PLANET OF THE APES RETROSPECTIVE: BEST TO WORST

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What a great series to review this year. Brilliant characters, excellent commentary on real life events and news headlines. Amazing costumes and later special effects. Crazy plots and twists. Excellent set design and imagination. The Planet of the Apes series has endured decades and has had many highs and many lows. In 2014 with the release of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes I decided to look back at the series from the original 1968 classic Planet of the Apes all the way to 2014’s Dawn. It has been a great experience reviewing this film and below I’ll list the best to worst in the series.

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1. Planet of the Apes (1968)

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

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

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4. Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)

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5. Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)

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6. Planet of the Apes (2001)

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

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8. Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)

Although I love Dawn of the Planet of the Apes dearly I still find the original 1968 film to be the best of the series. Rise of the Planet of the Apes was an excellent reboot for the franchise and introduced us to Andy Serkis mo-capped Caesar. Conquest of the Planet of the Apes was an excellent thriller and showed the beginning of the Planet of the Apes. Beneath the Planet of the Apes was a fun sequel to the original with a completely insane ending. However with a (mostly) absent Charlton Heston the film ultimately struggled. Tim Burton’s remake was disappointing but had some fun elements and excellent costume design. Escape and Battle were pretty forgettable entries in the franchise. All up a great series and I had a lot of fun watching them all.

REVIEW: BATTLE FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES (1973)

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The Lawgiver: In the beginning God created beast and man so that both might live in friendship and share dominion over a world of peace. But in the fullness of time evil men betrayed God’s trust and in disobedience to His holy word waged bloody wars, not only against their own kind, but against the apes, whom they reduced to slavery. Then God in his wrath sent the world a saviour, miraculously born of two apes who descended on Earth from Earth’s own future and man was afraid for both parent apes possessed the power of speech.

Director: J. Lee Thompson

Cast: Roddy McDowall, Claude Akins, Natalie Trundy, Austin Stoker

Synopsis: As Cornelius struggles to keep life peaceful between ape and man, a reckless militant gorilla named Aldo pushes war between the remaining humans on earth and the apes.

Review:

A rather underwhelming final chapter to the Planet of the Apes series which began with 1968’s brilliant original starring Charlton Heston. This seventies based series has a complicated history both on and behind the screens. However all of the apes films were popular box office draws for Fox Studios during the seventies, with all of the films directed at families and sci-fi aficionados. The series popularised smart science fiction with social commentary, interesting characters and jaw-dropping twists in each film. Battle for the Planet of the Apes unfortunately ends the series with a whimper. The plot revolves around Cornelius ruling a peaceful society where apes are the superior species and man helps out with laborious chores wearing scrappy torn clothes. Some humans allowed in Cornelius’s close quarters give insight to Cornelius regarding the ethics of society. The film overall looks a lot cheaper than previous entries, with costumes looking at an all-time low with the many apes wondering around the screen. The lighting is often bright and most of the scenes take place during sunny days which doesn’t do favours for the appearance of the apes. Militant gorilla Aldo looks the worst in a clearly plastic mask that doesn’t quite move right when he speaks. Cornelius fares better in his ape costume however also struggles with speech and emotion, unlike previous films where he looked quite good.

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The plot is quite basic and the title is quite misleading as one would expect the apes in an all out war with humans eventually creating the Planet of the Apes that we saw in the original. Instead the plot deals with Cornelius struggling with power and going on a search for his parents lost tapes that they filmed in the previous Escape from the Planet of the Apes. Militant gorilla Aldo causes most of the drama as he dislikes humans mixing with apes and wishes for them all to be destroyed. This leads to an inevitable battle between the apes with unsurprising results.

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Director J. Lee Thompson has lost the innovation he displayed in the previous film, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, which was quite dark and violent in tone. In this film he shoots mostly in the light and creates dull action set pieces that look phony and outdated even for the seventies. Perhaps the worst entry in the entire Planet of the Apes franchise. I would give this a miss and move on to the recent reboots instead.

Rating: 1 Star

*Check out reviews for other films in this series below or follow the links.