REVIEW: WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES

 

CAST

Woody Harrelson (The Hunger Games)
Toby Kebbell (Fantastic Four)
Amiah Miller (Lights Out)
Judy Greer (Jurassic World)
Andy Sekris (The Hobbit)
Steve Zahn (Roadkill)
Karin Konoval (2012)
Gabriel Chavarria (Hunter Killer)
Sara Canning (The Vampire Diaries)
Aleks Paunovic (Kindergarten Cop 2)

Some time after the U.S. military was called to fight off an increasingly intelligent and dangerous tribe of apes, the apes clan, led by the chimpanzee Caesar, are attacked in the woods by a rogue paramilitary faction known as Alpha-Omega, led by a ruthless Colonel. Alpha-Omega also has in its service apes they call “Donkeys” that had previously followed Koba, a human-hating bonobo who led a failed coup against Caesar. During the attack, the Alpha-Omega militants are met by heavy ape resistance, and several soldiers, including the gorilla Red, are captured by the apes. Caesar arrives and orders the four human soldiers to be released, with a message to the Colonel that he did not start the war, and that he desires peace between the humans and apes. Caesar orders that Red be imprisoned for his crimes, but before he can be imprisoned, Red escapes, injuring an albino gorilla named Winter. Soon after, Caesar’s son Blue Eyes and his lieutenant Rocket return from a journey to find a safe haven for the apes.They report that they have found a place across the desert that is perfect for the clan. Winter, still frightened from the soldiers’ attack, wants to leave immediately, but Caesar does not think they are prepared to leave so soon. That night, a group of Alpha-Omega soldiers, led by the Colonel, infiltrates the apes’ home behind a waterfall and the Colonel kills Caesar’s wife, Cornelia, and Blue Eyes. Winter cannot be found, and Luca, a gorilla, believes that Winter has betrayed them because he was frightened.Leaving his younger son, Cornelius, in the care of Blue Eyes’ mate, Lake, Caesar departs to exact revenge on the Colonel for the death of his family. He is accompanied by Maurice, an orangutan and Caesar’s advisor, Luca, and Rocket, while the other apes head for the desert. During their journey, the apes encounter a soldier living in an abandoned village and Caesar shoots him when he reaches for his rifle. Caesar, Maurice, Luca, and Rocket search the dead soldier’s home. Maurice discovers the soldier’s daughter who is apparently unable to speak. Maurice befriends the girl, giving her a small rag doll, and insists that they take her with them.Along the way Caesar’s party encounters Winter in an Alpha-Omega camp on the beach where he has volunteered to become a “donkey” for the soldiers in return for sparing his life. He tells Caesar’s group that the Colonel has departed for a location referred to as the “border.” Winter tries to call out to Alpha-Omega soldiers to save him, but Caesar and the others smother him to keep him quiet, killing him. Caesar begins to worry that he is becoming like Koba by killing apes and seeking revenge. While following the soldiers to the border, they discover some soldiers who have been shot and left for dead. Their examination of a soldier who survived reveals that he, like the girl, cannot speak. Later the group meets Bad Ape, an intelligent chimpanzee hermit who lived in the Sierra Zoo before the Simian Flu pandemic. Bad Ape reveals that the human soldiers are encamped at the border and hesitantly agrees to lead them there.When the group arrives at the border, they see hundreds of apes held captive inside a former quarantine facility. While getting a closer look, Luca is killed protecting Caesar from an AO patrol, angering Caesar and causing him to proceed alone. Caesar discovers the rest of his ape clan has been captured, and are being forced to build a wall with no food or water; he is captured by Red. The Colonel reveals to Caesar that the Simian Flu virus has mutated and now causes humans who survived the original strain to devolve, becoming mute and regressing back to a primitive state. Caesar deduces that the Colonel is barricading himself in the facility to fend off remnants of the U.S. Army from the North who are coming to execute him because he favors killing any infected humans including his own son to stop the spread of the virus. Caesar is commended by the Colonel for his intelligence, and the Colonel explains he is fighting a “holy war” for the survival of mankind.While Caesar is tortured with starvation, the mute girl, whom Maurice names Nova, sneaks into the facility to give Caesar her rag doll given to her by Maurice, food, and water. To prevent her from being discovered, Rocket allows himself to be captured as a diversion. The next day, the Colonel comes to see if Caesar is still alive, discovers the doll, and asks both Caesar and Preacher how the doll got inside the cell. The Colonel decides to take the doll. Together Caesar and Rocket are able to work out a means of escape via an underground tunnel that leads out of the facility. Maurice and Bad Ape use the tunnel to rescue the apes, and Caesar orders the others to escape while he goes to confront the Colonel. As the facility comes under attack by the northern army, Caesar reaches the Colonel but realizes that he has fallen victim to the virus that he feared and has become unable to speak. As Caesar is about to kill the Colonel, he sees the mute girl’s rag doll on the ground. Caesar puts down his gun and spares the Colonel who then uses it to kill himself.During the battle between Alpha-Omega and the Northern Army, the escaping apes come under fire from Alpha-Omega. Caesar attempts to attack Alpha-Omega from behind, but is shot with a crossbow by Preacher, one of the Alpha-Omega militants he had previously set free. Red saves Caesar’s life by killing Preacher with a grenade launcher and is executed by an Alpha-Omega superior as a result. Caesar blows up the facility’s fuel supplies causing a cascading explosion, which wipes out Alpha-Omega and allows the Northern Army to win the battle. However, the army is subsequently buried and decimated by an avalanche, which Caesar and the other apes, carrying Nova, survive by climbing nearby trees. The remaining apes depart the facility and cross the desert to find an oasis. While the other apes joyously celebrate their new home, Maurice discovers Caesar’s wound. Maurice then speaks letting Caesar know that Cornelius will know what his father believed in and did to protect the apes. Caesar slowly and silently succumbs to his wound, and Maurice mourns his passing watching over the other apes.What makes War Of The Planet Of The Apes a masterpiece? Because it has some extremely well handled dramatic moments in it, boasting visually stunning cinematography and masterful acting to carry it off. War Of The Planet Of The Apes is not just about the horror about the battle of war, it’s also about the revolutionary shouts from the people being affected by it, in this case the apes. It’s an emotional roller- coaster, except instead of over-done sentimentality it displays raw emotion to get into the viewer watching the film. War Of The Planet Of The Apes, in my opinion, marks as the best of the Planet Of The Apes prequel films..

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REVIEW: DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

CAST
Andy Serkis (The Hobbit)
Jason Clarke (Terminator Salvation)
Gary Oldman (Robocop 2014)
Keri Russell (Waitress)
Toby Kebbell (Fantastic Four 2015)
Kodi Smith-McPhee (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Kirk Acevedo (Fringe)
Judy Greer (Ant-Man)
Ten years after the worldwide pandemic of the deadly ALZ-113 virus, or Simian Flu, human civilization is completely destroyed following martial law, civil unrest and the economic collapse of every country in the world. Over 90% of the human population has died in the pandemic, while apes with genetically enhanced intelligence have started to build a civilization of their own. Near the ruins of San Francisco, Caesar leads and governs an ape colony located in the Muir Woods. While walking through the forest, Caesar’s son Blue Eyes and his friend Ash encounter a human named Carver, who panics and shoots Ash, wounding him. Carver calls for the rest of his small party of armed survivors, led by a man named Malcolm, while Blue Eyes calls for the other apes. Caesar orders the humans to leave. The remaining humans in San Francisco, who are genetically immune to the virus, are living in a guarded and unfinished high-rise tower within the ruined city. Prompted by Koba, a scarred bonobo who holds a grudge against humans for his mistreatment, Caesar brings an army of apes to the city tower where he conveys the message that while the apes do not want war, they will fight to defend their home. He demands that the humans stay in their territory and states the apes will stay in theirs too.
Malcolm convinces his fellow leader Dreyfus to give him three days to reconcile with the apes to gain access to a hydroelectric dam in their territory, which could provide long-term power to the city. Dreyfus, distrustful of the apes, arms survivors using an abandoned armory. Malcolm then travels into the ape village, but is captured by gorilla guards, who bring him to Caesar. After a tense discussion, Caesar allows Malcolm to work on the dam’s generator, if they surrender their guns. As Malcolm, his wife Ellie and son Alexander work, they bond with the apes. Mutual distrust of both sides gradually subsides; the truce is endangered when Caesar’s infant son Milo discovers a shotgun smuggled in by Carver, but the two sides reconcile when Ellie offers to help treat Caesar’s ill wife Cornelia with antibiotics. Meanwhile, Koba discovers the armory and confronts Caesar, questioning his allegiance and taunting him over his “love” for humans. In response, Caesar severely beats Koba, but at the last moment refrains from killing him; adhering to his philosophy that “ape not kill ape”, Caesar hesitantly forgives Koba. The furious Koba then returns to the armory, where he steals an assault rifle and murders two human guards. Returning home, he secretly kills Carver, stealing his lighter and cap.
The dam is eventually repaired, restoring power to the city. During the celebration, Koba sets fire to the apes’ home, then, unseen to anyone else, shoots Caesar in the shoulder, causing him to fall from the settlement’s main tree. In the panic of the loss of the alpha and the fire, Koba takes charge, and having planted Carver’s cap at the scene of the shooting, urging the apes to fight against the humans. Malcolm’s group hides as Koba leads the apes into San Francisco. The apes plunder the armory and charge the tower’s gates. Despite heavy casualties, the apes breach the gates using a hijacked tank, overrun the tower and imprison all the humans as Dreyfus flees underground. When Ash refuses Koba’s orders to kill unarmed humans, citing Caesar’s teachings, Koba kills Ash and imprisons all those known to be loyal to Caesar.
Malcolm’s group finds Caesar barely alive and transport him to his former home in San Francisco. Caesar reveals to Malcolm that Koba shot him, realizing his notion that apes were better than humans was naïve and that apes can be as violent as humans. Malcolm leaves the group and heads to the city to find medical supplies for Caesar. While looking for medical supplies, Malcolm encounters Blue Eyes; disenchanted with Koba’s leadership, the young ape spares Malcolm’s life and returns to the house with him, where he reconciles with his father. Caesar grows nostalgic watching a video clip from his childhood of his former owner and father figure Will Rodman on his old camcorder as Malcolm learns of Caesar’s past. A plan is put into action: Blue Eyes returns to the tower and frees the caged humans and apes loyal to Caesar, then Malcolm leads the apes, unseen, into the tower from below. After accomplishing this, Malcolm encounters Dreyfus, who informs him that his men have made radio contact with military survivors at a base to the north, who are on their way to help fight the apes. Caesar confronts Koba at the top of the tower, but as they battle, Dreyfus detonates C-4 charges he has planted beneath the tower. The resulting explosion kills him and collapses part of the tower. Caesar overpowers Koba, with Koba hanging over the edge of the tower. Pleading for his life, Koba reminds Caesar that apes do not kill apes, but Caesar states that Koba is not an ape and lets him fall to his death.
Malcolm informs Caesar of the impending arrival of human military reinforcements and both lament the lost opportunity for peace. Caesar tells Malcolm that the humans will never forgive the apes for the war they started and advises him to leave with his family for safety as the two of them acknowledge their friendship. As Malcolm disappears into the shadows, Caesar stands before a kneeling mass of apes, awaiting the war to come.
The exhilarating action scenes and set pieces are of a grander scale than in ‘Rise’ and with the use of some truly spectacular digital effects that are as realistic as any you will see, makes for an absorbing visual feast. But the finest achievements of the film lie in it’s thoughtful, emotional core, that cleverly aligns our sympathies with both apes and humans and makes for a moving and thoroughly rewarding experience that is far removed from the one-dimensionality of today’s brainless blockbusters.

REVIEW: RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

CAST
James Franco (Spring Breakers)
Freida Pinto (The Immortals)
Andy Serkis (The Hobbit)
John Lithgow (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Brian Cox (X-Men 2)
Tom Felton (Harry Potter)
David Oyelowo (Interstellar)
Tyler Labine (Deadbeat)
Jamie Harris (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D)
David Hewlett (Splice)
Will Rodman, a scientist at the San Francisco biotech company Gen-Sys, is testing the viral-based drug ALZ-112 on chimpanzees to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. ALZ-112 is given to a chimp named Bright Eyes, greatly increasing her intelligence. However, during Will’s presentation for the drug, Bright Eyes is forced from her cage, goes on a rampage, and is killed. Will’s boss Steven Jacobs terminates the project and orders the chimps euthanized. However, Will’s assistant Robert Franklin discovers that Bright Eyes had recently given birth to an infant chimp. Will agrees to take in the chimp, who is named Caesar. Will learns that Caesar has inherited his mother’s intelligence and decides to raise him. Three years later, Will introduces Caesar to the redwood forest at Muir Woods National Monument. Meanwhile, Will treats his dementia-suffering father Charles with ALZ-112, which seems to restore his cognitive ability.
When Caesar reaches adolescence and sees a dog on a leash like his own, he questions his identity and learns of his origins from Will. Meanwhile, Charles’s condition returns as his Alzheimer’s becomes resistant to ALZ-112. Caesar injures a neighbor, Douglas Hunsiker, while defending a confused Charles. As a result, he is placed in a primate shelter where he is treated cruelly by the other chimps and the chief guard, Dodge Landon. Caesar learns how to unlock his cage, gaining free access to the common area. With the assistance of a gorilla named Buck, he confronts the sanctuary’s alpha chimp and claims that position. Meanwhile, Jacobs clears development of a more powerful, gaseous version of the drug – ALZ-113 – when Will tells him it can not only heal brain diseases but also improve intelligence. Will takes the drug home to try to save his father, but Charles declines further treatment and dies overnight.
 
After attempting to test the drug on a scarred bonobo test subject named Koba, Franklin becomes exposed to ALZ-113 and becomes ill. Attempting to warn Will at his home, he sneezes blood onto Hunsiker and is later discovered dead. Will attempts to reclaim Caesar, but the chimp refuses to go home with him. Instead, he escapes from the facility and returns to Will’s house, where he takes canisters of the ALZ-113. Upon returning, Caesar releases the gas and allows it to enhance the intelligence of the other apes. When Dodge attempts to get him back into his cage, Caesar shocks him by speaking for the first time, yelling “No!” Caesar then electrocutes the cattle prod-wielding Dodge by spraying him with water, unintentionally killing him. The apes flee the facility, release the remaining chimps from Gen-Sys, and free more apes from the San Francisco Zoo.
A battle ensues as the ape army fights their way past a police blockade on the Golden Gate Bridge to escape into the redwood forest. Buck sacrifices himself to save Caesar by jumping onto the helicopter in which Jacobs is riding. The helicopter crashes onto the bridge, trapping Jacobs in the wreckage. Jacobs is then killed by Koba. As the apes find their way into the forest, Will arrives and warns Caesar that the humans will hunt them down, and begs him to return home. In response, Caesar hugs him and says that, “Caesar is home.” Will, realizing that this is indeed their last goodbye, respects Caesar’s wishes. In a mid-credits scene, an infected Hunsiker leaves his house for work as an airline pilot, arriving at San Francisco International Airport for his flight to Paris. His nose begins to drip blood onto the floor. A graphic traces the spread of the humanity-ravaging virus around the globe via international flight routes.
A  very clever attempt at a prequel, explaining how the rise of the apes began. Given the current news surrounding Ebola and its daily inexorable spread, the ending credits of this film are rather chilling to watch.

REVIEW: BEHIND THE PLANET OF THE APES

CAST
Roddy McDowall (Batman: The Animated Series)
Charlton Heston (Ben-Hur)
Kim Hunter (A Streetcar Named Desire)
Linda Harrison (Batman: The Series 1966)
Ricardo Montalban (Star Trek II)
James Naughton (Hostages)
 


This release was first broadcast by American Movie Classics (AMC) and is hosted by the late Roddy McDowell who played “Cornelius”. Included here is three plus hours of footage (in addition to the main documentary) that will be most welcome to fans of the series and a pleasant surprise to those like myself who are not that familiar with “Apes”. All five films in the series are covered and trailers included for all. Also here is the 1967 North American Theatre Owners (NATO) presentation as well as a fascinating screen test featuring Charlton Heston and Edward G. Robinson, who was originally tapped to play Heston’s ape nemesis, but later bowed out due to health concerns.


All in all, this will appeal to two groups of DVD fans-those that love the “Apes” series and those who love behind the scenes and “the making of” type documentaries.

REVIEW: RETURN TO THE PLANET OF THE APES

CAST (VOICES)
Austin Stoker (Assault on Precint 13)
Philippa Harris (The Outside man)
Henry Corden (Thundarr The Barbarian)
Claudette Nevins (Sleeping With The Enemy)
Richard Blackburn (Blue State)
Tom Williams (Adam-12)

After ploughing through the theatrical movies, (minus the Burton clunker) and the hugely enjoyable live action tv show I found myself wondering with trepidation if this dimly remembered cartoon from my childhood would satisfy my continued craving for ape nostalgia. With some degree of concern I popped the disc into my player and sat back for the first episode Flames of Doom. As the opening credits unfold we see distant ape soldiers signaling each other across the barren landscape of the Forbidden Zone as the camera sweeps past the inverted, crucified bodies of human figures.


After crash-landing in a dessert oasis, three astonauts, Jeff, Judy and Bill find that they have flipped forward to the year 3810 where a highly developed society of apes war with the less acomplished clans of humans. The humans are cave dwellers and do not have the developed language, culture and sophistication of the ape society. The three humans continue to protect the clans from atacks by the bullish General Urko and Dr Zaius with help from two sympathetic chimps, Cornelius and Zira who are scientists interested in the forbidden knowlege of the ancient technological society of man.

Return has many plot elements from the movies. The opening is identical to the first film, Nova is present and in later episodes a character that is clearly a facsimile of Taylor appears. There’s the wall of flames in the Forbidden Zone that is used by the underground mutated survivors of mankind, (I love that the mutants refer to Judy as Usa because they find a bust of her with USA carved on it) to scare the apes away and battle scenes between humans and apes that are reminiscent but on a larger scale of the last movie but the apes live in a much more evolved Ape City, (as in the original source novel by Pierre Boulle) which looks like Caligula’s Rome with it’s grand architecture and statues. They talk about the new movie The Apefather, (The Godfather was not long released) have TV and newspaper media and even read the collected works of William Apespear, ho ho! There are a few monsters thrown in like a water serpent, a flying dinosaur and a Kong-like albino ape that lives in the frozen mountains with a peace-loving clan of ape monks to keep the kids happy, but what is most impressive is that the narrative arcs across all the episodes with plot points reccuring later in the story.

More difficult to come to terms with is the animation which BARELY qualifys for that description. The look of the show is very static with many uses of repeat shots and minimal movement in most scenes. It’s almost like reading an old 70’s tie in annual while listening to a sound effects record. The old 70’s standby of characters running past the same windows and doors in chase scenes is well in evidence. That said the backgrounds on which the characters are render onto are often highly detailed and sometimes quite beautifully done and once your eye accepts this old-school style of animation you can appreciate there is some level of artstry involved and the opening credits are scary and really well done.

The performances are staid and strangely unemotional with only Henry Corden’s Urko distinguishing himself once you get over the fact that Corden was the second actor to voice the highly recognisable tones of Mr Fred Flintstone. There is a trailer for the next episode at the end of each show and as I progressed through the thirteen episodes across two discs I found myself looking forward to the next instalment with increasing vigour. The show only ran for one season and while it comes to some degree of resolution the end is left open for more story that was never completed. Still thats more of an ending than the TV show gave us.

Produced by the Pink Panther team and with a creepy score by Carry On Composer Eric Rodgers RTTPOA is a strange hybrid of childrens entertainment mashed into the darker themes of the ape universe that grew on me and improved as it continued. I would reservedly recommend this to ape-heads who need a final fix or fans of old-school saturday morning cartoons.

REVIEW: BATTLE FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES

CAST
Roddy McDowall (Batman: The Animated Series)
Claude Akins (Murder She Wrote)
Natalie Trundy (Huckaberry Finn)
Severn Darden (Beyond Westworld)
Lew Ayres (Johnny Belinda)
Paul Williams (Smokey and The Bandit)
Austin Stoker (Assault on Precint 13)
Told as a flashback to the early 21st century with a wraparound sequence narrated by the orangutan Lawgiver (John Huston) in “North America – 2670 A.D.”, this sequel follows the ape leader Caesar (Roddy McDowall) years after a global nuclear war has destroyed civilization. In this post-nuclear society, Caesar tries to cultivate peace between the apes and the surviving humans. A gorilla general named Aldo (Claude Akins) however opposes this and plots Caesar’s downfall. Caesar is married to Lisa (Natalie Trundy), the female ape of the previous film, and they have a son named Cornelius (Bobby Porter) in honor of Caesar’s father. Caesar regrets never having known his parents until his human assistant MacDonald (Austin Stoker) tells him about film archives of his parents where he can also learn about the future. The archives are located in the Forbidden City, now a radioactive ruin. After obtaining a geiger counter and weapons from the armory, Caesar travels with MacDonald and orangutan Virgil (Paul Williams) to the Forbidden City and sneaks in to find the archives. However, there are mutants (radiation-scarred humans) still living there under the command of Governor Kolp (Severn Darden). Caesar and his party view the recordings of Cornelius and Zira and learn about the future of the world, but barely have time to study the tapes before they have to escape being captured. Caesar assembles a meeting to report his discoveries at the Forbidden City. Aldo objects when some humans show up and he leads the gorillas away. A team of scouts sent by Governor Kolp return and tell him about the Ape City. Kolp considers this covert trip by Caesar an act of espionage. His assistant Méndez (Paul Stevens) believes they did nothing wrong and should be left alone, but Governor Kolp stubbornly declares war on Ape City, mustering the humans to destroy the ape society.
Aldo is furious that Caesar wants to co-exist peacefully with humans and plots a coup d’état in order to become the Ape leader himself. Cornelius overhears this while trying to catch his escaped pet squirrel in a nearby tree. Aldo spots him and hacks the tree branch down, critically injuring Cornelius. After a gorilla scouting pair is attacked by the approaching humans (though the gorillas struck the first blow in this case by killing a human scout beforehand), Aldo orders all humans to be corralled and leads the gorillas to loot the weapons’ armory much to Virgil’s dismay. Cornelius eventually dies from his wounds, leaving Caesar devastated, but not without leaving him with a warning about Aldo’s coup.
It is at that moment that Kolp’s ragtag force launches their attack against Ape City. The initial mutant attack succeeds, forcing Caesar to order the defenders to fall back. When Kolp finds Caesar lying among dozens of apes, he threatens to kill him, but the fallen apes, who were feigning death or hiding on Caesar’s orders, launch a counter-attack that captures most of the mutants. Kolp and his remaining forces are killed by Aldo’s troops while attempting to retreat. After the battle, Aldo wants to kill the penned humans, but Caesar shields them. Aldo declares that Caesar should be killed if he shields the humans. However, Virgil reveals Aldo’s responsibility for Cornelius’ death and the breaking of the ape community’s most sacred law (“Ape shall never kill ape”). An infuriated Caesar pursues Aldo up a large tree, resulting in Aldo falling to his death during the fight. Caesar then attempts to free the humans, but they refuse to leave the pen unless humans are treated as equals. Caesar then realizes the apes are just as despicable as the former slave-owners. The apes and humans then decide to coexist with one another and begin a new society.
The Lawgiver finishes his wrap-around narration (he says it’s been over 600 years since the death of Caesar). It’s revealed he’s talking to a group of young humans and apes; apes and humans have continued to coexist in peace. When asked by a human child “Who knows about the future?”, the Lawgiver replies “Perhaps only the dead.” A closeup of a statue of Caesar shows a single tear falling from one eye.
Although the weakest of the five original films, it’s still great entertainment. The wonderfully comic script-writing in the armament scene with Mandemus is worthy of note.

 

REVIEW: CONQUEST OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

CAST
Roddy McDowall (Batman: The Animated Series)
Don Murray (Endless Love)
Natalie Trundy (Huckaberry Finn)
Hari Rhodes (Daktari)
Severn Darden (Beyond Westworld)
Lou Wagner (Chips)
John Randolph (Serpico)
Asa Maynor (Man Beast)
Ricardo Montalban (Star Trek II)
The opening titles set the film in “North America – 1991.” Armando (Ricardo Montalbán) explains that in 1983 (ten years after the end of Escape from the Planet of the Apes, which was set two years ahead of its theatrical release date), a disease killed the world’s cats and dogs, leaving humans with no pets. To replace them, humans began keeping apes as household pets. Realizing the apes’ capacity to learn and adapt, humans train them to perform household tasks. By 1991, American culture is based on ape slave labor (just as Cornelius described would happen in the previous film). It is also suggested that the North America of the 1990s is at least partly a police state, as apes and humans are being watched at all times. Armando and Caesar (Roddy McDowall), a young chimpanzee horseback rider in Armando’s circus, distribute flyers around a large city to advertise the circus’ arrival. Armando warns the chimpanzee to be careful….should anyone learn his identity as the son of Cornelius and Zira, it would mean their deaths. They see apes performing various menial tasks, and are shocked at the harsh discipline on disobedient apes. Seeing an ape being beaten and drugged, Caesar shouts “Lousy human bastards!” Quickly, Armando takes responsibility for the exclamation, explaining to the policemen that it was he who shouted, not his chimpanzee. The surrounding crowd becomes agitated, and Caesar flees.
Hiding in a stairway, Armando tells Caesar he will go to the authorities and bluff his way out of the situation. Meantime, Caesar has to hide among his own kind (in a cage of orangutans) and soon finds himself being trained for slavery through violent conditioning. He is then sold at auction to Governor Breck (Don Murray). Breck allows the ape to name himself by randomly pointing to a word in a book handed to him and the chimpanzee’s finger rests upon the name “Caesar”, feigning coincidence. Caesar is then put to work by Breck’s chief aide MacDonald (Hari Rhodes) who sympathizes with the apes to the thinly veiled disgust of his boss.
Meanwhile, Armando is being interrogated by Inspector Kolp (Severn Darden), who suspects his “circus ape” is the child of the two talking apes from the future. Kolp’s assistant puts Armando under a machine, “The Authenticator,” that psychologically forces people to be truthful. After admitting he had heard the name Cornelius before, Armando realizes he cannot fight the machine. A guard comes in to force him to continue the interrogation, but Armando struggles and jumps through a window falling to his death. Learning of the death of his foster father, the only human that cared for him, Caesar loses faith in human kindness and begins plotting a rebellion.
Secretly, Caesar teaches combat to the other apes and has them gather weapons. While doing an errand with Ceasar, MacDonald expresses concern for the rising problems and wished he could communicate with Caesar. Caesar exposes himself as the lost circus ape and tells MacDonald of his plans to depose Breck. MacDonald, while understanding of Caesar’s intent, has his doubts about the effectiveness of revolution, as well as Caesar being dismissive of all humans. Meanwhile, Breck learns from Kolp that the vessel which supposedly delivered Caesar is from a region with no native chimpanzees. Suspecting Caesar is the ape the police are hunting, Breck’s men arrest Caesar and electrically torture him until he speaks. Hearing him speak, Breck orders Caesar’s immediate death. Caesar survives his execution because MacDonald lowers the machine’s electrical output well below lethal levels. Once Breck leaves, Caesar kills his torturer and escapes.
Caesar begins his revolution with the first objective to capture Ape Management. The apes are victorious after killing most of the riot police. After bursting into Breck’s command post and killing most of the personnel, Caesar has Breck marched out to be executed. MacDonald, whose ancestors had been slaves, begs Caesar not to succumb to brutality and show mercy to one’s former masters. Caesar ignores him and in a rage declares: Where there is fire, there is smoke. And in that smoke, from this day forward, my people will crouch, and conspire, and plot, and plan for the inevitable day of Man’s downfall. The day when he finally and self-destructively turns his weapons against his own kind. The day of the writing in the sky, when your cities lie buried under radioactive rubble! When the sea is a dead sea, and the land is a wasteland out of which I will lead my people from their captivity! And we shall build our own cities, in which there will be no place for humans except to serve our ends! And we shall found our own armies, our own religion, our own dynasty! And that day is upon you NOW!
As the apes raise their rifles to beat Breck to death,, Caesar’s love interest Lisa (Natalie Trundy) voices her objection, “NO!” She is the first ape to speak other than Caesar. Caesar reconsiders and orders the apes to lower their weapons, saying: 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!
The stirring speech given by Caesar at the end of the film is one of the best moments in the “Planet…” series of films. The film certainly gets you to think, and the points raised have never subdued in their relevance since the films release in ’72.