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FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES - 1973
20th Century Fox
RATINGS: Finland: K-16 / Germany: 12 / Sweden: 15 / UK: PG/ USA: G
In the tradition
of the Planet of the Apes franchise, let's begin the story with the
standard Huge Plot Hole. The film opens to a brief interlude with narrator
John Huston (THE BLACK CAULDRON) as an ape
known as The Lawgiver, speaking in the year 2670. We quickly flash back
to what must be the early 21st century (given that
the last movie, BATTLE FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES, took place in 1991,
and this is clearly not more than 10 or 20 years later).
This is a post-nuclear holocaust world. A small group of human and ape survivors
are gathered in Ape City, a tiny village made up mostly of treehouses,
which is ruled over by the ape king Caesar (Roddy
McDowell: PLANET OF THE APES, FRIGHT NIGHT),
the child of the Apes from the future: Cornelius and Zira. Unlike the
Ape City in the first film, this one has humans and apes living side by
side, although apes are clearly on the top rung of society.
And the plot hole? I'm getting there. In the first movie we see the Earth of the
year A.D. 3955. This is a world ruled by upright, sentient, speaking apes (Or at least, the part of the world we see who knows what's going on in Asia, Australia, etc.). Humans here are mute and savage. The only explanation we're given for this
state of affairs is an ancient nuclear war that destroyed human civilization.
The apes took over in the aftermath.
The late Director J. Lee Thompson was already well established for taking on the troubled movie, The Guns of Navaronne, and making it into a hit.
Thompson directed the last two PLANET OF THE APES sequels, CONQUEST OF THE PLANET OF THE APES and this one.
Thompson also directed CAPE FEAR (1962), RETURN FROM THE ASHES, EYE OF THE DEVIL, THE REINCARNATION OF PETER PROUD, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME (1981), and ended his career doing a number of Charles Bronson movies including THE EVIL THAT MEN DO (1984).
See the Official 20th Century Fox
PLANET OF THE APES
Go to the
Official Website site.
The movies never really say exactly how modern apes are transformed into
intelligent simians. Many assume that it must be either evolution or mutations
from lingering radiation. Neither of these can be the answer.
Something in the neighborhood
of 5 million years separates modern humans and modern chimpanzees from
their common ancestor. Two thousand years ain't gonna do it. Evolution
needs more time to make changes that dramatic.
And as for radiation,
the answer is no for the same reason the answer would be no for radiation
creating the giant ants in THEM. Mutations
just don't work that way. They almost always cause bad changes in
genes, that result in still births or shortened life spans. (If
you take the text from a book and randomly scatter the letters, what are
the chances the book will be better? Odds are it won't even be legible
The one and only way these apes could exist is if they were created deliberately. A great deal
of genetic engineering is the only answer. The Theory of Special Creation
would actually apply, although their creator was something less than divine.
So here's the
problem. Twenty years after CONQUEST OF THE PLANET
OF THE APES, where shambling, inarticulate apes were being used as
slaves, all of simian kind has been transformed into the upright, speaking
creatures we saw in the first movie, WITH NO EXPLANATION AS TO HOW
THIS HAPPENED! I mean, what the hell?
Okay, I feel better. This movie is mildly interesting but certainly not the best of
the series. Caesar's authority is being challenged by General Aldo
(Claude Akins: THE CURSE, THE NORLISS TAPES [TV]),
leader of the gorilla soldiers. Aldo has no love for humans, and almost
kills the human school teacher when the teacher commits the unpardonable
sin of saying, "No!" to Aldo, a word humans are forbidden from
speaking to Apes because it's a reminder of the days when apes were
The leader of the human faction is MacDonald (Austin Stoker:
TWISTED BRAIN), the brother of the MacDonald who worked as the
assistant to the Governor (and befriended Caesar)
in the previous movie. MacDonald tells Caesar that tapes of his parents
still exist in the underground archives under the radioactive ruins of
the city where Caesar was once a slave. Searching for wisdom and believing
the words of his parents will provide what he needs, Caesar and MacDonald
decide on an expedition into the ruined city. They bring along Virgil
(Paul Williams: PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE, HEADLESS BODY IN A TOPLESS BAR, SOLAR CRISES), an ape scientist.
The final confrontations between the apes and the city-dwellers and between Caesar
and Aldo are very predictable, and the stilted dialogue and unbelievable
(even for a movie like this) characters make
this my least favorite of the series. I give it two shriek girls.
copyright 1999 E.C.McMullen Jr.
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