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Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is welcome return to the franchise

Acclaimed director Wes Ball successfully adapted the dystopian young adult series "The Maze Runner," bringing his talents to another science fiction franchise in "Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes" from 20th Century Studios. The film's screenplay, penned by Josh Friedman, is set 300 years after the previous movie, "War for the Planet of the Apes."

The film's unique storyline unfolds as ape civilizations, led by the king Proximus Caesar (Kevin Durand), emerge from the oasis, while humans regress into a feral, primitive state. The narrative takes a twist when Proximus, armed with weapons forged from lost human technologies, perverts Caesar's teachings to enslave other clans. This sets the stage for the chimpanzee hunter Noa (Owen Teague) to embark on a harrowing journey alongside a human girl named Mae (Freya Allan), in a bid to determine the future for apes and humans alike.

The film's character development is a standout feature, starting with a poignant reminder of the fate that befell Caesar in the previous trilogy. Our attention then shifts to Noa, the newly introduced protagonist, and his fellow ape companions, Soona (Lydia Peckham) and Anaya (Travis Jeffery), who are undergoing a rite of passage. However, their joy is short-lived as they encounter Proximus (Kevin Durand), an ape who has proclaimed himself the king and distorted Caesar's teachings to subjugate others.

I want to express my admiration for the exceptional work done by the scriptwriters and director Wes Ball in crafting the story arc for Noa and his journey. The way they stripped away everything that Noa holds dear creates a unique and captivating second half of the story.  In the story's latter half, Noa meets Raka, a wise orangutan played by Peter Macon, who is delighted to have the company.

The relationship between Noa and Raka is one of the story's highlights, as both characters share their experiences and learn from each other. Raka's wisdom, combined with Noa's determination, makes for a compelling and engaging duo that keeps us hooked till the end. Moreover, the introduction of Mae, played by Freya Allen, adds another layer of depth to the story.

Mae is a human on a quest to find her kind, and her appearance stuns Noa and Raka. Her presence in the story contrasts with the animal characters and adds a new dimension to the narrative. Regarding our big bad, Kevin Durand brings what one would expect to the role of Poximus, and his motion capture work is one for the ages.

While the film may not cater to viewers seeking non-stop action, it excels in its world-building, well-crafted character arcs, and exceptional performances. Fans of the 'Planet of the Apes' franchise, who appreciate these aspects, will find this film a worthwhile watch.

Final Grade: B+

"Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes" is in theaters now

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