Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes | Picturehouse Recommends

The iconic science-fiction series jumps centuries into the future in an imaginative, expansive new chapter from director Wes Ball.

Ian Freer

01 May 24

Wes Ball

Release Date
9 May


William H. Macy, Owen Teague, Kevin Durand, Freya Allan, Peter Macon


Running Time
145 mins

Since its debut in 1968, the Planet of the Apes franchise has set a benchmark for thoughtful science-fiction cinema, mixing stunning spectacle and explosive action with ideas about the way civilisation and humanity have developed.

The hugely successful 2010's trilogy – Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) and War for the Planet of the Apes (2017) – broke new ground for the franchise, bleeding-edge performance technology enhancing Andy Serkis' acting skills to create a completely convincing and iconic ape leader, Caesar.

Now, with The Maze Runner trilogy director Wes Ball picking up the baton from Rupert Wyatt and Matt Reeves, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes powers the saga into completely fresh, exciting new territory.

Perhaps the biggest swing Ball and screenwriters Josh Friedman, Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver and Patrick Aison have taken is to move the story on three centuries following the death of Caesar. In this new world order, apes are the prevailing species, living harmoniously together while the humans have been reduced to eking out an existence in shadows. Now, the homo sapien dwellings are occupied by apes from different factions, some forging dwellings in old powerline towers overrun by foliage.

One such ape is Noa (It's Owen Teague), a young chimpanzee who leaves his high-rise homestead to embark on a harrowing journey. Noa is a resourceful simian – he uses a trained pet eagle to fetch like a dog, a nifty play on the "man's best friend" dynamic – but his quest forces him to reconsider what he understands about his heritage and what the future might look like for both apes and humans.

Yet Noa is not alone in this journey. He is joined by a human, Nova (Brit actor Freya Allan, best known as Cirilla of Cintra in The Witcher), and together the unlikely duo are pulled into hair-raising escapades. Some of the spectacular action sequences include a river rapids chase and a climb up a sheer cliff face.

In a neat nod to Franklin J. Schaffner's 1968 original, a band of apes hunt humans, wielding deadly cattle prods to capture their petrified prey. This is not the only nod to the original. A desolate beach hints at the finale of Planet of the Apes, one of the greatest twist endings in cinema history.

Of course, in the vacuum left by Caesar, the franchise needs a new Big Bad and Kingdom... promises to deliver in spades. Played by Kevin Durand (fantasy horror series Locke & Key), the ominously named Proximus Caesar is a tyrannical warlord who is building a new empire by any means necessary. When he bellows to his followers "What a wonderful day!", you just know something heinous is about to happen.

A big part of the appeal of the Apes films is their consummate and detailed world-building and Ball and his creative team – cinematographer Gyula Pados and production designer Daniel T. Dorrance – have created another visually dense, atmospheric setting, running with the idea that time has movedon centuries and only bare remnants of the previous era remain.

It's a fantastic milieu, one that will hopefully be explored further if the planned trilogy comes to pass. You can go ape just thinking about the possibilities.   Ian Freer

In The Know


"Apocalypto with apes" was Wes Ball's pitch for the new direction for the franchise, referring to Mel Gibson's 2006 Mayan adventure movie.


Although he does not appear in the new film, Andy Serkis did Zoom mentoring for the cast, helping them get into the monkey mindset.


There are 1995 years between the original film and Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

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Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is in cinemas from 9 May Book Now!