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SPARK (PG) HH HHH A PLANET of apes goes [...].

SPARK (PG) HH HHH A PLANET of apes goes to war in writer-director Aaron Woodley's otherworldly computer-animated fable, which is second-hand in almost every respect including a flimsy plot that awkwardly melds The Lion King and Zootropolis with Ratchet And Clank.

A brief prologue relates the destruction of the planet Bana at the hands of his "eternal malevolency" Zhong (voiced by Alan C Peterson), who unleashes a space kraken with the power to create black holes. One swirling vortex sucks up half of Bana including Zhong's brother, the King.

A newborn called Spark (Jace Norman) is saved from oblivion by his self-sacrificing parents and the infant is spirited away to one broken shard of Bana by a robotic carer called Bananny (Susan Sarandon).

She raises Spark and two other orphans, a fox called Vix (Jessica Biel) and a warthog called Chunk (Rob DELEEUW), on this outlying wilderness. When Spark turns 13, he pleads with Vix and Chunk to let him accompany them on covert sorties to Bana to steal from Zhong. They refuse, so Spark steals their ship and makes a secret flight to what remains of his home planet, accompanied by cute cockroach Floyd.

Subsequently, Spark encounters the Queen (Hilary Swank) and becomes a pawn in a life-or-death battle involving Zhong's hulking henchwoman Koko (Athena Karkanis) and the former Captain of the Bana Royal Guard (Patrick Stewart), who tenderly informs our teenage hero, "You are officially lost in space, my boy".

Spark kindles familiarity, and ultimately boredom, as the impetuous lead character learns to channel youthful exuberance and realise his heroic destiny.

Gags miss more targets than they hit and a quartet of squeaking space cockroaches, which become Spark's allies in adversity, owe much to the Minions from Despicable Me.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:May 26, 2017
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