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Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes offers a compelling continuation of the series reboot 

Wes Ball (The Maze Runner) directs this sequel to the rebooted series that includes Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014), and War for the Planet of the Apes (2017). Taking place 300 years after the events of War, it follows a young male chimp named Noa (Owen Teague) who with a young human woman named Mae (Freya Allan) and a wise orangutan named Raka (Peter Macon) embarks on a mission to save his clan. (145 min.)

click to enlarge SET HIS PEOPLE FREE Noa (Owen Teague) must save his Eagle Clan from a warring neighboring clan, in Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, screening in local theaters. - PHOTO COURTESY OF 20TH CENTURY STUDIOS
  • Photo Courtesy Of 20th Century Studios
  • SET HIS PEOPLE FREE Noa (Owen Teague) must save his Eagle Clan from a warring neighboring clan, in Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, screening in local theaters.

Glen Turns out apes are just as bad at building an equitable society as humans. Noa's Eagle Clan is minding their own business stealing eagle eggs and raising the raptors in towers made of sticks when a neighboring clan of asshole apes led by Sylva (Eka Darville) raids his village, kills his father, Koro (Neil Sandilands), abducts his clan members, and forces them to join Proximus Caesar's (Kevin Durand) clan that's trying to break into an ancient human vault that Proximus believes holds important human technology. Proximus also believes Mae, one of the few humans with the ability to speak, knows a secret way into the vault. What follows is a CGI-rich Exodus story with Noa standing in for Moses working to set his people free. The film's not reinventing the wheel, but if you like the rebooted series, it delivers.

Anna I'm not sure what films I've seen and haven't seen in this franchise, but luckily it doesn't seem like you need more than a vague knowledge of what is going on in this world to jump in with Kingdom. The film starts as Noa and two of his friends—Laika (Frances Berry) and Anaya (Travis Jefferey)—are on what seems to be their clan's coming of age journey to find the eggs they will raise to be their eagle kin. It's a highflying adventure, and Noa feels the pressure to prove himself—he stands in his father's shadow, who's the eagle keeper of their clan. At first, I wasn't loving the somewhat halting and broken language the apes spoke. I got what the filmmakers were doing and trying to convey, but it was distracting at first. Luckily, as the story picks up and the action sequences took over, it lessened. I'm impressed with the CGI here, in particular the close-ups. These apes have faces that show true expression. This type of film franchise isn't something I'll stand in line for, but this one at least worked at having some heart.

Glen CGI has advanced considerably over the years, but you're right that the close-ups offer the most realism. I still find the long shots of, for instance, the apes scrambling up trees, less than realistic, but if you don't let that pull you out of the narrative, it's an immersive experience and we care about Noa and his clan. The film's central question is can apes and humans live in harmony, and the answer is left for the next sequel to answer. But since neither humans nor apes seem to be able to live in harmony with their own species, I'm guessing it's doubtful. I can say this: The two verbal humans—Mae and Trevathan (William H. Macy)—are both problematic in their own ways. I mustered scant sympathy for either. Go, good apes!

Anna We have a hero to root for in Noa, and while he may seem a timid underdog to begin with, his bravery and cleverness very well might be the key to the survival of his clan. Noa finding his own bravery was the heart of the film. I'm not writing the next film in this franchise's premiere date down on my calendar or anything, but Kingdom proved to be a satisfying enough adventure. Δ

Senior Staff Writer Glen Starkey and freelancer Anna Starkey write Split Screen. Comment at [email protected].


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