KINGDOM OF THE PLANET OF THE APES – Review by Susan Granger

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Opening with a brief funereal prologue, mourning the death of the peaceful prophet known as Caesar (Andy Serkis), this sci-fi fantasy skips ahead to “many generations later” – as primates rose to power after a virus deprived humans of their intellect and ability to speak.

Deep in the jungle, Noa (Owen Teague) is coming of age. His chimpanzee clan breeds eagles and is renowned for their falconry expertise. One day – as he and his friends are climbing steep cliffs, searching for coveted eagle eggs – his peaceful village is invaded by armored ape horsemen who capture his family and friends.

Determined to find and free them, daring Noa ventures into forbidden coastal territory where he’s befriended by wise old orangutan Raka (Peter Macon), a faithful follower of now-mythic Caesar with his “ape not kill ape” legacy, and Mae (Freya Allan), a mysteriously mercurial human female on a mission.

Their nemesis is Proximus Caesar (Kevin Durand), the dominating bonobo King who is determined to break down the huge iron door of an ancient seaside fortress to retrieve hidden treasure locked inside

Chanting “Apes together strong,” he’s counseled by treacherous, opportunistic Trevathan (William H. Macy), a scholarly human scavenger.

Cleverly scripted by Josh Friedman (Avatar: The Way of Water) with ape-verse producers Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver, it’s adroitly directed by Wes Ball (The Maze Runner), utilizing Peter Jackson’s Weta FX Company’s now-perfected performance-capture technology to ‘humanize’ simian characters as the thought-provoking, suspenseful plot progresses.

Kudos also to cinematographer Gyula Pados, special consultant Andy Serkis and Daniel T. Dorrance’s imaginatively crafted production design, filled with evocative, emotional details referencing previous productions, harking back to Charlton Heston’s launch of the franchise back in 1968.

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is an epic, adventurous 8, playing in theaters.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.