The world is shocked by the appearance of three talking chimpanzees, who arrived mysteriously in a U.S. spacecraft. They become the toast of society, but one man believes them to be a threat to the human race.
In a futuristic world that has embraced ape slavery, Caesar, the son of the late simians Cornelius and Zira, surfaces after almost twenty years of hiding out from the authorities, and prepares for a slave revolt against humanity.
J. Lee Thompson
Ten years after a worldwide series of ape revolutions and a brutal nuclear war among humans, Caesar must protect survivors of both species from an insidious human cult and a militant ape faction alike.
J. Lee Thompson
Brent is an American astronaut, part of a team sent to locate missing fellow American astronaut, George Taylor. Following Taylor's known flight trajectory, the search and rescue team crash lands on an unknown planet much like Earth in the year 3955, with Brent being the only survivor of the team. What Brent initially does not know, much like Taylor didn't initially know when he landed here before Brent, is that he has landed back on Earth in the future, in the vicinity of what was New York City. Brent finds evidence that Taylor has been on the planet. In Brent's search for Taylor, he finds that the planet is run by a barbaric race of English speaking apes, whose mission is in part to annihilate the human race. Brent eventually locates some of those humans, who communicate telepathically and who live underground to prevent detection by the apes. These humans, who are in their own way as barbaric as the apes, want in turn to protect their species. Brent has to figure out a way to save ...Written by
The ladder in the subway station begins a few feet above the floor. When Brent beckons Nova to follow him up, the side shot of her shows how she would have to step/grab very high up to reach the bottom rung. However, the overhead shot of her shows her stepping on the first rung as if it was a few inches off the floor. See more »
[reads from the holy scripts]
"Beware the beast man, for he is the devil's pawn. Alone among God's primates, he kills for sport or lust or greed. Yea, he will murder his brother to possess his brother's land. Let him not breed in great numbers, for he will make a desert of his home, and yours. Shun him... for he is the harbinger of death."
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The 20th Century Fox logo does not appear on this film. See more »
Of the five "Planet of the Apes" films only the first one and its sequel "Beneath" are truly great and worthwhile. The three prequels devolve in quality: "Escape from" is decent, "Conquest of" is okay and "Battle for" is poor.
"Beneath" (1970) is the only actual sequel, hence, both the original and "Beneath" should be digested as one long story.
THE PLOT: An astronaut, James Franciscus, lands on the ape planet in search of Taylor and his crew. He makes contact with a primitive babe who knew Taylor (Nova, played by Linda Harrison) and then embarks upon a quest to find him -- leading first to the ape city (where he discovers that apes rule the planet) and then to the "forbidden zone," a holocaust-ruined wasteland where psychic mutants dwell underground.
Growing up I always favored "Beneath" above the original. Why? Possibly because "Beneath" has a lot more action, especially toward the end, and the concept of the underground psychic mutants was both eerie and captivating. As an adult, however, I've come to appreciate the original in increasing measure; it's deeper than "Beneath," more intellectual. I now believe that each film has its strengths and weaknesses and they compliment each other well.
Many criticize James Franciscus as a weak Heston (Taylor) clone. Although this is a valid complaint (Linda Harrison described Franciscus as a smaller version of Charleton Heston) and Heston is indeed inimitable (so don't even try), I never had a problem with Franciscus in this film. He does a fine job in the role of the stranded astronaut on a planet of madness. His character, Brent, isn't disillusioned with humanity like Taylor, so he has less of an 'edge,' but Brent is a fine generic 'everyman' that we can all relate to.
All the great main characters from the first film are present. Aside from Nova and Taylor, the story features Dr. Zaius (Maurice Evans), Zira (Kim Hunter) and Cornelius. Unfortunately Roddy McDowall wasn't available to play Cornelius so they brought in David Watson for the part, which isn't much of a problem because you can't tell beneath all that ape make-up and Watson does a splendid job mimicking McDowall.
A new, equally great character is introduced and that is Ursus, the gorilla general, played by James Gregory (remember him from the original Star Trek episode "Dagger of the Mind" as Dr. Adams?). Who could ever forget Ursus' motivational speech "The only good human is a DEAD human!!" ?
***SPOILER ALERT CONCERNING THE NATURE OF THE MUTANTS*** It is revealed in the story that the psychic mutants are human caricatures who literally worship the "doomsday bomb," a bomb capable of destroying the entire planet. Evidently, human beings need something to worship even in a wholly devolved state -- truly, humankind is incurably religious. This may be a negative reflection on dead religion, which is the human attempt to connect with God ('religion' means "to bind back"), but it certainly isn't a negative reflection on biblical Christianity, which concerns the Almighty connecting with humanity through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the subsequent life-birthing power of the Holy Spirit. In any event, the perverted religious nature of the psychic mutants is nothing less than fascinating, albeit a bit laughable at times, e.g. "the holy fallout." ***END SPOILER***
There are numerous great scenes and images, for example, the gorillas marching in the forbidden zone and the gigantic appearance of the revered ape Lawgiver with a bleeding face, ultimately collapsing into a desert inferno.
Some criticize that the first half of the story is merely an inferior repeat of the original film (astronaut crashlands, discovers that apes rule the planet and ends up in ape city), but -- you know what? -- it was great the first time around, why not experience it again with some nuances? (Especially since "Beneath" was released 3 YEARS after the original). Hey, I admit that this section of "Beneath" isn't as great as the original, it's even kind of boring (that is, after seeing the first film), but WAIT till Brent and Nova escape ape city and discover the underground lair of the psychic mutants; the film is captivating from then on.
One beef I've always had with "Beneath" is that Leonard Rosenman's blaring score is mediocre compared to Jerry Goldsmith's original. It properly mimics the original but can't cut it. Why didn't they just re-use Goldsmith's score? On a technical level, "Beneath" isn't nearly as good as the original due to obvious budget limitations. The subpar score is one example; another would be the all-too-obvious pull-over ape masks in certain scenes. But these are minor cavils and never prevented me from wholly enjoying the flick. Still, I could see why some would give the film a lower rating.
The climax is KILLER -- and I mean that literally -- as Brent ultimately finds Taylor and the gorillas invade the mutants' underground turf. Some great action entails and then... well, I can't give away the ultra-downer ending, can I? Regardless, I always loved the ending; in its own way it's just as great as the climax of the original.
Needless to say, "Beneath the Planet of the Apes" is mandatory viewing. I wouldn't even take calls from film fans who don't have "Beneath" in their video library and hold it dear.
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