Caesar the ape scowls in 'War for the Planet of the Apes'.
(20th Century Studios)

Post-Apocalyptic Societies & Existential Quandaries: 10 Great Movies Like ‘The Planet of the Apes’

So ya like Planet of the Apes? Like watching them eat bananas and form complex societies? Have morals and political struggles and existential questions? Bury the Statue of Liberty in the sand? Yeah, me too. Here are 10 more movies that hit some of those same Apes-y points.

Recommended Videos

Children of Men (2006)

Clare-Hope Ashitey and Clive Owen in Children of Men
(Universal)

Children of Men is a film not for the faint of heart. There aren’t any apes, but there sure are a lot of baser animal instincts on display. Oh and cows as a metaphor for birth or something. Imagine a world where there are no children. Sounds great right? I thought so too, until I realized it means the death of the human race. After a mass infertility crisis, humans aren’t able to have babies. Society is collapsing out of despair. Until one day a mild-mannered bureaucrat becomes the unlikely guardian of perhaps the world’s only pregnant woman. He has to protect her from terrorist cells the totalitarian forces of a decaying world. Some people have all the luck.

Fantastic Planet

A giant blue humanoid alien holds a human in its hand in "Fantastic Planet"
(Argos Films)

Also known as La Planète Sauvage, this French animated film is about a planet full of giant freaky blue alien people called the Draags who have captured humans and brought them back to their home planet. Thinking that humans are nothing but animals, the Draags allow a few lucky humans to live as pets while the rest are culled and forced to live in the alien wilderness. What a Draag. One such human pet breaks free of her bondage and lives with other humans in the woods while attempting to avoid extermination from Drags who think them to be nothing but pests. A film about recognizing the rights of different intelligent species? Sounds pretty Planet of the Apes to me.

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Tom Hardy in Mad Max: Fury Road
(Warner Bros. Pictures)

Primitive and warlike societies duking it out for survival in a post-apocalyptic world? Mad Max: Fury Road doesn’t even need apes. These human beings are feral enough. When the titular protagonist is captured by a ruthless desert warlord, he is wrapped up a quest to liberate the poor, thirsty saps under the guy’s rule. Loved the action of Planet of the Apes but wish there was less CGI? You’re in luck. Most of the stunts in this movie (including the dudes jumping from moving cars throwing exploding spears at one another) are REAL.

28 Days Later (2002)

Cillian Murphy as Jim in '28 Days Later'
(Searchlight Pictures)

A devastating virus has leveled humanity and now the surviving population has to get by using their most savage of instincts. Sounds pretty Apes to me. A young man awakens in a ruined hospital to find that the world has been infected with a chimpanzee-born virus that causes people to become hyper-violent monsters! Kinda gives apes a bad name. Now the young survivor must do exactly that, all the while attempting to find a safe haven. Seeking shelter in the violent apocalypse is basically the whole plot of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

The Road (2009)

A father and son push a shopping cart down a desolate road in "The Road"
(Dimension Films)

Warning: this movie is ROUGH. There are apocalypse movies, and then there’s The Road. Inspired by Cormac McCarthy’s novel of the same name, The Road follows a father and son who are trying to survive on a dying planet. The earth is blasted. Nothing can grow. The animals have all died. Ash blocks out the sun. People survive by finding pre-apocalypse supplies or just by eating each other. A father attempts to provide a moral compass for his son in a world where all the cardinal directions point to murder. Apes. Apes. Apes.

Prometheus (2012)

David (Michael Fassbender) holds a glowing orb in his hands in 'Prometheus'
(20th Century Studios)

Before Planet of the Apes was a modern sociopolitical apocalypse drama, it was a hard sci-fi romp. And that’s what Prometheus is! In the OG Planet of the Apes, an astronaut crash lands on what he believes to be a faraway planet ruled by an advanced alien ape civilization. The plot of Prometheus serves as a prequel to the Alien series, and shows a similar group of wayward spacefarers landing on a mysterious planet, contact with which will change the trajectory of the human species forevermore!

Arrival (2016)

Amy Adams in Arrival looking exhausted.

(Paramount)

Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the first of the modern Apes flicks, is steeped in the Earl Grey themes of communication. Namely, how two different yet equally intelligent species can talk to one another. That’s Arrival‘s whole steeze! A top linguist is recruited by the U.S. government to help translate the communications from two alien beings whose ship is currently floating in American airspace. If only it was as easy teaching them sign language… no these squid-like aliens use complicated circle-sentence symbols called logograms that can be interpreted in a— Oh, just see the movie.

King Kong (2005)

A giant ape faces off against a T-Rex while a woman stands trapped in between
(Universal Pictures)

So ya like watching Apes interact with regular people? What about GIANT apes interacting with regular sized people. That’s how King Kong do. Peter Jackson’s Old Hollywood blockbuster remake is about a group of filmmakers who journey to a mysterious island in order to make the greatest action picture ever shot! The price they must pay? Their lives! The island is crawling with dinosaurs! Monster fish! Giant people-eating bugs! And a HUGE Ape that rules over the whole shebang. Not convinced? Andy Serkis is in it, the dude who plays Caesar in Planet of the Apes. And guess what, he’s human in it!

War of the Worlds (2005)

A Tripod in War of the Worlds (Paramount)
(Paramount)

What happens when two intelligent species just can’t get along? They annihilate each other! Just like they do in Planet of the Apes! A modern adaptation of a story the once brought America’s population to hysterics, War of the Worlds revolves around a father and daughter fleeing an alien invasion. The superior Martian technology has the military might of Earth rendered useless, and now Tom Cruise and baby Dakota Fanning must do everything they can to survive! By doing one thing really well: running.

The Time Machine (1960)

A scientist prepares to pull a lever on a retro Time Machine in "The Time Machine"
(Loew’s)

Before H.G. Wells caused mass panic with the War of the Worlds, he was creating similarly freaky stories of intergalactic civilization on civilization violence. Those who were charmed by the quirky original Planet of the Apes film from the late ’60s are sure to love it. The film centers around a time traveler who journeys to Earth’s far future. The planet is now populated by two distinct intelligent species, the childlike Eloi and the fearsome Morlocks. The surface-dwelling Eloi are preyed upon by the subterranean Morlocks, and the time traveler must figure out a way to free the peaceful Eloi from their life of suffering!


The Mary Sue is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more
related content
Read Article One of the Best Sequels Ever Just Turned 20 Years Old
Ogre couple Shrek and Fiona hold hands in 'Shrek 2'.
Read Article ‘Star Wars’ Most Maligned Movie Still Slaps 25 Years Later
Shown from left: Natalie Portman (as Queen Padmé Amidala), Liam Neeson (as Qui-Gon Jinn), Jake Lloyd (as Anakin Skywalker), Ewan McGregor (as Obi-Wan Kenobi) all stand together.
Read Article One of ‘Mad Max’s Most Iconic Villains Is Returning in ‘Furiosa’
Immortan Joe stares down at the camera, surrounded by his sons and henchmen.
Read Article Chris Pratt, Star of ‘Garfield,’ Doesn’t Like Lasagna and the Internet Is Rightfully Mad
Chris Pratt spotted out in Los Angeles
Read Article Max’s Best Friend: The True Story Behind ‘The Road Warrior’s Most Loyal Companion
Mel Gibson in Mad Max: The Road Warrior
Related Content
Read Article One of the Best Sequels Ever Just Turned 20 Years Old
Ogre couple Shrek and Fiona hold hands in 'Shrek 2'.
Read Article ‘Star Wars’ Most Maligned Movie Still Slaps 25 Years Later
Shown from left: Natalie Portman (as Queen Padmé Amidala), Liam Neeson (as Qui-Gon Jinn), Jake Lloyd (as Anakin Skywalker), Ewan McGregor (as Obi-Wan Kenobi) all stand together.
Read Article One of ‘Mad Max’s Most Iconic Villains Is Returning in ‘Furiosa’
Immortan Joe stares down at the camera, surrounded by his sons and henchmen.
Read Article Chris Pratt, Star of ‘Garfield,’ Doesn’t Like Lasagna and the Internet Is Rightfully Mad
Chris Pratt spotted out in Los Angeles
Read Article Max’s Best Friend: The True Story Behind ‘The Road Warrior’s Most Loyal Companion
Mel Gibson in Mad Max: The Road Warrior
Author
Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle (they/them) is actually nine choirs of biblically accurate angels crammed into one pair of $10 overalls. They have been writing articles for nerds on the internet for less than a year now. They really like anime. Like... REALLY like it. Like you know those annoying little kids that will only eat hotdogs and chicken fingers? They're like that... but with anime. It's starting to get sad.