Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes Is Here, and It’s Seriously Stunning

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes Is Here, and It’s Seriously Stunning
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Planet of the Apes is one of the original sci-fi film franchises, and thanks to some cutting-edge VFX technology and a group of passionate filmmakers, it’s still going strong to this day. Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes (KOTPOTA) is the latest blockbuster movie set in this world, and we’ve got all the info on why this one is unlike any of the Apes films before it, including an interview with VFX supervisor Erik Winquist.

What is different about this Planet of the Apes film?

kingdom of the planet of the apes
Image: Disney

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is the fourth film in the new rebooted series of Planet of the Apes films. Given that the trilogy was capped off pretty nicely in War for the Planet of the Apes, you may be wondering why we need another one.

It’s a question we asked VFX Supervisor Erik Winquist, too. Winquist has been working in visual effects at New Zealand-based WETA for nearly twenty years and has overseen all the recent Planet of the Apes films. Even after working so intensively on three Apes films, Winquist was drawn back in by the promise of another one – specifically the unique world that was painted in the script.

“Being completely frank, I was a little uncertain whether I wanted to go back for yet another Apes film at the outset of this, but I read the script and I was on board pretty much immediately. It was a really fun ride,” Winquist told us over Zoom.

“They went places that I wasn’t expecting and I think the thing that grabbed my imagination was trying to depict a world that is many generations later, some hundreds of years after the Caesar trilogy. What does the world look like when there’s no humanity to maintain our infrastructure? That kind of thing.”

As Winquist alludes to, KOTPOTA is something of a new start for the series, despite continuing the story of the Caesar trilogy. After decades without human maintenance, the world is essentially unrecognisable, and apes have become the dominant species over humans. With a new tyrannical ape leader on the rise to build an all-mighty empire, it’s up to one young ape to go on a harrowing journey that will help determine the future of both species.

It sounds like an epic new direction for the franchise, and one that will undoubtedly pave the way for future apes movies to come.

If you want a taste of what’s to come, here’s the trailer:

Where was KOTPOTA filmed?

The brand new post-apocalyptic world that Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes presents brought with it the opportunity for new filming locations – an opportunity that happened to bring the production to Australia’s shores.

“We were probably anywhere from like an hour to an hour and a half radius around Sydney, all throughout New South Wales. From the Blue Mountains down to like Wollongong, north of Sydney. I think the furthest that any photography went was right up towards the northern boundary border of New South Wales for some helicopter work up there,” Winquist recounted.

Despite being set on the west coast of the USA, New South Wales became the stand-in for KOTPOTA’s futuristic natural world.

“The thing that was really cool is, our story takes place somewhere in California and I was curious how that was gonna play out. But, I’ve noticed it more now than I ever had noticed it before, just how much eucalyptus is all throughout Southern California… the last couple of instalments of these films were in the frigid Canadian winter or in the rainforest. So [this] was really a nice change to the whole,” Winquist added.

Something remarkable about Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is just how much of it was able to be completed on location. Advancements in motion-capture technology allowed even the ape actors to film their scenes on location rather than on a soundstage, taking full advantage of Australia’s natural landscape. Director Wes Ball has even teased that you won’t be able to pick which the wholly CGI locations from the real ones.

Let’s talk about the spectacular visual effects

kingdom of the planet of the apes
Image: Disney

The visual effects of the Planet of the Apes films have always been the franchise’s greatest achievement. Even in just the seven years since War for the Planet of the Apes was released, technology has come a long way and allowed Winquist and his team to do things that would previously have seemed impossible.

KOTPOTA presented a major challenge to the VFX team in that they had to pull off not just a new post-apocalyptic world, but also bring to life a cast of new characters to fill that world. Plus, it was a cast of talking characters due to the apes in this movie having progressed beyond the sign language of the previous films. Mapping this evolution was one of the achievements that Winquist was most proud of:

“It was getting a dozen brand new characters built from from scratch, essentially, within the same timeframe that we had done the previous movies where we’d have a 100 characters that needed minor upgrades instead of a whole built from scratch kind of thing,” he said.

“The other thing is that all of our characters are speaking characters. We’re saying that enough time has passed that apes are evolving. We need to somehow get from where we were at the end of the Caesar trilogy, to where we will be in the Charlton Heston timeline of the original franchise where they’re very eloquent and speaking like humans. So it’s just trying to find that space in the evolutionary line between those two films and making sure that [when] the characters are speaking, you believe that that voice is coming out of that space.”

Winquist added that there were some hefty action sequences the VFX department needed to pull off on KOTPOTA as well.

“[There are] some pretty spectacular effects requirements for this movie with water, where apes are wet and that kind of thing. Those are some of the standout moments for me,” he said.

In what order should you watch the Planet of the Apes films?

kingdom of the planet of the apes
Image: Disney

There are ten Planet of the Apes films to date, but the release order of the films is not the same as the timeline order within the movies. If you’re wondering how to watch the films in chronological order, here’s how to do it:

  1. Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
  2. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)
  3. War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)
  4. Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes (2024)
  5. Planet of the Apes (1968)
  6. Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)
  7. Escape From the Planet of the Apes (1971)
  8. Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)
  9. Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)

Tim Burton’s 2001 film Planet of the Apes is also one to consider here, but as it was a standalone reboot of the franchise it doesn’t really fit into any particular place on the timeline.

Where to watch all the Planet of the Apes movies

If you’d like to catch up on the earlier Planet of the Apes movies, you can find them all streaming on Disney+ in Australia.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes: Cast and characters

kingdom of the planet of the apes
Image: Disney

With KOTPOTA being a sequel set far in the future, don’t expect to see any of the same characters from the previous films. Instead, we’re introduced to Owen Teague as Noa, a young ape who sets out to save his clan. Travis Jeffery (Anaya) and Lydia Peckham (Soona) play two of Noa’s ape clanmates, while Kevin Durand stars as the tyrannical Proximus Caesar. Freya Allen represents the human contingent as Mae and Dichen Lachman, Eka Darville, Peter Macon and William H. Macy also have roles in the film.

Maze Runner director Wes Ball is the director of KOTPOTA, taking over the franchise from Matt Reeves.

Is Caesar in Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes?

Caesar was the beloved protagonist of the prequel trilogy of Planet of the Apes films, played by mo-cap master Andy Serkis. However, as mentioned, KOTPOTA is set many generations after Caesar’s time so he won’t be appearing in this movie. That being said, Caesar’s impact is still very clear in the new film and there are many references to him.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes: Release date in Australia

Starting with the most important info, when watch this new film?

In Australia, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is May 9, meaning it is now out in cinemas. What are you waiting for?!

Lead Image Credit: Disney


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