Director drew inspiration from Akira Kurosawa for Kingdom Of The Planet Of The Apes, Latest Movies News - The New Paper

Director drew inspiration from Akira Kurosawa for Kingdom Of The Planet Of The Apes

LOS ANGELES – The fourth film in the Planet Of The Apes reboot franchise (2011 to present), Kingdom Of The Planet Of The Apes imagines a future where apes are the dominant species and humans live in the shadows.

Opening in Singapore cinemas on May 9, the movie follows Noa, a naive young chimpanzee who is a part of this new civilisation, but who starts to question everything he has been taught about the past.

Noa – animated through motion capture by Owen Teague, a 25-year-old American actor known for the horror film It (2017) – is accompanied on his journey of discovery by a young woman named Mae.

Played by 22-year-old English actress Freya Allan – star of the fantasy series The Witcher (2019 to now) – she is one of the last humans, who now live a primitive, feral existence.

At a recent press day in Los Angeles, American director Wes Ball tells The Straits Times he drew inspiration from the late Japanese film-maker Akira Kurosawa to tell this tale, which is set 300 years after the events of War For The Planet Of The Apes (2017).

That was the previous instalment in a franchise that began with the 1963 French novel Planet Of The Apes and the iconic 1968 American film of the same name starring Charlton Heston.

“It’s amazing that this franchise has lasted 50-plus years, with 10 movies as well as television shows, comics and animated series,” says Ball, who directed the Maze Runner trilogy of dystopian science-fiction films (2014 to 2018).

“I think it’s because we see ourselves in these apes, so these stories allow us to hold up a mirror to ourselves.

“Then there’s the spectacle side of things,” adds Ball, 43.

“That 1968 movie was the best make-up effects you’d ever seen, and nowadays, these films are the best visual effects you’ve ever seen.

“Couple those things and you have a really immersive world you can escape to and ponder interesting ideas, but also be entertained.”

Ball collaborated on the story with Josh Friedman, a 57-year-old American screenwriter who also wrote sci-fi blockbusters Avatar: The Way Of Water (2022) and War Of The Worlds (2005).

In their early discussions, they realised they wanted to emulate Kurosawa, who directed influential classics such as Seven Samurai (1954) and Rashomon (1950).

“After I gave Josh this two-hour pitch of what I thought the movie could become, he went, ‘Ah, you want to make a Kurosawa movie.’

“I think what he meant was that those are movies about ideas, but also genre movies and entertainment pieces,” Ball says.

The film-maker also devoured some of the theories about lost civilisations that existed thousands of years ago and were advanced but ultimately collapsed.

“I can’t say I subscribe to it, but it’s a fascinating idea,” he says.

Kingdom Of The Planet Of The Apes suggests that today’s civilisation could eventually fall too and humans, be replaced as the dominant lifeform.

“That original Planet Of The Apes movie tells us it’s possible,” Ball says.

In that movie, astronauts land on a strange planet populated by chimps, orang utans and gorillas – and later realise it is Earth, but mankind has been wiped out.

Ball credits American screenwriting duo Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, who launched the reboot franchise with 2011’s Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, followed by 2014’s Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, for coming up with a plausible scenario for how this might occur.

“I thought it was a brilliant idea that it was a man-made virus, and our own hubris that brought us to our knees.

“And there’s a lot of intelligence with apes,” he adds.

“It’s not too big of a jump to feel like some evolutionary push could lead to an explosion of intelligence very similar to what happened in human history.

“So can human beings hold it together and not destroy this earth? We’ll see what happens,” Ball says.

  • Kingdom Of The Planet Of The Apes opens in Singapore cinemas on May 9.