Celebrating 50 years of ‘Apes’: ‘Battle for the Planet of the Apes’ (1973) (Movie review)

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

“Battle of the Planet of the Apes” (1973) is not a particularly revered film, but it is perhaps the most influential within the “Apes” franchise. Caesar’s (Roddy McDowall) attempt to be a benevolent ruler of an ape society while dealing with threats within and without would be further explored in 2014’s “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” and 2017’s “War for the Planet of the Apes.” In a notable parallel, the bloodthirsty gorilla General Aldo (Claude Akins) is the first to break the sacred law that “ape shall not kill ape,” much like the second Caesar’s rival Koba in the newer films.

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Celebrating 50 years of ‘Apes’: ‘Conquest of the Planet of the Apes’ (1972) (Movie review)

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

The “Apes” series simultaneously moves into a more immediate nightmare scenario and a less personal sci-fi commentary with “Conquest of the Planet of the Apes” (1972), which is a cinematographically black answer to George Lucas’ sterile, white “THX-1138” from a year earlier. In the final nighttime act of this film set in the future of 1991, apes turn on the human society that has molded them from pets (replacements for the dogs and cats wiped out in a 1983 plague) into smart slaves. A little too smart, as it turns out.

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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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