Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes: Ending Explained (In Detail)

How does Noa find his way back to his clan? Do he and Mae agree to do Proximus’ bidding?
Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes: Ending Explained (In Detail)

When Pierre Boulle’s novel La Planète des singes (1963) became successful in both the original French and in translations, Hollywood came calling. 20th Century Fox bagged the rights and brought on board Charleton Heston as the lead actor and Franklin J. Shaffner as the director of the enterprise that became Planet of the Apes (1968). That film spawned four sequels, and the franchise raked in $81.8 million against a total budget of $14.6 million. Naturally, Fox wanted to bring back the franchise as soon as possible, and had Tim Burton direct a remake of the 1968 film in 2001. While successful, it didn’t garner enough momentum for a sequel, and so a reboot was launched in 2011. That film – Rise of the Planet of the Apes – was a monstrous success for all the right reasons, following the saga of the ape Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his interactions with humans. 

The (Back) Story

The Wes Ball film Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is set three centuries after Caesar’s demise. The apes have divvied themselves into numerous clans, and the humans have gone to seed, turning wild. The protagonist of this story is Noa (Owen Teague), a chimpanzee who hails from a clan that practices falconry. One day, whilst looking for an egg that he needs to use in a coming-of-age ceremony, Noa is tailed by a human scavenger and a scuffle ensues between them in which the egg breaks. Noa, while searching for a replacement, spies a group of ape raiders using electronic weapons. The raiders’ target is his village, and in the battle that follows, the raider leader Sylva (Eka Darville) kills Noa’s father and throws him from a height.

When Noa comes to, he realises that his entire clan has been abducted. He lays his father to rest and sets off to rescue his clan. Early on in his travels, he meets an orangutan named Raka (Peter Macon), who enlightens him about Caesar and his teachings. They take under their wing the same human scavenger who had clashed with Noa; Raka names her Nova (Freya Allen).

Towards Danger

Soon, the trio encounter a group of feral humans, which is when Sylva’s raiders return. Raka and Noa save Nova, who they discover capable of speech. She reveals to them her actual name – Mae – and tells them that Noa’s clan were taken to a sea-facing settlement. While travelling to the settlement, the trio are attacked by Sylva. In a bid to save Mae, Raka gets washed away by the rapids beneath the bridge they are crossing, and the two survivors are taken away to the apes’ settlement.

Noa is reunited with his clan, and discovers that his is one of many clans imprisoned by the self-proclaimed King of the Apes – Proximus Caesar (Kevin Durand), who has all the clans working hard to open an old human vault so he can access the technology it conceals. For his greater enlightenment, Proximus has on call a human called Trevathan (William H. Macy), who is teaching the King of the Apes about the world, especially Ancient Rome. Proximus believes that Noa’s intelligence can help open the vault, and advises him to stay away from Mae, who is said to have ulterior motives. When confronted by Noa, Mae reveals that she knows of a hidden entrance to the vault, and that inside it there is a book that could restore the humans’ ability to speak. Noa decides to help her, hoping that in doing so, he is also able to defeat Proximus and take his clan back home. The duo, aided by Noa’s friends Anaya (Travis Jeffrey) and Soona (Lydia Peckham), plant explosives around the settlement. They are caught in the act by Trevathan but before he can report them to Proximus, Mae kills him.

The Battle

The group infiltrate the vault, which they soon realise is a military bunker with a plethora of weapons and Mae’s book, which happens to be a key for a satellite. They also find books that attest to the fact that humans were once the master species.

As the group leaves the bunker, Proximus and his apes confront them. When one of the underlings threatens to kill Soona, Mae kills him first. When Proximus offers her a deal, she refuses, instead triggering the explosives and causing water to breach the bunker with Proximus’ apes inside. She then flees while the apes make for higher ground. Noa drowns Sylva when the latter tries to take him out of action, and escapes with his clan, only to be confronted by Proximus again. The clan and Noa recall their original practices and summon the eagles, who attack Proximus, sending him to his death off a cliff.

Noa and Mae meet up once his clan is back in their former home, and she makes a case for humans to be given another chance. However, Noa is not convinced apes and humans can coexist peacefully.

The ending shows Mae travelling to a human settlement, where she delivers the key she found in the vault, allowing the reactivation of the satellites and establishment of contact with humans based elsewhere.

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