5 Best Planet of the Apes Movies You Need to Watch Before Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes

A comprehensive list to refresh on the Planet of the Apes storyline ahead of the new movie.

planet of the apes

SUMMARY

  • The tenth movie in the franchise, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes expands on the reboot storyline.
  • It is set about 300 years after War for the Planet of the Apes.
  • The lore will touch and reflect on all storylines set before the movie.
Show More
Featured Video

Grossing over $2 billion worldwide since its inception in 1968, the Planet of the Apes franchise has turned out to be one of the most successful ones in Hollywood. Based on French author Pierre Boulle’s 1963 novel La Planète des singes, the title has released a total of nine movies, expanding its lore, with a tenth one, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes starring The Witcher actress Freya Allan in a leading role and set some 300 years after the events of the last outing.

Advertisement

A rough outline of all the movies involves humans, intelligent apes, and some sort of conflict. However, the dystopian setting where mankind comes down on its knees to face a brutal twist of fate sets the narrative in different orders for the different iterations. Someone who has just embarked on watching, or one who wishes to refresh their memory of the events of the films, need not watch all nine of them. Rather, here are the top five picks that should do the trick.

1. Planet of the Apes (1968)

Directed by Franklin J. Schaffner, Planet of the Apes marked the birth of the franchise as well as a monumental moment in science fiction filming, sealing its status as a classic. Unlike its 21st-century reboot, the movie followed a spaceship crash-landing on a desolate planet, only to find out that apes ran supreme in that world and humans stood as primitive species, a reality opposite to Earth’s.

Advertisement
Screengrab for Planet of the Apes (1968)
Screengrab from Planet of the Apes (1968)

The mind-numbing twist attracted several viewers to the theater screens who could not resist exploring the twisted narrative. Thereafter, the plot followed the discovery of an ape society where apes had evolved to possess human-like intelligence and speech, along with power dynamics and prejudices. However, the biggest turning point came in its climax, where the planet was none other but a future Earth, devastated by human conflict and neglect.

Planet of the Apes is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.

2. Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971)

The third installment in the original franchise, Escape from the Planet of the Apes acted as a sequel, a prequel, and a reboot, all at once. A pivotal achievement for a movie of its time, the plot narrative tackled profound moral questions, forcing characters and audiences to question their beliefs and prejudices. It continued with previous characters and had the chimpanzees Cornelius, Zira, and Dr. Milo salvage and repair the crash-landed spaceship.

Advertisement
A still from Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971)
A still from Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971)

The story revolved around a time just before Earth’s destruction and a team of humans and apes that worked together to escape it. However, a shockwave from the explosion sent the ship through a time warp, bringing all of them back to Earth in 1973. Ironically, the apes find themselves transported to the Los Angeles Zoo, where they are observed by friendly scientists, where they declare humanity’s apocalyptic destiny.

Escape From the Planet of the Apes is available to stream on Hulu and Disney+.

3. Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

A complete reboot of the Planet of the Apes franchise, the new project directed by Rupert Wyatt, set its chain of events on real-time Earth instead of a dystopian and isolated planet. It served to move forward the narrative involving a chimpanzee named Caesar, played by Andy Serkis. A viral-based drug ALZ-112 being tested as a cure for Alzheimer’s enhances the ape’s intelligence and follows his quest to free his kind from the cruelty of mankind.

Advertisement
Caesar from Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
Caesar from Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

After being separated from his caretaker and project scientist, Will Rodman, and imprisoned in a sanctuary at San Bruno, Caesar witnesses acts of grave injustice and disrespect towards his fellow ape inmates by human overseers of the place. After an escape, he steals the same drug and provides it to the other apes, leading to an uprising against humanity.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is available to stream on Peacock Premium and Fubo and for rent on Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, and Vudu.

4. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

Set close to ten years after the end of the first movie, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes continued that narrative as it explored a post-apocalyptic world where human survivors battle to stay alive after a deadly pandemic. In the meantime, Caesar continued expanding his control over the ape community while also trying to upskill them in warfare and preparing them for any possible outcome.

Advertisement
Caesar overlooking the community in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)
Caesar overlooking the community in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

Tensions play high throughout, where a fragile peace between humanity and the apes stands at risk owing to mistrust. The brilliant voice and motion capture by Andy Serkis for Caesar and the directorial skills of Matt Reeves brought forth a gripping narrative as both sides lay on the verge of engaging in an all-out war for dominance on the planet.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is available to stream on Hulu, Max, and the Max Amazon Channel and for rent on Apple TV, Google Play Movies, and Vudu.

5. War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)

The final movie in the reboot trilogy, War for the Planet of the Apes, takes place roughly two years after the events of the second movie. The story dives into a deep conflict between humanity and the apes with Caesar taking the lead against an army of humans led by a ruthless colonel. However, after suffering unimaginable losses, the leader of the apes wrestles with his darker instincts and begins a quest to avenge his kind while making harsh decisions.

Advertisement
A still from War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)
A still from War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)

Again directed by Matt Reeves, the iteration earned over $490 million at the global box office. Additionally, it found widespread acclaim for its emotional and morally conflicting storyline, which made it resonate well with the audience. The end of the flick is directly connected with the upcoming 2024 movie, which will alter the Earth’s current state with apes as the dominant species and humans as a reclusive and primitive tribe.

War for the Planet of the Apes is available to stream on Hulu, Max, Max Amazon Channel, TNT, TBS, and tru TV and for rent on Fandango at Home and Amazon Prime Video.

 

Advertisement

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is set to release on May 8, 2024.

Avatar

Written by Imteshal Karim

Articles Published: 120

Bearing a penchant for writing in multiple forms, I love telling a good story and hope to tell impactful ones about the fandom's side of the Entertainment industry. I found the movie of my life in Christopher Nolan's 2014' s Interstellar, which fascinated me with the perfect blend of science and cinema, leaving me curious about Hollywood. In my leisure time, you will find me indulging in photography, gardening, and cycling.