maybe have a new ship and no…it is not what you’d probably think.) But it also hit that emotional chord that I think is important for Planet of the Apes movies to nail. Sure, it is fun to see a bunch of apes talking and walking around but when you’re invested in the emotional stakes of a character, that is just better storytelling.

With a runtime of nearly two and a half hours, I was worried that the movie would drag. But through Wes Ball’s direction and a screenplay by Josh Friedman, Rick Jaffa, and Amanda Silver, you don’t want Noa’s story of strength and growth to end.

Apes Together Strong

apes touching foreheads in kingdom of the planet of the apes
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

What works for Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is its willingness to establish love between these apes and a trust that makes their journey that much more emotional. Noa, Soona (Lydia Peckham), and Anaya (Travis Jeffery) all grew up together and care deeply about the others. When Noa ends up separated from them, it is that love that drives him to return to his clan.

I don’t know what it is about this movie but watching an orangoutang named Raka (Peter Macon) talk about books and humans and apes living together made me so incredibly emotional. Yes, a Planet of the Apes movie made me cry multiple times. But I was that deeply invested in Noa that I wanted to see him succeed.

Pair that with his newfound connection with Mae and the stakes of this movie made for an exciting and unpredictable ride.

But as always is the case with this franchise, humans are still a figure point in the story. We saw the desperation of humanity represented in Mae and the community and the love that Noa has gotten from his clan displayed in beautiful and nuanced ways. Noa discovers the world outside of the camp his clan has built and Mae is learning that she can trust the apes to protect her. Which, for me, is better than all the action sequences.

You will be cheering in your seats for characters you’ve just met. Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes hits theaters on May 10, 2024, and is absolutely stunning to watch.

(featured image: Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture)


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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.