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Kingdom of The Planet of the Apes

“Apes will learn. I will learn. And I... will conquer. Proximus Caesar (Kevin Durand)

Why do I sit, motionless, for 2 ½ hours? Only under the genial work of filmmakers like director Wes Ball and writer Josh Friedman in their powerful Kingdom of The Planet of the Apes. I’m not talking just about their ingenious motion capture; I’m also referring to a screenplay that crackles with humanity even if it’s mostly apes.

The kingdom has been breached by mean gorilla-like bad boys, headed by Proximus, who finds echoes, known to us as humans, to be smelly and intellectually inferior. A virus is responsible for the turnabout of apes to superior as humans try to regain their foothold on the culture.

Most intriguing about the several relationships is that of Noa and Mae, he ape, she human. I can’t even tell if the writers want to suggest a budding romance, but I do see a developing mutual respect born of the evolution of each and their need to survive the dominance of the Proximus gang. As they develop a plan to free their clans, both act as a team to be reckoned with.

None of their machinations is typical sci-fi overreach; rather their heroics come from characters we develop an affection for and hope for their survival. In other words, this adventure film, arriving just in time for summer, highlights the natural diversity of human and animal, in this case ape and mankind.

The allegorical implications of this high pop art are many: the struggle between Jews and Arabs to find common ground comes immediately to mind as does the plight of Ukrainians to remain independent of Russia. In our own country, the combat between left and right takes on epic proportions, and the COVID virus continues to alter everyday life. The parallels to the challenges of apes and humans in Kingdom of The Planet of The Apes are all too real.

The strength of Kingdom of The Planet of the Apes is from what we know of being human and seeing it manifested in apes, who may be reflections or echoes of our early evolution, yet more certainly exemplars of our instincts to survive, to exalt our brains, and to love.


Kingdom of The Planet of the Apes

Director: Wes Ball (The Maze Runner)

Screenplay: Josh Friedman (Avatar: The Way of Water)

Cast: Freya Allan (Gunpowder Milkshake), Kevin Durand (Wild Hogs)

Run Time: 2h 25m

Rating: PG-13

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts NPR’s It’s Movie Time and Cinema Classics as well as podcasts Back Talk and Double Take (recently listed by Feedspot as two of the ten best NPR Movie Podcasts) out of WCBE 90.5 FM, Columbus, Ohio. Contact him at

John DeSando