Review: 'Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes' doesn't climb as high as predecessors

Noa (voiced by Owen Teague) in "Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes."

Noa (voiced by Owen Teague) in "Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes." (20th Century Studios via CNN)

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Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes

I was 18 years old in 2001 and, thanks to my dad, I had seen the original "Planet of the Apes" movie years before. Tim Burton got his hands on the franchise and was releasing a remake with Mark Wahlberg as the star. I wasn't a big fan of the original film, and it had been a bit since I'd liked a Burton film, but, for some reason, I was excited about that movie.

My excitement was for naught, though, because that movie was terrible. Then, in 2011, we got a reboot of the franchise, "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" and it was better than I expected. After that, Matt Reeves took over and made two fantastic films "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" and "War of the Planet of the Apes." Those films are entertaining, well-paced, brilliantly filmed and better than expected.

"War of the Planet of the Apes" ended the trilogy perfectly but, it's now 2024, and we don't know when to let a good thing go. So we now have "Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes," without Reeves at the helm, and I was curious to see how it went.

I have to say, it didn't go great.

Here are some reasons why "Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes" was fine.

The pacing is a mess

"Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes" starts off slow and it stays that way for about two-thirds of the film. There is a little jump start, but then we go back to the slow pacing. I struggled to stay engaged and nearly nodded off once or twice. The pacing picks up once the story really kicks in on what we're doing, but the movie is nearly over at that point.

Out of the nearly two-and-a-half hour film, about 40 minutes felt really exciting.

The characters weren't interesting

The earlier installments of the current franchise introduced one of the most interesting characters in Caesar. I was enthralled with his story, motivations and growth. In addition to Caesar, we were introduced to interesting human characters with whom we grew a connection and cared about how they developed. All of that seemed to fall by the wayside in "Kingdom."

It's not a good sign when I walk out of a two-hour-25-minute movie and don't remember most of the main characters' names or really care about what happened to them. On top of that, we are introduced to some interesting characters, and they're gone almost as quickly as they showed up.

It's hard to care too much about the movie when I don't care much about the characters.

It's missing the human/ape dynamic

Some of what made the earlier Apes installments so enjoyable was the dynamic between the apes and humans. They try to do that in "Kingdom" but it falls short. Jumping the story ahead several hundred years was a mistake in my book as it lost much of the audience connection.

What parents should know

The movie is PG-13, and it earned that rating via violence. There is little to no language, no sex or sexual situations, but the violence is almost constant. It can be brutal at times but not overly graphic. It's close to on par with the other films in the franchise, but it quickly earns its PG-13 rating.


I am hard on the movie here and may make it sound terrible, but it's not. I wasn't bored the whole time, and I've seen much worse, but it just left me wanting — especially after the previous two films were so fantastic.

It may be worth watching if you're a franchise fan, to satiate your curiosity. If you aren't, this isn't a movie to spend the time and money in the theater. Maybe wait for streaming or visit one of those old, dusty Redbox towers at your supermarket and use a dollar.

"Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes" is officially rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci/fi, action violence.

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John has grown up around movies and annoys friends and family with his movie facts and knowledge. He also has a passion for sports and pretty much anything awesome, and it just so happens, that these are the three things he writes about.


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