by Lash

It all began in 2011 with the Rise of the Planet of the Apes. What started off innocently enough as research on a cure for Alzheimer’s disease quickly spirals into a dark journey for Caesar, the chimpanzee who gains human-like intelligence and emotions from an experimental drug. The end of the movie gives us a hint of the trouble that would threaten humanity. The sequel, a bleak Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, set a decade later, sees the Apes forming an army in the mountains, facing off the surviving humans from the deadly Simian Flu drug released at the end of the first movie, who are trapped in the city. A fragile peace formed between both camps falls through, and at the end, both sides promise war. Two years later, the third movie in this Apes saga returns with Caesar, now the leader of the war-seeking intelligent apes, on the brink of starting a war with the humans. Here are five things you need to know about War for the Planet of the Apes before you catch the movie.

There Will Be War
It’s written all over the title. The movie opens with a war scene between the humans and the apes. The humans are out for blood and on the hunt for Caesar. You eliminate the leader, you destroy the army.  But wait. Not all apes are fighting against the humans. Some of them have turned on Caesar and joined the Humans camp.

Inspired by Apocalypse Now
With war as a central theme, the production team studied many war movies and westerns as preparation. Director Mark Reeves shot the movie in 65 mm to follow closely to the kind of widescreen experience often seen in the epic movies of decades past. The key movie that strikes a chord was Apocalypse Now. The character of Colonel Kurtz, played by Woody Harrelson, is based on Marlon Brando’s crazed character in the Francis Ford Coppola classic.

Apes Galore
This movie is a challenge for the visual effects team, who had the job of creating the countless apes in the war scene. “The sheer volume by which the apes are in the film is incredibly challenging,” shares visual effects producer Ryan Stafford. “Rise was maybe 30% or so apes in the movie. Dawn was probably 60 or 70%. This is like 95%, and so it is just the sheer volume. Every day we show up on set, it is apes, apes, apes, apes, and that is an incredibly time-consuming process.” And do listen out for the sounds made by the apes. They are reportedly the grunts and howls made by the actors who play the apes, without any digital augmentation.

It’s No Easy Being an Ape
Speaking of apes, there are 15 key ape characters in the film and all their mannerisms are carried out by actors, led by Andy Serkis. These actors are being put in an “ape camp”, where they undergo training on how to behave like an ape, and they have to do so wearing grey latex foam performance capture suits. When the cameras roll, the dots on the suit help the cameras track and record the actors’ movements. These performers also have to wear a lightweight camera on their heads that capture the dots on the face to record down every single expression, for adding in of the apes’ graphics in post-production. Director Mark Reeves joked the movie is really “Planet of the Guys in Their Tight Suits with the Dots on Their Faces."

A fourth movie is on the cards
Back in 2016, there was already a plan set in place for a fourth instalment. The question is, who will survive the carnage in this movie and live to tell in the next?