Celebrating 50 years of ‘Apes’: ‘Battle for the Planet of the Apes’ (1973) wraps saga with relative whimper (Movie review)

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his 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’: Saga gets bloody in ‘Conquest of the Planet of the Apes’ (1972) (Movie review)

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his 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) pulls off smart shift in perspective (Movie review)

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his 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) goes full-blown nuclear (Movie review)

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his 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 goes bananas with ‘Planet of the Apes’ (2001) (Movie review)

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his 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)

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his 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) is ‘The Twilight Zone’ transformed into an epic (Movie review)

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his 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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‘Planet of the Apes’ (1968) reviews

John’s “Planet of the Apes” flashback review, April 3, 2018

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“Planet of the Apes” – With apologies to “Forbidden Planet” and “2001,” “Planet of the Apes” is the best sci-fi movie of the pre-“Star Wars” era. This dystopian parable from “Twilight Zone” creator Rod Serling is as meaningful today as it was in 1968. An astronaut (Charlton Heston) travels to the 40th century and a planet where apes rule and humans are hunted.

Directed by Franklin J. Schaffner, the film is packed with scenes and dialogue that provide a wry commentary on modern society. Above all, it warns that nuclear weapons could lead to the apocalypse, a theme reprised in many later films. It all leads up to a chilling final scene.

– John Hansen, “The 25 coolest science fiction movies,” NDSU Spectrum, Sept. 4, 1998

‘Planet of the Apes’ (2001) reviews

John’s “Planet of the Apes” (2001) flashback review, April 13, 2018

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“Planet of the Apes” — Director Tim Burton and writer William Broyles’s re-imagining of the 1968 sci-fi classic isn’t exactly an intellectual exercise, but by summer blockbuster standards, it’s pretty good. Mark Wahlberg crash lands on an ape-dominated planet after going through a time warp; oppressed humans rally around him in their fight with the apes. The film is technically brilliant, featuring realistic ape costumes and behavior and a lush city that contrasts with the desert setting of the original. A couple of wink-wink lines (“Get your stinkin’ hands off me, you damn dirty human!”) and a cameo by Charlton Heston provide the necessary homages. Ironically, while the original’s surprise ending tied everything together, this film’s surprise ending is confusing and unnecessary. B+  

­— John Hansen, NDSU Spectrum, Aug. 28, 2001

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