Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes

2024, PG-13, 145 min. Directed by Wes Ball. Starring Owen Teague, Freya Allan, Peter Macon, Lydia Peckham, Travis Jeffery, Kevin Durand.

REVIEWED By Richard Whittaker, Fri., May 10, 2024

Don’t underestimate apes: They’re always smarter than you think. Similarly, while the Planet of the Apes movies are sold as action-adventures featuring super-sentient simians, they have always been host to ambitious and evolving metaphors. For the 1968 original, Michael Wilson and Rod Serling took French author Pierre Boulle’s La Planète des singes (with its subtext of “intelligence: use it or lose it”) and turned it into a Cold War nuclear terror fever dream. Over time, multiple movies, and a not-so-memorable TV show, it became a cry against animal testing and for humane treatment of humanlike species. When Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver were hired to pen 2011’s reboot, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the metaphor had evolved again and continued to develop across two sequels, to critique humanity’s hubristic belief that it should always be at the top of the food chain.

With that trilogy complete, and the tale of chimpanzee Caesar’s rise from experimental subject to messiah and martyr complete, the fourth film in the reboot series needed to find fresh purpose. What are these films without Caesar? Well, scriptwriter Josh Friedman has taken that question and extended it out to its logical conclusion: What is this world without Caesar, the ape that led all other apes to freedom?

For teenage chimp Noa (Teague, Montana Story), it’s one of simple challenges. He is the son of the master of birds, for in the intervening decades since Ceaser’s death his troupe has become a fully-fledged clan, living in elevated nests in the wreckage of human construction, rearing golden eagles as hunting birds. For bonobo King Proximus (Durand, Abigail), it’s a quest for power, to become more like the humans of old and to take their tools as his own. Both their idylls are disrupted by the most unexpected of interlopers: Nova (Allan), a human who somehow is immune to the virus that annihilated most of humanity, robbed the rest of speech and intellect, and put apes in charge.

Friedman’s script plays as a fascinating counterpoint to the year’s other literary-based sci-fi blockbuster sequel, Dune Part Two. Both are ultimately about religion, but Denis Villeneuve’s dissection of Frank Herbert’s sandy classic is explicit about it. Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes leaves it mostly to the subtext through the inheritance of Caesar, the ape who said that ape shall not hurt ape and still sought some kind of amicable distance from the old rulers of the Earth. It is about heresy and devotion, compliance and complicity, about how texts can be forgotten and manipulated, all personified in a perfectly idiosyncratic performance by The Orville’s Peter Macon as Raka, the hermit orangutan who believes in the kindest legends of Caesar.

At the story’s heart is the question of who is the true follower of Caesar: Noa, who knew nothing of his name or works, or Proximus, who knows and claims that inheritance but understands nothing. It’s another extraordinary performance from Durand, who catches both the menace and tragedy of a creature who is wrestling with concepts that elude him. As much as you’ll hope for regicide, his is a remarkable depiction of an idiot king: He’s a more violent but no less deluded version of another self-proclaimed king, Louie from Walt Disney’s The Jungle Book, unhinged by his quest for Man’s Red Flower.

Yet the problem remains that, as with the opening trilogy, the humans are by far the least interesting element of the story. A lengthy coda gives further hints of what will come in proposed sequels, but they are questions that don’t yet seem to be worth asking. If anything, the human legacy often seems disruptive, so when Proximus’ warriors use electric cattle prods, it’s hard not to wonder where they’re getting their working batteries from. (I can’t stop mine leaking after a few months, never mind a decade or seven.)

But the apes, the apes remain the dramatic and technological heart of these films. There’s no second at which they do not appear like living, breathing entities, and the software has advanced so far that they no longer seem like people under a CG mask. But the software would mean nothing without meaningful performances. Teague especially imbues Noa with the burdened tragedy of the first born who fears failure – a fear entertainingly re-enforced through his constant harassment by his “big brother,” his father’s eagle, who he tellingly calls Eagle Son. Noa may not be Caesar's heir as leader of the apes, but he definitely walks in his footsteps as a worthy protagonist in the latest iteration of this ever-intriguing sci-fi classic.

Showtimes

Sun., May 26

digital 12:45, 4:10, 7:35, 10:45

Mon., May 27

digital 12:45, 4:15, 7:45, 9:50

Tue., May 28

digital 11:45am, 3:20, 6:20, 10:00

Wed., May 29

digital 12:00, 3:50, 7:25, 9:00

Sun., May 26

digital 11:20am, 2:50, 6:30, 10:00

Mon., May 27

digital 11:15am, 2:45, 6:15, 9:45

Tue., May 28

digital 11:15am, 2:45, 6:15, 9:45

Wed., May 29

digital 11:15am, 2:45, 6:15, 9:45

Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane

5701 W. Slaughter, 512/861-7060, drafthouse.com/austin/theater/slaughter-lane

Showtimes at this venue are subject to frequent change. Please confirm daily times by phone or website.

Sun., May 26

digital 12:10, 3:45, 7:20, 9:55

Mon., May 27

digital 12:30, 4:10, 7:20, 10:20

Tue., May 28

digital 12:35, 4:10, 7:25, 10:20

Wed., May 29

digital 12:35, 4:15, 7:20, 10:20

Sun., May 26

digital 11:00am, 2:25, 6:00, 9:30

Mon., May 27

digital 10:50am, 2:25, 6:00, 9:30

Tue., May 28

digital 11:00am, 2:30, 6:00, 9:25

Wed., May 29

digital 11:00am, 2:30, 6:00, 9:25

AMC Dine-In Tech Ridge 10

12625 N. I-35, 512/640-1533, www.amctheatres.com

Sun., May 26

CC/DVS, digital 12:30, 5:15, 7:00, 10:15

Mon., May 27

CC/DVS, digital 12:15, 2:00, 5:15, 8:30, 11:00

Tue., May 28

CC/DVS, digital 1:30, 4:00, 7:30, 10:30

Wed., May 29

CC/DVS, digital 1:30, 4:00, 7:30, 10:30

Barton Creek Square (AMC)

2901 Capital of Texas Hwy. S., 512/306-1991, www.amctheatres.com

Matinee discounts available before 4pm daily. Bring Your Baby matinees the first Tuesday of every month.

Sun., May 26

CC/DVS, digital 12:30, 3:45, 7:00, 10:00, 11:00

Mon., May 27

CC/DVS, digital 12:30, 3:45, 6:00, 9:15, 10:30

Tue., May 28

CC/DVS, digital 12:30, 3:45, 6:15, 7:30, 9:30

Wed., May 29

CC/DVS, digital 12:30, 3:45, 7:45, 9:30

Cinemark 20 and XD

N. I-35 & FM 1825, 512/989-8535

Cost for 3-D and XD shows is regular ticket price plus a premium.

Sun., May 26

digital 9:05am, 9:45am, 11:40am, 12:40, 1:10, 3:05, 4:05, 4:35, 6:35, 7:30, 8:00, 10:00, 10:55, 11:15

Mon., May 27

digital 9:10am, 10:15am, 11:30am, 12:35, 1:40, 2:55, 4:00, 5:05, 6:30, 7:25, 8:30, 9:55, 10:45

Tue., May 28

digital 11:30am, 12:20, 1:40, 3:05, 3:50, 5:05, 6:30, 7:15, 8:30, 9:55, 10:40

Wed., May 29

digital 10:25am, 12:20, 1:40, 3:05, 3:50, 5:10, 7:15, 8:35, 9:20, 10:40

Cinemark Cedar Park

1335 E. Whitestone, Cedar Park, 800/326-3264

Call theatre for complete list of movies and showtimes.

Sun., May 26

digital 9:20am, 10:20am, 12:50, 1:40, 4:10, 5:00, 7:30, 10:10

Mon., May 27

digital 9:20am, 10:20am, 12:50, 1:40, 4:10, 5:00, 7:30, 10:10

Tue., May 28

digital 9:20am, 10:20am, 12:50, 1:40, 4:10, 5:00, 7:30, 10:10

Wed., May 29

digital 9:20am, 10:20am, 12:40, 1:40, 5:00, 6:20, 10:10

Sun., May 26

digital 11:10am, 2:35, 6:00, 9:35

Mon., May 27

digital 11:10am, 2:35, 6:00, 9:35

Tue., May 28

digital 11:10am, 2:35, 6:00, 9:35

Wed., May 29

digital 10:50am, 2:25, 6:00, 9:35

Cinemark Round Rock

4401 N. I-35, Round Rock, 800/326-3264

Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium. Call theatre for complete March 26-28 showtimes.

Sun., May 26

digital 10:05am, 12:20, 1:30, 3:45, 4:55, 7:10, 8:20, 10:35

Mon., May 27

digital 10:05am, 12:20, 1:30, 3:45, 4:55, 7:10, 8:20, 10:35

Tue., May 28

digital 10:05am, 12:20, 1:30, 3:45, 4:55, 7:10, 8:20, 10:35

Wed., May 29

digital 10:05am, 12:20, 1:30, 3:45, 7:10, 10:35

Cinemark Stone Hill Town Center

18820 Hilltop Commercial Dr., 512/251-0938, www.cinemark.com

Sun., May 26

digital 11:15am, 2:45, 6:15, 8:00

Mon., May 27

digital 11:15am, 2:45, 6:15, 8:00

Tue., May 28

digital 11:15am, 2:45, 6:15, 8:00

Wed., May 29

digital 11:15am, 2:45, 6:15, 8:00

City Lights Theatre

420 Wolf Ranch Parkway, Georgetown, 512/868-9922

Sun., May 26

digital 1:05, 4:45, 8:15

Mon., May 27

digital 11:15am, 2:45, 6:05

Tue., May 28

digital 11:15am, 2:45, 6:05

Wed., May 29

digital 11:15am, 2:45, 6:05

Evo Cinemas Belterra

166 Hargraves Ste. A-100, 512/457-0700, www.evocinemas.com/belterra

Sun., May 26

digital 10:00am, 1:20, 4:25, 7:30, 10:45

Mon., May 27

digital 1:20, 4:30, 7:30, 10:45

Tue., May 28

digital 1:20, 4:30, 7:30, 10:45

Wed., May 29

digital 1:20, 4:30, 7:30, 10:45

Thu., May 30

digital 10:00am, 1:20

EVO Entertainment

3200 Kyle Crossing, Kyle, 512/523-9009, www.evo-entertainment.com

Sun., May 26

digital 1:00, 4:15, 7:35, 10:15, 10:45

Mon., May 27

digital 10:45am, 2:00, 5:20, 8:30, 10:05

Tue., May 28

digital 10:20am, 1:45, 5:05, 8:15, 9:35

Wed., May 29

digital 10:45am, 2:10, 5:30, 8:40, 10:10

Film Alley Bastrop

1600 Chestnut St, Bastrop, 512/321-0123, bastrop.filmalley.net/

Sun., May 26

digital 11:30am, 3:00, 6:25

Mon., May 27

digital 11:30am, 3:00, 6:25

Tue., May 28

digital 11:30am, 3:00, 6:25

Wed., May 29

digital 11:30am, 3:00, 6:25

Flix Brewhouse

2200 S. I-35, Round Rock, 512/244-3549, www.flixbrewhouse.com/round-rock

Sun., May 26

digital 11:00am, 1:15, 5:45, 8:15, 9:30

Mon., May 27

digital 11:00am, 1:15, 5:45, 8:00, 9:30

Tue., May 28

digital 11:00am, 1:15, 5:45, 8:35, 9:30

Wed., May 29

digital 10:00am, 2:00, 6:00, 9:45

Thu., May 30

digital 11:15am, 1:15, 5:45

Galaxy Highland 10

6700 Middle Fiskville, 512/467-7305, www.galaxytheatres.com

No one under 18 will be allowed in the theatre on Friday or Saturday after 7pm without an adult.

Sun., May 26

digital 11:30am, 3:05, 7:10, 10:15

Mon., May 27

digital 11:40am, 3:15, 7:10, 10:30

Tue., May 28

digital 11:30am, 3:05, 6:30, 9:50

Wed., May 29

digital 11:50am, 3:20, 7:10, 10:15

Gateway Theatre

9700 Stonelake, 512/416-5700

Discounts daily before 6pm. Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Sun., May 26

digital 11:35am, 2:05, 3:00, 6:30, 9:20, 9:50

Mon., May 27

digital 11:45am, 12:55, 3:00, 6:30, 8:50, 9:50

Tue., May 28

digital 11:45am, 12:55, 3:00, 6:30, 8:30, 9:50

Wed., May 29

digital 11:45am, 12:55, 3:00, 6:30, 8:30, 9:50

Thu., May 30

digital 11:45am, 3:00, 6:30, 9:50

iPic Theaters Austin

3225 Amy Donovan Plaza, 512/568-3400, www.ipic.com

Sun., May 26

11:00am, 2:45, 6:45, 10:00

Mon., May 27

11:00am, 2:45, 6:45, 10:00

Tue., May 28

2:45, 6:45, 9:45

Wed., May 29

2:45, 6:45, 9:45

AMC Lakeline 9

11200 Lakeline Mall Dr., Cedar Park, 512/335-4793

Discounts daily before 6pm.

Sun., May 26

CC/DVS, digital 12:00, 3:15, 6:45, 7:50, 9:30

Mon., May 27

CC/DVS, digital 12:00, 3:15, 6:45, 7:50, 9:30

Tue., May 28

CC/DVS, digital 12:00, 3:15, 6:45, 7:50, 9:30

Wed., May 29

CC/DVS, digital 12:00, 3:15, 6:45, 7:50, 9:30

Metropolitan

901 Little Texas, 512/447-0101

Discounts daily before 6pm. Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Sun., May 26

digital 11:40am, 12:50, 3:10, 6:40, 7:10, 10:10

Mon., May 27

digital 11:40am, 12:20, 3:10, 6:40, 7:00, 10:10

Tue., May 28

digital 11:40am, 12:20, 3:10, 6:40, 7:00, 10:10

Wed., May 29

digital 11:40am, 12:20, 3:10, 6:40, 7:00, 10:10

Thu., May 30

digital 11:40am, 12:20, 3:10, 6:40, 7:00, 10:10

Sun., May 26

digital 10:15am, 1:45, 5:00, 8:30, 9:15

Mon., May 27

digital 10:15am, 1:45, 5:00, 8:30, 9:15

Tue., May 28

digital 10:15am, 1:45, 5:00, 8:30, 9:15

Wed., May 29

digital 10:15am, 1:45, 5:00, 8:30, 9:15

Thu., May 30

digital 10:15am, 1:45

Sun., May 26

digital 11:20am, 12:05, 3:45, 7:30

Mon., May 27

digital 11:20am, 12:05, 3:45, 7:30

Tue., May 28

digital 11:20am, 12:05, 3:45, 7:30

Wed., May 29

digital 11:20am, 12:05, 3:45, 7:30

Thu., May 30

digital 11:20am, 12:05, 3:45, 7:30

Southwest Theaters at Lake Creek 7

13729 Research #1500, 512/291-3158, www.southwesttheaters.com

$6.50 children and senior tickets (all-day), $5 Tuesdays (all tickets), Bargain Matinees before 5pm daily.

Sun., May 26

digital 11:50am, 3:10, 6:30, 9:50

Mon., May 27

digital 11:50am, 3:10, 6:30, 9:50

Tue., May 28

digital 11:50am, 3:10, 6:30, 9:50

Wed., May 29

digital 11:50am, 3:10, 6:30, 9:50

Thu., May 30

digital 11:50am, 3:10, 6:30, 9:50

Sun., May 26

digital 11:00am, 2:15, 5:45, 9:00

Mon., May 27

digital 11:00am, 2:15, 5:45, 9:00

Tue., May 28

digital 11:00am, 2:15, 5:45, 9:00

Wed., May 29

digital 11:00am, 2:15, 5:45, 9:00

Westgate 11

4477 S. Lamar, 512/899-2717

Discounts daily before 6pm. Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Sun., May 26

digital 11:15am, 2:45, 6:20, 9:50

Mon., May 27

digital 11:15am, 2:30, 6:00, 7:50

Tue., May 28

digital 11:15am, 2:45, 6:20, 9:45

Wed., May 29

digital 12:05, 3:30, 6:20, 9:35

Thu., May 30

digital 11:15am, 2:45, 6:20, 9:45

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, Wes Ball, Owen Teague, Freya Allan, Peter Macon, Lydia Peckham, Travis Jeffery, Kevin Durand

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