Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes

Noa, played by Owen Teague, Freya Allan as Nova, and Raka, played by Peter Macon, appear in a scene from the movie "Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes." The OSV News classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may not be suitable for children. (OSV News photo/20th Century Studios)

NEW YORK (OSV News) – Back in the early 1960s, French author Pierre Boulle published a novel about a world in which civilized simians dominated degenerate humans. When his book was brought to the big screen in 1968’s “Planet of the Apes,” starring Charlton Heston, the film was sufficiently successful to give rise, over the decades, to numerous sequels.

2011 saw the arrival of a reboot and the latest addition to the franchise, “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” (20th Century), is — to some extent, at least — the third successor to that movie. Although it’s presented as a stand-alone feature, the plot of director Wes Ball’s sci-fi action adventure is intertwined with some earlier strands of the relaunched story.

The principal connection is to the primates’ legendary leader, Caesar (played by Andy Serkis in the previous three chapters) whose funeral we witness in an early flashback. While the main action of “Kingdom” is set generations after peaceable Caesar’s demise, the storyline follows a struggle for control of his legacy.

The realm of the title is ruled by the long-ago commander’s self-declared heir, power-hungry bonobo Proximus Caesar (Kevin Durand). But his tyrannical style with his own species and his hatred of all things human are, of course, completely at variance with his namesake’s actual outlook.

A trio of strangers eventually teams up to oppose Proximus. The first and most important of these is a chimpanzee called Noa (Owen Teague).

Noa’s sheltered world is turned upside down when the attack of a raiding party loyal to Proximus leaves his beloved father dead and the surviving members of his clan kidnapped into slavery. Determined to liberate them, he sets off on a quest on which he eventually encounters — and comes under the influence of — sagacious orangutan Raka (Peter Macon).

Raka abides by Caesar’s genuine teachings about unity and tolerance. This attitude comes in handy since the other key figure who wants to bring Proximus down turns out to be a human lass, Nova (Freya Allan). Her goal is to prevent Proximus from getting hold of some old but powerful technology.

The values promoted in Josh Friedman’s script are certainly on target. And it’s easy to root for youthful Noa and his allies. Yet the pace is slow and there’s a lumbering feel to the proceedings.

Although spectacle ultimately outpaces substance, objectionable content is kept to a minimum. As a result, “Kingdom” is probably acceptable for older adolescents.

The film contains much stylized combat violence and fleeting crude language. The OSV News classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

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