Shropshire Star

Film Talk: Latest chapter in simian super-run lands with Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes

It will stand forever as one of the most iconic franchises in cinema history.

Raka (Peter Macon), Noa (Owen Teague) and Freya Allan as Nova in director Wes Ball and writer Josh Friedman’s Kingdom Of The Planet Of The Apes

When Charlton Heston took on the mantle of astronaut George Taylor back in 1968, the world was treated to something truly special. Planet of the Apes broke the mould in terms of special effects, leaving audiences spellbound as a dystopian world of humans in slavery to a highly-evolved race of sentient apes was brought to life.

Based on the 1963 novel by Pierre Boulle, this one was the action smasher of its day, garnering $33.3 million at the box office and setting a sci-fi standard that would not be eclipsed for nine years, with the introduction of a certain galaxy far, far away.

These days, the Franklin J. Schaffner-directed classic is held on most movie fans’ altars in a similar position to Christmas winners such as The Great Escape and Gone With The Wind. Yet Planet of the Apes was far more than a one-hit wonder.

With four follow-ups dropping between 1970 and 1973, one could have been forgiven for thinking that with the pending dawn of a new century, the simian super-run was due to come to a close. However, with Tim Burton’s 2001 revitalisation of the franchise, interest in all things ape was reignited.

Though this effort drew mixed reactions from critics, the seed of interest was sown again, and with 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the series was rebooted in earnest. Since then, direct sequels have seen motion capture god Andy Serkis et al bring this incredible concept back to life with increasing aplomb, and now a brand new chapter is here for us.

With actor Owen Teague front and centre, and The Witcher’s Freya Allan along for the ride, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes has arrived in cinemas this week. Let’s take a look at this latest sojourn in Ape Town...


Released: May 9 (UK & Ireland)

Wes Ball, director of The Maze Runner trilogy, helms an action-packed sequel set several generations after the glorious reign of highly evolved chimpanzee Caesar.

Like previous instalments, Kingdom Of The Planet Of The Apes is bolstered by motion-captured performances.

Apes are now the dominant species, living harmoniously on the third rock from the Sun. Mankind lives in the shadows, licking its wounds.

Power-hungry bonobo Proximus Caesar (Kevin Durand) defies the teachings of Caesar to enslave other clans and build a vast empire using human technology.

Young chimpanzee Noa (Owen Teague) is determined to end Proximus Caesar’s tyranny with the help of wise orangutan Raka (Peter Macon) and a human outcast named Nova (Freya Allan).

Their gung-ho actions recalibrate the delicate balance of power and define a new future for apes and humans.


Released: May 10 (UK & Ireland, selected cinemas)

Born in England and Hungary respectively, filmmakers Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger made more than 20 films together beginning in 1939 with the wartime drama The Spy In Black starring Conrad Veidt, Valerie Hobson and Sebastian Shaw. Some of the duo’s most popular features include The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp, A Canterbury Tale, A Matter Of Life And Death, Black Narcissus, The Red Shoes and The Tales Of Hoffmann.

Oscar-winning filmmaker Martin Scorsese narrates a deeply personal tribute to the legacy of Powell and Pressburger including rare archival material from various personal collections.

Directed by David Hinton, the feature-length documentary explores the impact of the duo on successive generations including contributions from Powell’s widow Thelma Schoonmaker, who has been Scorsese’s editor since Who’s That Knocking At My Door in 1967.

LA CHIMERA (UK 15/ROI 12A, 131 mins)

Released: May 10 (UK & Ireland, selected cinemas)

In Greek mythology, a chimera is a magical beast comprising different animal parts, often with the head of a lion.

The term has also come to mean an illusion or fabrication of the mind.

Italian writer-director Alice Rohrwacher contemplates both definitions in a magical realist drama set in 1980s Tuscany, anchored by Challengers star Josh O’Connor.

British archaeologist Arthur (O’Connor) emerges from a stint behind bars to continue nurturing his gift for stealing rare Etruscan treasures.

A team of tombaroli accomplices – graverobbers who unearth the priceless artefacts and fence them – follow Arthur through the Italian countryside, looking forward to their next pay day. However, the archaeologist is distracted by the loss of his beloved Beniamina and fantasises about opening a fabled door to the underworld that will lead him back into her arms.


Released: May 10 (UK & Ireland, selected cinemas)

Celyn Jones directs, co-writes and stars in a touching drama adapted by Kaite O’Reilly from her acclaimed 2008 stage play, which premiered at Sherman Cymru in Cardiff then toured nationally.

The title is derived from the nicknames given to two parts of the brain, the amygdala and hippocampus, that we believe are vital to creating new memories and safely storing old ones.

Archaeologist Sarah (Rebel Wilson) suffers a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that traps her marriage to loving husband Joe (Jones) in the past.

Architect Toni (Charlotte Gainsbourg) is in a similar position with her partner Gwen (Trine Dyrholm), 15 years after a TBI condemned their romance to a loop.

With the help of Dr Falmer (Meera Syal), the two survivors and their partners re-evaluate the future and what their respective relationships might look like post-trauma.


Released: May 11 (UK & Ireland)

Carolyn Choa directs a revival of Anthony Minghella’s acclaimed staging of Puccini’s impassioned love story set in the Japanese port city of Nagasaki at the turn of the last century, broadcast live from the stage of the Lincoln Centre For The Performing Arts in New York.

Lieutenant Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton (Jonathan Tetelman) of the US Army is preparing to marry beautiful Japanese geisha Cio-Cio-San (Asmik Grigorian), who is known affectionately as Madam Butterfly.

She is glad to renounce her faith and cast aside personal possessions, save for a sword given by her father, in order to marry the outsider.

When the local priest discovers Cio-Cio-San’s sacrifice, he curses her and the nuptials.

Conducted by Xian Zhang.


Released: May 16 (UK & Ireland, selected cinemas)

Another chance to watch director Mark Bramble’s critically acclaimed production of the glitzy musical with a book by Michael Stewart and Bramble, lyrics by Al Dubin and music by Harry Warren, which was recorded live on the stage of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in London.

Ingenue Peggy Sawyer (Clare Halse) pursues her dream of stardom in the chorus line of new Broadway show Pretty Lady until lead star Dorothy Brock (Bonnie Langford) is unexpectedly indisposed thanks to a broken ankle.

Suddenly, Peggy is given an opportunity to glide into the spotlight.

The songbook includes We’re In The Money, Lullaby Of Broadway, I Only Have Eyes For You and Dames, with choreography by Randy Skinner.

LOVE LIES BLEEDING (UK 15/ROI 16, 104 mins)

Released: May 3 (UK & Ireland, selected cinemas)

London-born filmmaker Rose Glass made an auspicious feature directorial debut in 2020 with Saint Maud, a riveting portrait of religious fervour and sexual awakening set against the brightly lit arcades of a nameless British seaside resort.

For her follow-up, Glass treks across the Atlantic to a remote town in New Mexico to conjure an erotically charged 1980s-set thriller co-written by Weronika Tofilska that recalls the Coen brothers’ early crime capers.

Desire and deceit are sweat-drenched bedfellows in Love Lies Bleeding, which stokes discomfort with Ben Fordesman’s moody cinematography and composer Clint Mansell’s insistent, propulsive score.

Kristen Stewart delivers a fearless central performance as the emotionally scarred product of a violent upbringing, who craves escape from her unedifying reality.

She begins Glass’s picture unclogging a blocked toilet and cleans up far bigger and bloodier messes as emotions spiral out of control.

Bold stylistic flourishes connected to the bulging physicality of Katy O’Brian’s steroid-fuelled bodybuilder distinguish a fraught second half that feels like a runaway train poised to derail.

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