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[Herald Review] 'Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes' offers meticulously crafted scenes, layered characters

By Lee Yoon-seo

Published : May 14, 2024 - 13:10

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A scene from A scene from "Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes" (Walt Disney Korea)

Upon its release in 2011, the classic Hollywood blockbuster IP Planet of the Apes reboot trilogy, backed by Oscar-nominated VFX techniques, captivated audiences worldwide with its shocking story of primates challenging humans as the dominant species on Earth.

The series is back seven years later with a meticulously crafted fourth installment, which effectively prompts the question of what it means to be human -- and whether it will be possible for different species with high intelligence to coexist on the same planet.

Wes Ball's "Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes," set some hundreds of years after the events in "War of the Planet of the Apes," (2017) sets off on an entirely new storyline that has Earth ruled by intelligent primates and humans, devoid of intelligence or the ability to speak.

The story mainly follows Noa, an ape from a clan that raises eagles, as he sets on a journey to retrieve his family from Proximus Caesar, the ruler of the Mask Clan who kidnapped and enslaved his family.

"Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes" is rife with carefully directed scenes that symbolically explore how coexistence should be pursued between different species.

Through the contrasting portrayal of Noa and his clan raising eagles -- and Noa's realization that humans once raised confined apes -- the director throws out to the audience the question of whether dominance among species is a matter of perspective.

The film also depicts a human character with remarkable depth, whose actions and beliefs are thought-provoking.

During his quest to reunite with his family, Noa comes in contact with a girl named Nova, who, at first, looks innocent and devoid of intelligence, but is hiding numerous secrets.

If Nova from "War for the Planet of the Apes" is simply a symbol of human kindness and virtue, the latest installment introduces a new Nova who prompts audiences to reassess human hubris, which assumes automatic supremacy over Earth.

In addition to exploring profound philosophical questions, the movie is 145-minute-long marathon of fantastic visual effects.

True-to-life facial expressions of apes realized by improvements in VFX techniques over the last seven years allow the audience to empathize with protagonists of different species.

"Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes," via its meticulously directed scenes, symbolism and carefully crafted characters, effectively delivers the core message of the franchise.

However, those expecting the fresh, raw impact experienced by witnessing the primates' cry of defiance of humanity -- such as Caesar's iconic "Nooo!!" -- from the fourth in the Planet of the Apes franchise may be disappointed, as the audience is thrown into the familiar world of fluently conversing primates from the get-go.

"Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes" is currently screening in local theaters.