Celebrating 50 years of ‘Apes’: ‘Escape from the Planet of the Apes’ (1971) (Movie review)

This series celebrates 50 years of the “Planet of the Apes” film franchise. Here, we look back at the third film in the original series.

“Escape from the Planet of the Apes” (1971) is proof that you can’t stop sequels from being made. According to the “Behind the Planet of the Apes” documentary (1998), Charlton Heston came up with the idea of not only killing off Taylor, but also blowing up the Earth at the end of “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” (1970), so as not to be dogged by yet another sequel. But a year later, the third film came out, propelled by a solution that was already present in the saga: time travel. Only this time, it’s in reverse, as Zira (Kim Hunter) and Cornelius (Roddy McDowall, back after a one-film absence) – fleeing the gorillas’ world of war — travel from 3955 to 1970s Los Angeles.

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Celebrating 50 years of ‘Apes’: ‘Beneath the Planet of the Apes’ (1970) (Movie review)

This series celebrates 50 years of the “Planet of the Apes” film franchise. Here, we look back at the second film in the original series.

Despite common misconception, “Planet of the Apes” (1968) does not reveal that nuclear warfare knocked the humans back a peg; that’s what Taylor (Charlton Heston) guesses, but it’s not confirmed until the second entry, “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” (1970). The underground mutant bomb worshippers peel back their false faces to reveal their true radiation-scarred visages. They worship The Bomb as if it’s a god (this film could’ve been subtitled “How Humans Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb”), and indeed, a genetic effect from the bombs has given them telepathic and mind-control abilities.

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Celebrating 50 years of ‘Apes’: Tim Burton’s ‘Planet of the Apes’ (2001) (Movie review)

This series celebrates 50 years of the “Planet of the Apes” film franchise. Here, we look back at director Tim Burton’s re-imagining of the material for his 2001 film.

Screenwriters William Broyles Jr., Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal shake out the puzzle pieces of the 1968 “Planet of the Apes” screenplay and Pierre Boulle’s 1963 novel and reassemble them in a fresh fashion for uber-director Tim Burton’s “Planet of the Apes” (2001), which is loved by some and loathed by many, but certainly provides lots of things to talk about.

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Celebrating 50 years of ‘Apes’: ‘Planet of the Apes’ novel (1963) (Book review)

This series celebrates 50 years of the “Planet of the Apes” film franchise. For this post, though, I’m taking a step further back and looking at Pierre Boulle’s 1963 novel.

Pierre Boulle’s 1963 novel “Planet of the Apes” is one of the classic “books that are better than the movie,” but it still gets lost in the shadow of the 1968 film. In my estimation, the French novelist (1912-1994) delivers one of the elite science fiction novels of the 20th century, using a foreign planet to explore Earthly biology, human nature, the primate evolutionary tree, the intelligent brain, classism, politics and the arc of civilization.

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Celebrating 50 years of ‘Apes’: ‘Planet of the Apes’ (1968) (Movie review)

This series celebrates 50 years of the “Planet of the Apes” franchise. We naturally start with the original film, which hit theaters on April 3, 1968.

The original “Planet of the Apes” movie is groundbreaking and dated, flawed and fascinating. It still holds up today by every important measure, but – while the ape makeup effects, Jerry Goldsmith’s chillingly primitive score and the desert vistas and ape community sets are worthy talking points – it’s the narrative that makes the film timeless.

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‘Apes’ pre-make trilogy wraps with masterful ‘War for the Planet of the Apes’ (Movie review)

Watching “War for the Planet of the Apes” – now available via Redbox and streaming – is like seeing a movie from the future. Every scene has an ape in it; there’s never a sense that the filmmakers are being frugal with the special effects, but at the same time, they aren’t showing off. While I know the trick is achieved with motion-capture and computer animation, there are moments when I wondered if actual chimpanzees were used (They were not, the web tells me).

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‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ explores human nature via apes, brilliant special effects (Movie review)

The “Planet of the Apes” franchise shows us we’re not much different from apes, and we’re both victims of our respective races’ propensity for violence and destruction. But 2011’s “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” gave the apes a fresh opportunity: Caesar (Andy Serkis plus motion capture computer effects), the first member of a new breed of apes with genetically enhanced brains, grew up in modern human society, and he learned morality from – as Caesar calls him – “a good man,” Dr. Will Rodman (James Franco).

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How did the apes get that way in the first place? ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ has the answers (Movie review)

A cool thing about science fiction novels is that not only do they explore future possibilities, they also inspire other writers’ imaginations; sometimes one writer’s little idea leads to a whole line of fictional exploration he didn’t originally intend.

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