DIRECTOR: J. Lee Thompson
May Contain Spoilers!
The last of the original Planet Of The Apes film series, Battle For The Planet Of The Apes follows the noble empire building exploits of Ape leader Caesar, as he tries in vain to live along side what is left of human kind. Following the Ape’s uprising at the end of Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes, (SPOILER!!!) a nuclear holocaust followed, leaving Caesar, the son of Cornelius and Zera from the first three films, to led the Apes to salvation, whilst still fighting the remnants of mankind which have survived in the nearby desolated city, which has been destroyed by The Bomb years earlier.
It’s pretty straight forward after that, almost playing out as an episode of Star Trek, even casting a few of its guest stars in supporting roles, with Ape Vs. Human action leading to the obvious Ape victory. The philosophy of this film is interesting though. Like Star Trek, its plot relies on action, with Apes acting more like humans than anything else, not as they do in later remakes such as Tim Burton’s 2001 version of the Original or 2011’s Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, which is in many respects a remake of Conquest, with this sort of serving as a sequel?
The high moral code of Caesar’s Planet Of The Apes is clear an allegory of Christianity, but is also well balanced with the conflict of resolving threats with violence. The debate rages throughout, as the Ape’s first law is that “Ape must never kill Ape”, but their human counterparts who share their camp are treated inconsistently as both pets and equals, as the mood suits. Roddy McDowell made the roles of Cornelius, Caesar and later, Galen in the following short run TV series, and he plays the part of the conflicted Caesar well, with a touch of aggression when needed whilst striving for peace.
There’s an intelligence to this film which can easily be over shadowed by some shoddy and wooden acting, often low production values and the fact after five films, this isn’t Charlton Heston’s Planet Of The Apes, and that it follows the very enjoyable but fundamentally flawed third instalment, Escape From The Planet Of The Apes, where Cornelius and Zera manage to un-sink a space craft from a lake and fly it back in time using Einstein’s Theory of relativity! But again, it’s a positive that the franchise remained consistent to the established story regardless of who far off kilter it had gotten.
Star Trek, The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, One Step Beyond: they have all lent something to this franchise from day one, with Rod Serling himself co-writing the original’s screenplay and whilst being successfully compared to string of 60’s TV shows highlights the lower production values, it also points to its illustrious Science Fiction routes, infusing both theoretical science and philosophical postulation to asked and answer the question of what would the world be like, if it was indeed, a Planet Of The Apes?