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The Student Voice of Fordham Lincoln Center

The Observer

The Student Voice of Fordham Lincoln Center

The Observer


‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ Continues the Epic Trilogy

Decades after Caesar’s era, a young ape embarks on a quest, challenging the new ape’s empire and his beliefs about the human race.
Set 300 years later, the film introduces some new characters such as Noa, an ape played by Owen Teague, and Mae, a human played by Freya Allen.

“Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” opened a new chapter in the “Planet of the Apes” trilogy on May 10. The film debuted at no. 1 in North America with a $58 million opening. This latest installment was released seven years after its predecessor, continuing the narrative journey of the apes, the franchise’s enduring appeal and cinematic evolution from the last film to this new era. 

The trilogy follows Caesar (Andy Serkis) over 12 years, depicting how apes gained intelligence and speech after being used for animal testing. The testing leads to a virus that nearly wipes out humans, leaving survivors with a mutation that renders them mute and reduces their knowledge. The film continues from the final scene of the last film, “War for the Planet of the Apes,” released in 2017, with the death of the apes’ leader, Caesar, who fought for the freedom of his kind. Now, without their leader to guide them, the apes must rebuild their empire in a new location. 

Three centuries after Caesar’s death, the story introduces Noa (Owen Teague), an ape unaware of Caesar’s legacy but mirrors his virtues, prioritizing love over war. A new antagonist, Proximus Caesar (Kevin Durand), an evolved Bonobo and leader of a coastal ape clan, seeks to enslave apes and hunt humans. Proclaiming himself the new Caesar, Proximus aims to elevate apes to dominance with human weapons and technology, “In their time, humans were capable of many great things,” Proximus said. “But now, it is our time; apes will learn, and I will conquer.” 

This franchise is impactful because although it is not based on a true story, it reflects human behavior, the constant desire for conflict, and the lack of compassion and mercy.

The new kingdom of apes has twisted Caesar’s words against everything he stood for. His teachings have been distorted to incite war and chaos. Caesar led with morality and dignity. He desired coexistence between animals and humans while leaving behind valuable lessons, such as “apes don’t kill apes” and the strength in unity with the iconic phrase “apes together strong.” Noa is the only one who can keep Caesar’s legacy alive.

This franchise is impactful because although it is not based on a true story, it reflects human behavior, the constant desire for conflict, and the lack of compassion and mercy. The films highlight one of humanity’s darker aspects: animal cruelty.

These films showcase chimpanzees being hurt and experimented on by scientists and humans enslaving and harming apes. This aspect of the film has been translated into the real world since, in the early 1920s, researchers in the United States started buying baby chimpanzees who had been snatched from the forests of Central and West Africa. Many apes have suffered the consequences of humans while living in a lab or behind bars at a zoo, and this film reflects this unfortunate truth.

The most profound aspect of this franchise is the underlying theme that peaceful coexistence between humans and apes is impossible. The films depict a world where apes hunt humans and must hide to survive, portraying what the world would look like if apes were the dominant species. However, if humans were rulers, apes would likely be subjected to experimentation in labs or confined to zoos for entertainment, as they are today. The apes know there can be no freedom for their kind if humans regain power.

A crucial scene occurs when Noa finds a children’s book. The book depicts humans as happy and free, while monkeys are shown behind bars at the zoo. There is a powerful contrast in the human’s freedom versus the monkey’s captivity highlighting the human perception of animals as mere entertainment. It’s a dark portrayal of the sad reality that one kind’s freedom often comes at the cost of another’s captivity.

What’s also intriguing about this film is that scientists’ pursuit of medical evolution leads to a reversal of human progress, taking us back to the Stone Age, dating over 2.5 million years ago. The new plot shows humans devolved into their primitive caveman state, characterized by a lack of language, clothing and life in the wilderness. Humans trying to evolve cost them the exact opposite.

In preparation for the release week, I revisited the trilogy to refresh my memory and ensure a seamless continuation of the saga. This franchise is special in my heart, as I have always deeply connected to animals growing up. 

The performances and dialogue in the film are incredibly moving, evoking a range of emotions from the deepest of loves to the most hateful rage and everything in between as we witness the complex relationships between humans and apes. I felt connected to the movie and shed a tear, but mostly, I felt empowered by Noa and Caesar’s legacy. 

Caesar is one of the more well-crafted characters in the series. Serkis’ portrayal, Caesar’s story and the computer-generated imagery combine to form a compelling character I will always root for. Despite being an animated character, Caesar feels remarkably realistic on screen.

By the story’s ending, I wondered: Will both worlds be able to coexist again? The remaining humans work to slowly restore human technology. New communication technologies will give humans an advantage over apes in the future, potentially making humans world leaders once again.

“Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” was the perfect continuation of this trilogy, introducing a new period of apes while tying it to Caesar’s impactful legacy. The director Wes Ball has confirmed plans for two sequels to follow the “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” ending.

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ANDREA RIVAS, Staff Writer

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