The original film series took place between 1968 and 1972, but did you know this film is actually based on a french novel? In the novel a human couple Jinn and Phyllis find a letter in a bottle message of a story of three human males who crash land on this planet ruled by apes. Their captors kill two, while the third is mated to an less evolved version of a human, who eventually bears him a son that can walk and talk at three months old. With the help of Chimpanzees Zira and Cornelius the couple and child escape.
The films have all had great underlying tones of tolerance, racism, sexism, slavery, and politics. I am proud to say that I was raised on this kind of Science Fiction, my father was a child from the 60s and 70s, and raised me on Star Trek, Land of the Lost, Star Wars and much more. Planet of the Apes was a favorite at our house and they are still on my list of Must-See Classics!
Here's a quick overview if you haven't seen them, or maybe you didn't know that there were movies in the franchise that were more than a decade old, from back in the day where there was no CGI, and they had to layer on the makeup and hair for hours and hours to make these actors look like gorillas and chimpanzees.
Planet of the Apes (1968)
My Rating: 8/10
The first in the original franchise of five, and the best of the originals, POTA followed crashed astronaut George Taylor and his team. They enter hibernation, and awake as they crash into an ocean about 1500 years in their future. One member of their team, the only female, is dead before they crash as her hibernation pod was damaged. The other three swim to shore, and make their way across a long desert to find a small jungle filled with less evolved humans who don't speak, as they ascertain where they could be, the primitive humans start to run, they follow figuring these humans know best, one of them is shot and killed, Taylor shot in the neck so he can not speak, and many of the other humans are captured by what we see as uniformed gorillas on horseback. Once his throat heals and he speaks he's put on trial for his life as an abomination to the Ape religion and way of life. He sees this Ape culture has three distinct factions. The gorillas are the police and military, the orangutans are politicians and priests, and the chimpanzees are the liberals, and scientists. Eventually two chimpanzees, Zira and Cornelius help Taylor and Nova, the human female he's been paired with, into the desert where Cornelius has been on an archaeological dig in the recent past. He shows them things from an ancient civilization that he had found that proved humans used to be the dominant species. Taylor and Nova ride off along the coast and they find a crumbled Statue of Liberty, proving that he has indeed been at a post-nuclear war Earth all along.
"Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!" - Taylor
"I see you've brought the female of your species. I didn't realize that man could be monogamous." - Dr. Zaius
"It's a mad house! A mad house!" - Taylor
"You know what they say, 'Human see, human do.'" - Julius
"You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!" - Taylor
Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)
My Rating: 5/10
In this strange sequel we are introduced to newcomer in this backwards world - Astronaut Brent. His ship was on a pursuing course of Taylor's and he had crashed in the desert. He soon comes in contact with Nova, who had mysteriously lost Taylor. Brent recognizes Taylor's dogtags around her neck and tells her to take him to Taylor. She takes him to Cornelius and Zira in the ape city who help Brent by giving him maps and clothing appropriate for humans. They are given a horse and make their way back to the desert but are pursued by the gorillas, they find a cave to hide in and the gorillas end up setting up camp right outside the cave, Brent and Nova explore the cave to find a group of psychic humans who survived the nuclear holocaust, they also find Taylor is one of their prisoners. These humans worship a super nuclear bomb, which in the final battle as the gorillas enter the caves (which are actually the subway of New York City), detonates and destroys the entire planet.
"The only good human is a dead human!" - General Ursus
"They will kill you, and they will dissect you in that order." - Cornelius
"Gorilla brutality!" - Chimp protester being dragged off by the military
"May the Blessings of the Bomb Almighty, and the Fellowship of the Holy Fallout, descend upon us all. This day and forever more." - Mendez
"Well, that tears it. Maybe we should just let the world blow up. The gorillas, every damned... what it comes to." - Taylor
"In one of the countless billions of galaxies in the universe, lies a medium-sized star, and one of its satellites, a green and insignificant planet, is now dead." - Narrator
Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971)
My Rating: 6.5/10
In this third incarnation we start in the 1970s where one of the spaceships has come back to Earth, it's Brent's ship that had crashed in the future. Out of the ship walks three chimpanzees - Zira, Cornelius, and Milo. They are contained by the military and the three agree to not allow the humans to know they can speak, or about Earth's impending doom in the future. Eventually Zira becomes frustrated with one of the scientist's experiments, of which she is the center of, and she blurts out something that gives their secret up.
A presidential inquisition brings Cornelius and Zira (Milo died in the lab) before where they explain that man will destroy themselves and apes will eventually evolve to what man now is. During another question about her work Zira starts to say "dissect humans", but catches herself, though they still caught on. With their humor they quickly become national celebrities invited to important parties and rub shoulders with many important people until the government becomes aware that Zira is pregnant. They quickly decide that she should not be allowed to give birth as they fear this child will be dangerous to the future of humankind. The human scientists help Zira and Cornelius escape where they find them at a travelling circus, they leave the circus temporarily to hide on an abandoned freighter while nearby circus' and zoos are searched, the couple are found and shot dead by the military.
The film ends with Armando, the owner of the circus, chatting with the animals in his keep, he tells a baby chimpanzee that his parents were very brave and the chimpanzee, exclaims "Momma, Momma?" Armando and Zira had temporarily switched babies in case of the worst, and he was left with baby Milo in his keep.
"Does the other one talk?" - Committee Man
"Only when she lets me." - Cornelius
"Because I loathe bananas," - Zira
"You're the second human I have kissed." - Zira
Conquest for the Planet of the Apes (1972)
My Rating: 7/10
Twenty years after the events that saw Zira and Cornelius die, the Earth has changed very much. A plague has killed off all cats and dogs, so humans looking to fill that gap in their lives tried several different animals including apes, but soon realized that apes could learn to do small tasks so the pets instead become more slaves than pets. The military also has a much stronger presence in the city watching both humans and apes. The government is much less tolerant of anyone speaking out against it.
Armando has become a father figure for Milo (now named Caesar, so no one suspects he is related to the apes from the future) and they continue to perform for the circus. One day when they're passing out flyers for the circus they witness the police beating a chimpanzee in the street and Caesar yells out in disgust "lousy human bastards!" Armando takes responsibility for the outburst claiming to have made the comment, and he is arrested and eventually is killed. Caesar escapes but ends up back in the ape trade, and his new owner, McDonald, quickly becomes impressed with him and puts two and two together suggesting to Caesar he knows who he truly is.
Caesar begins a small rebellion and teaches the apes to bring him weapons, eventually leading a riot at the Ape Management and Training facility killing their oppressors and freeing dozens if not hundreds more apes. Angry about his father and mother's deaths and now Armando's and seeing how terrible humans are he exclaims that the roles are now reversed, humans will now be the slaves.
"The mere fact of your existence would be regarded as a great threat to mankind." - Armando
"Lousy human bastards!!" - Caesar
"The King is dead. Long live the King!" - Caesar
"Because your kind were once our ancestors. Because man was born of apes, and there's still an ape curled up inside of every man. You're the beast in us that we have to whip into submission. You're the savage that we need to shackle in chains. You taint us, Caesar. You poison our guts. When we hate you, we're hating the dark side of ourselves." - Brock
"But now... now we will put away our hatred. Now we will put down our weapons. We have passed through the night of the fires, and those who were our masters are now our servants. And we, who are not human, can afford to be humane. Destiny is the will of God, and if it is Man’s destiny to be dominated, it is God’s will that he be dominated with compassion, and understanding. So, cast out your vengeance. Tonight, we have seen the birth of the Planet of the Apes!" - Caesar
Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)
My Rating 5.5/10
12 Years, and a global nuclear war later, Caesar attempts to bring peace between Humans and Apes, he is opposed on both sides by the gorilla leader Aldo who plots Caesar's murder, Caesar wishes he had his parents from the future to turn to for answers and guidance. McDonald tells him there could be audio or even video of Zira and Cornelius in the forbidden city. They make their way to the radioactive city in search of these videos and run into radioactive, sick humans who blame them for the world they are now living in.
The humans eventually attack Ape City but are thwarted by Caesar and the apes, instead of having them all killed Caesar insists they could all live peacefully.
We jump 600 years in the future to see that his dream lived and humans and apes now live in a peaceful community.
It leaves the original franchise in a very neat paradox. We are still some 600 years until the arrival of astronauts Taylor or Brent, will they find a different future than the one they originally did, or do Apes still take over and enslave and destroy the human race?
"All knowledge is for good. Only the use to which you put it can be good or evil." - Virgil
"Ape has never killed ape, let alone an ape child. Aldo has killed an ape child. The branch did not break. It was cut with a sword." - Virgil
"We still wait, my children. But as I look at apes and humans living in friendship, in harmony and at peace, now some 600 years after Caesar's death, at least we wait with hope for the future." - Narrator
Planet of the Apes (2001)
My Rating: 4/10
In 2029 Captain Leo Davidson works aboard the space station, and leaving to do some work in a one-man pod he is absorbed by a radioactive storm and sent into the future. He comes across Ari a chimpanzee who apposes the enslavement of humans, a female human slave Daena, and human haters Thade and Attar.
Leo escapes with Ape City with many other humans, including Daena and also Ari. She takes them to a place where apes are not allowed and they find Leo's space station, which computer still works. It tells him it's been crashed for thousands of years, and reveals the original ape rebellion and destruction of humanity's way of life. War breaks out when the ape army reaches Leo's human army and the humans win. Leo takes a pod from the space station hoping to go back in time and change this crazy, awful future from ever happening. He crash lands at the Lincoln monument but as he walks up the steps he realizes it's actually Aperaham Lincoln made in honor of Thade, and he is surrounded by police cars and helicopters, but finds confused gorillas and chimpanzees manning the vehicles.
This movie was a terrible reboot, everything was much too convenient. (The space station still working, and knowing all important historical events to tell Leo among many of the examples.) The ending was terrible and made absolutely no sense, it was merely just trying to one up the original ending in 1968 but without any plausible explanation. The one thing I did enjoy was the hair and makeup done for the apes. As much as I love the CGI in the two new films, and how wonderful they look, I still really love the hair and makeup, even in the originals from the 70s.
"Get your stinking hands off me, you damn dirty human!" - Attar
"Everything in the human culture takes place below the waist!" - Thade
"Are you trying to put me out of business? These are the skankiest, scabbiest, scuzziest humans I've ever seen." - Limbo
Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
My Rating: 8/10
Attempting to reboot the franchise ten years later after the failed attempt could have gone terribly wrong, except they did something so completely different that it did so incredibly well.
The film starts with Will Rodman experimenting at a medical supply company experimenting on Alzheimer cures, and unknown to them one of the apes they were experimenting on was pregnant, as she tried to protect her child she goes on a rampage and the board terminates the project and Rodman takes home the chimp baby so it isn't put down. He raises it and is amazed with it's quick growth and knowledge retention. Caesar grows into an adult chimpanzee who can sign, understand English, and asks Rodman questions about where he comes from. He is told the truth about his mother, the Alzheimer cure, and about the other apes that are being experimented on. Caesar is taken from Rodman and placed in a primate shelter after an altercation with the neighbors, and after becoming the top dog in the shelter he realizes that apes are still not intelligent. He sneaks out in the middle of the night, finds the new, stronger, cure at Rodman's facility and uses it to enhance the intelligence of all the apes in the facility. They stage an escape and break out others from the experiment facility as well as the zoo. This new breed of intelligent ape head for the Redwoods just outside San Francisco, the police are waiting on the bridge and a large fight ensues, with the apes coming out as the victors and heading deep into the Redwoods.
The film ends with the virus strain of the "cure" going airborne and travelling the world infecting, and killing 90% of the worldwide human population.
"Meet chimp nine. Here she's tasking at what is called the Lucas Tower, the object of which is to move the tower from peg to peg without placing a larger block on top of a smaller block. As expected she was unable to complete the puzzle at all. Then we gave her what we call; A-L-Z-One-Twelve. A gene therapy that allows the brain to create its own cells in order to repair itself. In Biology this is called neurogenesis. Here at Gen Sys, we call it the cure to Alzheimer's." - Rodman
"Take your stinking paws off me you damn dirty ape!" - Landon
"NO!" - Caesar
"It's a madhouse! A madhouse!" - Landon
"Caesar shows cognitive skills that far exceed that of a human counterpart. The drug in his system has radicly boosted healthy brain functions." - Rodman
[Dawn of the Planet of the Apes](movie:322904) (2014)
My Rating: 9/10
Ten years after the virus has destroyed the majority of the human race the apes have created a great utopia in the woods, they are re-populating and are very happy. They figure that humans have destroyed each other and that there are none left. They soon realize they're wrong as a small team of humans come to fix the dam in the woods so they can regain power in the city at their small refuge colony. Despite some apes, mostly Koba and his followers, being opposed to helping the humans. Koba attempts to kill Caesar and temporarily takes control of the ape army and they destroy the human colony. After two days Caesar heals up with help of humans Malcolm, Ellie and Caesar's own son Blue Eyes. Caesar challenges Koba, fighting him across the towers of San Fran, Koba begs for help from Caesar, saying that ape doesn't kill ape, Caesar denies his plea and kills him.
Malcolm finds Caesar and tells him that the humans have called for reinforcements, that a military base has answered the call and is on their way. War will break out soon.
This film was amazing. the CGI, the story, the characters, the writing. I was so impressed. The majority of the characters are CGI based off of motion capture technology, and that could not have been an easy thing to do. I was extremely impressed with this movie. They did a fantastic job at allowing us to love and sympathize with both the humans struggle to survive in this new broken world, and the apes struggle to survive and fear of humanity. We knew the apes were going to come out on top, as is the title of the franchise, but they did it in a way that still brough realism, and empathy to the characters--even the villains of Koba the chimpanzee and Dreyfus the human colony leader. The film is not about war, it's not about right or wrong even, it's about war, peace and tolerance.
"Human work, human work. Human work! Human WORK!!" - Koba, pointing to various scars along his body.
"For Koba humans learned hate and nothing else." - Caesar
"Ape does not kill ape." - Caesar
"Koba fight for Koba." - Caesar
"Ape not kill ape," - Koba
"You are no ape," - Caesar
"It was a virus created by scientists in a lab. You can't honestly blame the apes?" - Ellie
"Ape started war, and human will not forgive." - Caesar
I am very hopeful for this franchise, and with the next film coming in 2016, we'll soon see what happens next. If it plays out anything like the original franchise we're up for nuclear war! We've recently learned that the ending of the film slightly changed before it's released, we were meant to see Caesar and the apes on top of the bridge looking down upon the military making it's way into the city, and the feeling of ever impending war.
My biggest hope for the next film is something global, in the originals we never saw anything outside the New York area, in the two new ones we didn't see anything outside the San Fran area. Are there more humans still alive? Probably. Are there apes alive somewhere else? As the virus strain spread around the world did it turn all apes intelligent worldwide? I would love for the franchise to finally earn its title and finally be more about the planet than a colony.