‘Planet Of The Apes’ Trilogy Recap Before Watching ‘Kingdom Of The Planet Of The Apes’

When it comes to movies, remaking acclaimed movies to suit modern sensibilities has more often than not resulted in dumpster fires. It is rare to have an old classic bested or even followed up by a worthy remake, let alone an entire movie series being topped by its reboot. Back in 2011, Fox Studios had managed to ace this seemingly impossible task by rebooting their 1970s Planet of the Apes pentalogy to create the new trilogy series. The strong political undertone of the Cold War era of the original movie series found its spiritual successor in themes of racial (species) discrimination, questions pertaining to animal rights, and criticism of human imperialism in the new trilogy series, which also justified the core message of Pierre Boulle’s novel of the same name that inspired the original series in the first place. 


The rebooted Planet of the Apes trilogy peaked with the final two movies of the series directed by Matt Reeves, which not only pushed the boundary of the viewer’s understanding regarding the essence of non-human humanity but also carved up a fairly original mythos for an existing lore, which is quite a difficult task these days. While the reboot trilogy had a completed arc with a definitive beginning and end, the decision to continue the franchise was made later, and as a result, the upcoming Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes will initiate another new series. With established continuity being an integral factor in the upcoming venture, let us take a brief look at the rebooted trilogy, which will allow viewers to connect in a better way.

Spoilers Ahead


The Rise of Caesar and the Apes

The first movie of the rebooted series, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, chronicled the chimpanzee Caesar gaining higher intelligence and liberating the great apes near San Francisco from manmade captivity to begin a new civilization. Working for the pharma conglomerate Gen-Sys, chemist Will Rodman used an experimental viral drug, AZ-112, to test on chimpanzees in order to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. A female chimpanzee named Bright Eyes gained higher intelligence. However, as Bright Eyes goes on a rampage to protect her newborn son, she gets shot to death and the rest of her chimpanzee family gets euthanized by the authorities. Will rears up her son, whom he names Caesar, at his home and is surprised to realize that Caesar has inherited intelligence from his mother. In a very short amount of time, Caesar shows exceptional intellectual brilliance but gets taken away by animal control after trying to save Will’s father, who too is a patient with Alzheimer’s. In captivity, Caesar is bullied by an alpha chimp, Rocket, and gets brutalized by a security guard, Dodge Landon. 

Meanwhile, Gen-Sys creates AZ-113, an even more powerful version of the viral drug, and despite it showing troubling symptoms in human subjects, Will’s superior, Steven Jacobs, insists on continuing testing, leading to Will quitting his job. On the other hand, Caesar establishes himself as alpha by beating Rocket, and he gains the assistance of Buck the gorilla and Maurice the orangutan. As Caesar continues to learn about the horrors of human exploitation of his species and other creatures, he grows more disillusioned, and later he decides to share his gift of intelligence with fellow apes by stealing AZ-113 samples and exposing his ape friends to it. As Dodge returns to threaten Caesar, the mighty ape asserts his dominance and, in a most shocking moment, reveals that he has learned to speak like humans. Neutralizing the threat Dodge posed, Caesar frees his fellow apes, adding more to their number by freeing captive apes in San Francisco Zoo as well. The entire group heads towards Redwood Forest. Koba, a bonobo who was experimented upon by humans and was exposed to AZ-113 as well, joins Caesar’s group. At the end, a climactic battle breaks out between police, SWAT teams, and Caesar-led chimp troops, which ends with authorities being pushed back. Buck sacrifices his life to save Caesar, and Koba’s decision to take Jacobs’ life forebodes his dark turn. Will tries his best to convince Caesar to return to his home, but in human speech, Caesar informs him that he is with his people as he settles in Redwood Forest with fellow apes. The final moment of the movie shows AZ-113 causing a severe pandemic situation across the world, a vital plot point that establishes the entire mythos from thereon. 


Battle for Dominance: Humans vs. Apes

In the second movie of the series, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the pandemic caused by AZ-113, also known as ‘Simian Flu,’ is revealed to have cut down the human population of the world drastically and granted intelligence to great apes across the world simultaneously. Caesar has found a family with his wife Cornelia, son Blue Eyes, comrades Maurice, Luca, Rocket, and Koba, and with the rest of the fellow apes. An isolated human community residing near San Francisco all of a sudden comes into close contact with Caesar’s group while searching for a way to reach a nearby hydroelectric dam, and one of the gunners of the group injures Rocket’s son, Ash. Just as it seems that the situation is going to get ugly, a kind, pragmatic member of the human community, Malcolm, tries to defuse the tension, and an infuriated Caesar shows mercy, allowing the humans to return to their base. Koba, a victim of human abuse, is reasonably highly skeptical towards humans and tries to goad Caesar into going to war with them. 

Caesar visits the human settlement with his ape cavalry to warn them of the consequences if they plan to bring harm to the ape community. Malcolm, in an effort to create a mutually beneficial relationship with apes, goes with his family to the ape community and manages to convince Caesar to let them access the hydroelectric dam. The bond between Malcolm’s family and Caesar’s grows stronger as Malcolm’s wife helps Cornelia deliver her and Caesar’s second son, Cornelius. Koba, dissatisfied with Caesar’s changed demeanor, suspects his past with humans (Will Rodman and his family) to be the reason for going easy on them, and as he discovers that the chief of the human community, Dreyfus, is preparing for an assault on the apes, he loathes Caesar’s love for humans. A battle ensues between Caesar and Koba, and Caesar shows Koba mercy by letting him live. 


Things go south pretty fast as Koba initiates a brutal plan to seize power by secretly killing Caesar, blames humans for the incident, and provokes them to attack the human settlement. Taking the surviving humans and Caesar’s loyalists as captives, Koba starts his reign of terror by subjugating humans – and even kills Ash for not obeying his command to kill an unarmed human. Caesar is revealed to be alive as Malcolm and his family take him to safety and treat him, and with the assistance of his son, Blue Eyes, Caesar returns to thwart Koba’s dominance. Dreyfus is revealed to have called the military to initiate an assault on the apes, and he meets his end while trying to enact a heinous attack on Caesar’s community. As Caesar regains his position as leader by defeating Koba, he decides not to show him mercy by letting him die. Preparing for the upcoming war with humanity, Caesar asks Malcolm to take his family to safety. 

The Final Frontier: A World of Apes

The final movie of the trilogy, War for the Planet of the Apes, brings the conflict between humans and great apes to an end in a moving, traumatic, and grand spectacle. As a leader, Caesar becomes a legendary savior of the ape kind. The Simian Flu has mutated into a new form, and in a form of poetic justice, it devolves the infected humans and renders them mute. One of the last existing military factions of the world, ‘Alpha-Omega,’ led by a dictatorial chief known only as ‘The Colonel,’ has been on the search for Caesar in an effort to wreck the ape community, even since the battle between Dreyfus’ community and Caesar’s clan took place. The movie also introduces some intelligent human loyalist apes, the chief of whom is Red, a former associate of Koba who decided to join Alpha-Omega.


With the hopes of finding a new safe haven for the ape community, known as Oasis, Caesar and his clan decide to leave their settlement. However, the night before their departure, the Colonel launches a surgical strike on Caesar’s home, which kills his wife Cornelia and Blue Eyes. An aggrieved, furious Caesar decides to go down a path of vengeance. However, throughout the course of the movie, Caesar realizes the error in his ways of acting like a human would, and through his sordid experience, he realizes the importance of choosing the better path. He and Maurice come across Nova, the mute daughter of deceased military personnel, and decide to take her along with them. 

Caesar and his companions get caught by the Colonel’s troops, and they are brought to an ape concentration camp-like settlement. As the Colonel confronts Caesar, it is revealed that Alpha-Omega is itself in a war with the remaining military force of the world, due to the Colonel’s extremist methods. The Colonel tries to break the morale of the captive apes by demeaning Caesar, and he forces the apes into servitude to teach Caesar a lesson. Maurice and Caesar’s surviving companions initiate an escape plan using a subterranean tunnel. Ultimately, Nova’s doll, which the Colonel had seized in suspicion, ends up infecting him, and Caesar, finally confronting the Colonel, decides to leave him to his fate. 


The military eventually surrounds the Colonel’s camp and launches a vicious assault, and apes run the risk of getting caught in the crossfire. As Caesar gets grievously injured while battling the Alpha-Omega militia, Red, the human loyalist gorilla, uses his better judgment to help his fellow apes. By sacrificing himself, Red allows Caesar to cause a fuel-tank destruction massive enough to take out both the militia and the invading military in a horrid avalanche. Maurice, Caesar, and the rest of the apes, along with Nova, manage to survive at the end by climbing the trees. 

Finally, Caesar’s clan and the freed apes reach the Oasis, the tranquil safe haven for apes, and Caesar meets his end as he succumbs to his wounds. Knowing the apes to be finally free and secure, Caesar breathes his last in Maurice’s arms, who informs him in his final moments that Cornelius, Caesar’s youngest son and only surviving family member, will know of the legend of Caesar and the freed apes. 


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Siddhartha Das
Siddhartha Das
An avid fan and voracious reader of comic book literature, Siddhartha thinks the ideals accentuated in the superhero genre should be taken as lessons in real life also. A sucker for everything horror and different art styles, Siddhartha likes to spend his time reading subjects. He's always eager to learn more about world fauna, history, geography, crime fiction, sports, and cultures. He also wishes to abolish human egocentrism, which can make the world a better place.

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