FILM REVIEWS: Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes

Two of the year’s best action movies are now running side by side at our two brilliant 12-screen multiplexes Cineworld Broad Street and Odeon Broadway Plaza.

Today’s new Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes release (reviewed below) and last week’s The Fall Guy both rely heavily on stunt teams for excitement ,with increasing calls for their work to be recognised at the Oscars.

If you’re scared of heights, the bravery of the window maintenance team’s work at Moda Living’s Mercian Tower on Broad Street – echoing the opening wire scene of The Fall Guy – will definitely make you go weak at the knees!

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes (12A, 145 mins). The tenth Planet of the Apes movie in the 55-year-old series overall follows on from the 2011-2017 trilogy which revived interest in the concept.

This story is set ‘several generations’ beyond Caesar’s reign in War for the Planet of the Apes (2017) – which remains the best movie of the entire franchise.

The latest premise reflects the post-Covid era. A virus has regressed humankind, but the apes are now conversing at will in plain English as well as through subtitled sign language.

Young ape Noa (Owen Teague) questions his elders,  becomes more sympathetic to humans and faces more powerful apes.

If Oxfordshire actress Freya Allan is on screen a lot but still underused as Mae, William H Macy’s heavily disguised casting as a fellow human begs the question: ‘Why?’

The verdict: **** From the enhanced climbing, swinging and athletic sequences set to the thumping music of John Paesano (The Maze Runner) there’s so much to enjoy about the latest generation of silver screen apes in a film that visually teases hints of Jurassic Park, The Revenant, Avatar and Titanic.

Adventure-hungry late teens will long remember the stunning action sequences that range from aerial, clifftop and treetop battles to surviving millions of tonnes of water which more than compensate for the film feeling half an hour too long.

Like The Fall Guy, the BBFC’s view that Kingdom contains ‘moderate violence’ worthy of a 12A and not a 15 is pushed to the limit. As well as some severe beatings, there’s another knife in the back at one point.

On the animal front, a horse is prodded with a sparking, taser-style pole and eggs are stolen from the nests of birds of prey.

Kingdom is billed as a ‘Wes Ball film’ even though his three The Maze Runner films were overshadowed by that other ‘dystopian’ series, The Hunger Games.

To his great credit, though, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes feels like it was shot in real environments rather than on a soundstage. Its effective as an example of old-fashioned chase-me escapist entertainment as well as having a relevance to the modern world’s own struggle for peace.

The film is showing in premium iSense and Dolby formats at Odeon Broadway Plaza and in seat-shaking 4DX and immersive IMAX at Cineworld Broad Street – as well as in standard screens at both site.

Boost for local composer

Love Lies Bleeding has been retained at both Odeon Broadway Plaza (weekdays only) and daily at Cineworld. This is extra good news for its brilliant-score composer Clint Mansell (Black Swan / The Wrestler). The Coventry-born former lead singer of Pop Will Eat Itself has previously performed at Westside’s world class concert venue, Symphony Hall.

Picture credits: Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, 20th Century Studios. Mercian Tower, Graham Young.


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