Movie Reviews

Battle for the Planet of the Apes: Does It Get Any Worse Than This?

As if things weren’t getting bad enough in the last installment of this series, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, it gets even worse in this, the final of the five films. Thank God they stopped making them!

We are supposed to believe that following the ape uprising at the end of the previous movie, the nuclear war that just about destroys the entire planet has occurred. Caeser, the son of the two apes, Cornelius and Zira, from the future has survived along with others. One of the survivors is the brother of the man who aided Caeser’s escape from the evil Governor in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. Together the surviving humans and apes are trying to build a community together; humans are trying to educate the chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans.

However, all is not peaceful. The gorillas resent the surviving humans completely. Any time a human utters the word “No” the apes go crazy as they consider it a slave-master’s word (my personal opinion is that everyone should have been dead by now if that’s the case). Caeser does not believe MacDonald’s assertions of the future that his parents informed the humans of. The two of them take off with the orangutan Virgil for the ruined city to find a film of his parents believed to have survived in the archives.

The only problem is that is not all that has survived in the ruins of Los Angeles. The beginnings of the mutant race seen in the second movie Beneath the Planet of the Apes is also here, along with their leader, Mendez I.

Right there you have the biggest problem that throws the credibility of the movie right out the window. At the end of the original Planet of the Apes film, Charlton Heston comes upon the Statue of Liberty after departing Ape City. In the second film, Heston is held captive by the mutants who revere Mendez I not far from Ape City in the underground world pf post-nuclear New York City.

So why does this movie take place on the west coast near Los Angeles???. Are we supposed to believe that apes and mutants alike crossed the entire country at some point? It hardly seems likely since the mutants are portrayed as not wanting to go out in the light and avoid it whenever possible.

Most of the actors from the previous film seemed to know when to bail, with the exception of Roddy McDowell as Caeser. He must have had big alimony payments or something that he would make this film. None of the actors seem to believe in their roles; something that is necessary when you’re filming a story that expects you to suspend disbelief. Sheriff Lobo (Claude Akins) is here as the militant gorilla General Aldo. Sheriff Lobo was an improvement in this role, trust me. Lew Ayres is seen briefly as Mandemus who keeps all the weaponry, preventing war from breaking out in the community between the apes and humans. Paul Williams is the super-intelligent orangutan Virgil, and that’s about it for names you will recognize. I’ve never been a Charlton Heston fan, but I’ll give him that he had brains enough to get out of this series.

There are some battle scenes as the mutants take off after the apes after seeing the two apes and one human in the archives. The chase through the nuclear devastated Los Angeles was somewhat interesting and just about the only bright spot. One thing that nagged at me there was in every apocalyptic novel I’ve ever read that dealt with annihilation in a nuclear war, the ruins are often described as being smooth and glass-like. This was nothing of the sort and looked more like the ruins we have seen in Independence Day. It’s a minor quibble, and if the movie was a better film it probably wouldn’t have bothered me so much.

The film suffers from poor writing, poor acting, and complete inconsistency with the story that was set up in the original movie. Had the writing and production staff made at least a stab at some consistency, the movie would have had a chance. All credibility is shot however with several poor choices.

Previous film in the series (link): Conquest of the Planet of the Apes

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