Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes: a solid summer blockbuster

 Two apes in Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes.
Two apes in Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes.

This is "the fourth film in the Planet of the Apes reboot franchise, and while the term 'reboot franchise' might make you want to swing quickly from the trees in the opposite direction, it's actually not bad", said Brian Viner in the Daily Mail.

Set hundreds of years after the last film, the narrative centres on Noa (Owen Teague), a kindly, intelligent chimpanzee who sets out to find his tribe after they are captured by the tyrannical Proximus (Kevin Durand) and his army of thugs. "It's a hairy expedition in more ways than one." But, on the way, Noa befriends the wise (and apparently gay) orangutan Raka (Peter Macon), and meets a human (Freya Allan), who "turns out to be one of the few of her kind who can talk".

Perhaps inevitably, it is all a bit silly, and the film does get bogged down towards the "blessed end", which comes "almost two-and-a-half hours from the start". But the "effects are excellent" and, on the whole, director Wes Ball "does a fine job". I do worry, though, about the "dispiriting prospect" that, as the franchise continues, we might end up with a film called "The Realm of the Empire of the Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes". Fingers crossed not.

The "action bits" are perfectly fine, said Kevin Maher in The Times; but the film's hero is "dreary"; the "CGI chimp faces" are "bland and synthetic"; and the closing sequence (as in so many franchise films) abandons the central plot in place of a "set-up for the next instalment". Well, I found the film "thrilling", said Wendy Ide in The Observer. The motion-capture performances are top-rate, and the world it depicts looks "phenomenal", with abandoned tower blocks jutting like broken teeth, and "the decaying carcass of a container ship". As summer blockbusters go, this is "top quality" stuff.