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MJ5K's Review

Created Apr 20, 2012 08:25PM PST • Edited Apr 20, 2012 08:25PM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Good 3.0

    At the time of its release, a sequel to the sci-fi classic Planet of the Apes seemed simply unnecessary. How does somebody go beyond the film’s post-apocalyptic vision? How does somebody go beyond the shock and awe of the first film? How does somebody go beyond the Planet of the Apes?

    Planet of the Apes proved to be a revolutionary film. Not only did it break new grounds in filmmaking, but it was also a huge hit. So, in Hollywood, money means sequel. Numerous ideas were put forth. None of them worked. That was until producer Arthur P. Jacobs brought in Paul Dehn, best known for the James Bond classic Goldeneye. His script was as good as it could get.

    The film picks up where the last movie left off. Astronaut Taylor (Charlton Heston, returning for only a reduced screen time) heads off into the forbidden zone with mate Nova. Meanwhile, an astronaut named Brent (Heston look-alike James Franciscus) crash lands on the planet on a rescue mission to find Taylor. Instead he finds Nova, who leads him to Ape City. There we learn that the gorillas, led by Dr. Zaius (Maurice Evans) and General Ursus (James Gregory), are planning a raid on the Forbidden Zone. Brent’s journey takes him through Ape City, into the Forbidden Zone with Nova, and all the way beneath the Planet of the Apes, where he discovers a buried city of mutants who worship an Atom Bomb. Is this the end of the Planet of the Apes? Or just the beginning?

    This film’s production faced a couple of issues. First of all, the reduced budget. As a result, the make-up was reduced and many of the actors simply wore pull-over masks. This was a movie-mistake that proved to be pretty obvious in the final cut. The second was Heston’s reluctance to come back. He didn’t want to commit to a movie franchise so he compromised that he would return but die in the first scene, and that the producers give his pay to a charity. The producers compromised again with Heston saying that he would return but disappear in the opening scene and return at the end. Heston agreed and would later suggest the film’s ultimate ending, as he grew weary of the thought of more Apes films.

    The script carries many political messages like the first film, however they don’t come off quite as strong this time around. The allegories and allusions to political issues the country had faced at the time range from messages about race to messages about war. They’re simply not as subtle as they were in the first movie. And without that subtlety, it doesn’t make you contemplate the issues. It merely frustrates you by bashing you over the head with these messages. Not only that, but many of the plot devices are quite ridiculous. Now true, the predecessor was a film about a planet where apes walked and talked. However, this movie goes further with mystical elements. Some of it works, such as the underground city of what was New York and the mutants’ mind control power.

    The acting is good for what it is but nothing too great. Newcomer Franciscus was chosen mostly because he reminded people of Heston. He was basically just a smaller version of Heston, but took it just as serious and played it just as over the top. Most of the main players return as well. Maurice Evans returns as Dr. Zaius along with Linda Harrison as Nova for a large portion of the movie. Kim Hunter’s role as Zira is reduced from her role in the first film. Roddy McDowall (a major player in the apes franchise) unfortunately was unable to reprise his role as Cornelius and was replaced by David Watson. James Gregory joins the cast as the radical General Ursus, leader of the gorilla army, and gives an engaging performance.

    Though far from perfect and far from reaching the same excellence as the first film, BTPOTA is still an enjoyable sequel to the sci-fi classic and has some elements that make it very interesting. Not a bad movie. A good one.

  3. Good 3.0
  4. Male Stars Very Good 3.5
  5. Female Stars Good 3.0
  6. Female Costars Good 3.0
  7. Male Costars Very Good 3.5
  8. Good 3.0
  9. Direction Good 3.0
  10. Play Good 3.0
  11. Music Good 3.0
  12. Visuals Good 3.0
  13. Content
  14. Risqué 1.7
  15. Sex Innocent 1.0
  16. Violence Brutal 3.0
  17. Rudeness Polite 1.0
  18. Fantasy 5.0
  19. Circumstantial Fantasy 5.0
  20. Biological Fantasy 5.0
  21. Physical Fantasy 5.0


Subscribe to Beneath the Planet of the Apes 2 replies, 2 voices
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Apr 21, 2012 8:37PM

Regarding MJ5K’s Review
Very true, Wick. I actually hadn’t thought about it that way.

Apr 21, 2012 12:24AM

Regarding MJ5K’s Review
Another impressively comprehensive review of the PotA franchise MJ.

Reflecting on Beneath, it strikes me that it marked one of the first SciFi franchises. It was hardly the first sequel or even franchise in Hollywood history, but franchises were previously limited to James Bond and/or silly serials like Road to Morocco.

Beneath the Planet of the Apes came out of nowhere and fancied itself a serious SciFi film. We take that for granted today. Hell, we expect it. Back then it was something new.