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Could Have Been Great! But boy! It Sucks to be Brent!
jbirtel14 July 2002
Warning: Spoilers
(Major Spoilers!!!) "Beneath..." has to rank as one of the meanest movies ever made in its treatment to its main character. Consider this...Brent wakes up to his space ship's crash landing, realizing it's 3955(?)[what happened to 3978?], so everyone he ever knew except Skipper is dead...then skipper dies too! He finds out that (gulp) apes rule, then gets shot for his discovery (same as Taylor). Is rewarded with white, stinging "vet" powder plentifully poured on his (still bleeding) gunshot wound, by Zira. Gets captured and sentenced to ape target practice; en route he gets an ape boot shoved into his larynx while said ape tries to pull his arm off. Escapes while apes on horseback fire their guns at him. Goes underground and realizes where he's at. Painful!...and the movie is only into its first 45 minutes. What else can happen to the poor guy? his mental stability starts heading toward the brink of insanity, he does some depressing sight-seeing, watches helplessly as mind control forces him to near drown Nova, then face telepathic inquisitors who proceed to scare the crap out of him with a whoosh of fire, fry his ear drums with high pitch sound waves, thought-project agonizing, searing pain that contorts his whole body and again, he watches helplessly as he's forced to near suffocate (poor) Nova with a brutal passionless loo-oong kiss. Then!... he's required to sit still during mass (for some people, this is very painful) and realizes that everyone else in attendance is a replicant of "Gray's Anatomy". He then catches up with friend Taylor (finally)...and Taylor proceeds to beat the crap out of him too, by kicking him in the face and chest, strangling him, shoving his back into cell bars with long sharp spikes sticking out, mercilessly stepping on his face, strangling him some more and delivering some shattering right hooks to the jaw (all under mind control, of course). After the fight, instead of friendly gossip, they realize they're about 100 yards away from an active bomb, not just any old bomb, but THE Doomsday Bomb. And they're trapped inside a locked cell. And an army of Militia Apes are attacking! Finally... escape! but Nova ain't coming. Back to the church, Brent witnesses Taylor (after spending the whole movie trying to locate him) get fatally shot, knows he's now alone and goes on a one man kamikaze assault with his one puny rifle against 100 gorilla sub machine guns. And if that ain't enough, THEN he runs out of ammo! And he doesn't even get the satisfaction of seeing Taylor's final efforts. What happens to him is what you'd want to see happen to the worst of villains, but not to the heroic character. After all this, it would have been better to stay in bed.

That aside, "Planet of the Apes" WAS a tough act to follow. "Beneath the Planet of the Apes" cinematography does border on spectacle and alot of credit should go to director Ted Post for getting alot more out of the half baked premise and limitations he was trapped in. Many still frames and action sequences from the film are just as epic-like, colorful and bizarre that is on par with (and in many instances, exceeds) the original; but the editing in the original surpasses the sequel!(not Ted's fault). Still..."Beneath's" camera angles are far superior than any of the sequels that followed. Composer Leornard Rosenman created a very eerie, foreboding music score that touches on some semblance to Jerry Goldsmith's music from the original, while taking it into a different direction that effectively captures the mood of the film that works perfectly. It's unavoidable that both "Planet" and "Beneath..." have a flavor of their own considering all obstacles, so it's appropriate that the both scores follow suit in different scales; they're both brilliant.

Charlton Heston can't be blamed for his lack of enthusiasm, considering what he was presented with. If a more fuller and better continuation of the story was better fleshed out...who knows (after all, look at his lone survivor interpretation from "The Omega Man", not far removed from his position at the end of "Planet..."). But a more diversified storyline was necessary that needed splitting the story between Taylor and the Apes which changed the flow of what followed previously...because the first movie was presented subjectively through the eyes of Taylor. The addition of the new elements that carried the narrative forward was not going to be consistent with director Franklin Schaffner's original subjective approach to the first "Apes" that made it so successful. So it's very appropriate that James Franciscus' 'Brent' is allowed to discover Ape City because the Apes are one of the main reason people would want to return to the story anyway. The other reason is Taylor! (and Nova). And that is the main problem. Because, NO sequel was ever planned for Planet of the Apes! If a storyline was preplanned then this may have paralleled author Pierre Boulle's excellent 'Bridge on the River Kwai' more closely if additional characters were already evident, like the way the story in 'Kwai' continued after William Holden escapes from the prison camp (as Heston did from Ape City) while the events flipped back and forth between Holden's increasing dilemma and that of Alec Guiness' misguided actions. Sadly, (because it's only 1967 before sequels were recognized as obvious cash cows) 'Planet...' didn't have the luxury of foresight of the epic possibilities that could have logically continued the story forward in the same care and quality. Thus we're left with a more emphasis on action orientation, less on character growth and a more speedy presentation that's intended to camouflage the story's inadequacy.

It's almost easy to say that "Beneath..." is better appreciated on its own merit, as an almost separate entity from "Planet..." because of its radical introduction to science fiction elements new to the story. But it's not that easy! Comparison is unavoidable!

On the many plus sides are: James Gregory's scene stealing 'General Ursus' that propels the conflict between ape and man (especially his rousing call-to-arms speech); Maurice Evans' 'Dr.Zaius' who steals scenes right back; the buried underground scenes, the Ape Army on the move, Cornelius and Zira's home; Brent and Nova's underground odyssey; the steam bath; more (if brief) views of Ape City and the cages; General Ursus' helmet symbolically backed by the many more militant gorillas; and the under rated James Franciscus who took upon himself to further flesh out more of his character's heroic attributes. And ANY scene with Taylor! that is all too brief.

One thing is near certain: "Beneath..." is never boring in its breakneck pace in storytelling. but it could have been better if there weren't so many 'egos' involved in the decision-making process of delivering a quality continuation of the Apes saga. Just think of the possibility if Nova was able to retain her pregnancy scene cut from the first film, the bomb wasn't doomsday, and she survives the end of the second film.

Still kind of fun entertainment!

6 out of 10
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"We were following Taylor's trajectory, so whatever happened to us must have happened to him."
The_Movie_Cat21 April 2001
Beneath was the best Planet of the Apes film bar none. Everything was bigger and better this time around: bigger sets, more gorillas, the whole of New York instead of a mere Statue of Liberty, and, best of all, faceless, telepathic mutants than can kill with the mind. Yes, I was once ten years old.

Watched again with many years of hindsight, it's clear that, while entertaining, Beneath was produced without anything approaching artistry. The ultimate in sequels, it tries to tell the same story twice as big, but with only half the success. Until Battle came along and picked the flesh off Apes' rotting carcass this was the worst sequel because it did nothing new with the format. Even the working title - Planet of the Apes Revisited - betrays the lack of thought and the desire for finance that went into this one.

A virtually identical plotline rattles along at a fair pace, meaning all subtlety is jettisoned. The allegories are also confused by not really being allegories at all. Look at the metaphor for anti-war protestors by casting chimps as ... er, anti-war protestors. A look at how man often judges another man on the colour of his skin is alluded to ... er, by having an ape judging a man on the colour of his skin. (On this note, perversely for a film that purports liberal satire, the only one of the mutants to demonstrate real cruelty was Don Pedro Colley, the sole black character in the film. And despite its worthiness, I don't think I've ever seen another film where a man's credit is given as "Negro"). However, I did have to smile at the chimp that punningly complains about "gorilla brutality".

The decreased budget (a sensible studio idea to cut the finance of the sequels to a hit movie) shows with some of the ape extras having decidedly ropy masks in the crowd scenes. The opening of the picture also recaps the first, cannily highlighting the glaring difference between Roddy McDowall's and David Watson's performances as Cornelius. Watson, standing in for an absent McDowall, does reasonably well but really doesn't look anything like him, even under latex. Note too how all the ape masks give the actors lisps, something I never noticed before. Never mind apes, anyone would think James Franciscus had landed on the planet of the Pertwees. There's also some abysmal back projection work when Franciscus is wrestling on top of the horsedrawn carriage. The mutants are pretty good, though their prayers to "The Holy Fallout" are a little silly. Why do they wear human masks anyway? Where do they make them? I dunno, I don't make the rules up, do I?

Of course, the main problem is the pointless game of one-upmanship it plays with its source. There's no longer any element of surprise that this is Earth, so the ruined monuments, nice as they are, no longer have any great effect. It misses the point, also: the Statue of Liberty is not just a relic, but a symbol. New York Subway is just where people caught trains. And as impressive as the effects are, if not directed well – which they aren't, particularly – then it becomes fatuous.

It's weird how all four sequels were made within a year of each other, yet at least two of them tried something new. Beneath came two years after the original yet has a rehashed "in it for the money" feel all the way through, right down to its abrupt, slightly unsatisfactory climax. Yet despite the many, many faults I've levelled at it, Beneath the Planet of the Apes is still a very enjoyable film. Not in the sense of the first, which genuinely had something to say, but in the guise of pulp SF then this sequel is well worth seeing. In fact, despite the slating I've given it, I still awarded it 6/10.
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Again the Apes along with an underground civilization of mutated human beings living in subway system
ma-cortes21 October 2010
Good and frantic science-fiction movie with a first rate James Franciscus and special intervention of Charlton Heston who literally disappears in the beginning and re-appears on the ending . This known story is the second and best of the primates sequels ; it starts when Brent (James Franciscus) through the same time warp crashes on the far planet and meets the gorgeous native Nova (Linda Harrison). At the start they trek across the desert , after that he learns the culture where simians rule over humans and they are divided in three lineage : gorilla , chimpanzee and orangutan . Later on, he discovers humanity has gone awry and now is slave and reduced to beasts . Man is treated as animal of burden and regarded as scum . A couple of chimps named Cornelius (David Watson replacing Roddy McDowall) and Zira(Kim Hunter) think otherwise and even agree Brent escape , following the same traces as Taylor (Charlton Heston) . Meanwhile, an expedition commanded by militaristic General Ursus (James Gregory) and Dr. Zaius(Maurice Evans) sets out the forbidden zone where live human mutants (Victor Buono, Jeff Corey , among them) who survived a nuclear explosion several years before . Brent and Nova find an underground civilization in the ruins of bomb-blasted N.Y.C. until a downbeat and bleak final with the mutants worshipping a nuclear missile .

This is a nice sci-fi flick plenty of metaphysical significance with thoughtful reflexion about origin of human being and nuclear catastrophe , though also packs action, adventures, intrigue and entertainment. In spite of time and being mostly a replay of the original movie , energy remains still and turns out to be an enjoyable following full of fantasy and suspense . Exciting writing credits by Paul Dehn and Mort Abrahams from Pierre Boulle novel . One of the important attributes of this work, is the magnificent , spectacular production design with excellent sets by Walter Scott and great visual effects by means of matte paintings by L.B. Abbot . Glimmer and luminous cinematography by Milton Krasner. Phenomenal make-up by John Chambers, a first-rate expert, such as proved in 'Blade runner, Ssss, Island of Dr Moreau' among others . Sensational musical score by a top-notch Leonard Rosenman though imitating sounds from the great Jerry Goldsmith .The picture is lavishly produced by usual Arthur P. Jacobs , producer of whole saga, and well directed by Ted Post , realizing a similar work to Franklyn J Schaffner , utilizing a great visual sense.

It's followed by three inferior sequels that get worse and a TV series, 'Escape of planet of apes'(71, Don Taylor), 'Conquest of planet of apes'(72, J. Lee Thompson), 'Battle for the planet of apes'(73, J.Lee Thompson)
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nihilistic weirdness is surprisingly effective
Raegan Butcher6 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The first film is awesome. But the 2nd one was always my favorite. It has strange desert locations, weird underground subway tunnels, odd melted cityscapes, telepathic mutants who worship a "doomsday bomb". It has more of Linda Harrison of the fabled fur bikini. It has both Chuck Heston and James Franciscus beating the crap out of each other! It has naked apes in steam-baths! I was always shocked by the nihilistic and super-violent ending when I saw this film as a child and a recent re-viewing shows it to still be a disturbingly grim bout of gun play. The director, Ted Post, also directed the 2nd of the Dirty Harry films and he shows a Peckinpah-like ability to "put the sting back in Death".

What is amusing today is watching the film conclude with James Franciscus pinned to a wall with bullet holes stitched across his chest and Chuck Heston clutching his bloody fingers to the "button" thus leading to the complete destruction of the entire planet...and then an old MPAA rating pops up immediately telling you you have just watched a G-Rated film!
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Far Beneath the original Apes Film
Bogmeister28 May 2006
This first sequel to the '68 science fiction hit has all the markings of something rushed into production. There was no time to craft a story which explores the truly interesting possibilities of astronaut Taylor's continuing odyssey on a future world turned upside down. The story could have and should have concentrated on the evolving struggle between the ruling class of apes and the backward humans. Instead, the filmmakers created a new threat for this film, a secret society of human mutants living underground. They show up in the 2nd half of this feature and, in prolonged scenes, show off their telepathic powers in torturing the heroes. The heroes, in this case, are another astronaut (Franciscus) who followed Taylor's trajectory to this other planet and Taylor himself (Heston, reprising his role briefly). Wow, what an original concept - another astronaut, who, in an accelerated version of the first film's events, also finds Ape City, encounters two sympathetic chimps, gets captured and escapes. Are we watching some kind of a repeat?

The quick pace of this picture is probably its best aspect; this stresses action. However, the pace is so fast that some crucial points in geography are sacrificed: getting to the Forbidden Zone from Ape City is just a short walk in a tunnel for some, while others have to trudge for days overhead. In a slight nod to the satirical aspects of the original film, we do get to see religion being mocked (the original satirized the social & political anchors of a community). But, it's not a very subtle jab. The mutants profess to be more intelligent than either the heroes or the apes, which they seem to prove with their advanced mind powers, but they spend most of their time worshiping a nuclear bomb, chanting silly songs - they really picked a strange form of idolatry, but maybe they're simply crazed. This movie throws together a lot of science fiction concepts but the resulting brew is rather bland. It's a decent action piece, not much more.

Franciscus shows he is no Heston; he overacts in most of his scenes, as if he had no clue on how to depict a man realizing where he's actually landed, but then again, he wasn't the skipper on this 2nd ship (the lead officer dies soon after they crash-land); we're not watching a leader but a follower try to carry the picture. I was struck by how Heston towered over him in their brutal fight scene. McDowall is also missing; his role of Cornelius is played by actor Watson. Evans & Gregory are pretty good as the ape leaders but whoever stuck them in ape suits for the sauna scene should have thought about it a few more minutes. This movie ends everything on a grotesquely conclusive note, but they managed to find a way to continue the story in "Escape From the Planet of the Apes."
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Much better than I had expected
zetes18 February 2005
As an avid fan of the original Planet of the Apes, I had always avoided the sequels (though unfortunately not the remake), thinking they'd be so cheesy that they would harm the greatness of the original. I finally got around to the first sequel, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, and, frankly, I'm surprised at how good it is. I'm a big fan of corny '70s sci-fi anyway, and Beneath is certainly cheaper and goofier than the original. But its themes and ideas are surprisingly intelligent, and it creates suspense and excitement very well. It also expands the mythology of its universe, which is always a positive to geeks like myself. I'd say the only big faults are the much smaller budget, which causes the ape makeup to appear much less convincing than it originally was, and the casting of a Charlton Heston impersonator to play the lead. The story is that James Franciscus is another astronaut looking for Heston and his crew. And since he eventually does find Heston, I don't understand why they wanted someone who looked so much like their original star.
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What Might Have Been.....
Eric-62-224 May 2000
"Beneath" is a film that epitomizes the best and worst that a sequel to a masterpiece, as "Planet Of The Apes" was, could be. For me, it is the most watchable of the sequels only because it's the only one that stays in the familiar territory established by the first film. But oh that ending....

I really can not understand why the heck Richard Zanuck allowed Charlton Heston to talk him into going with that downer ending that has already been referred to by others. The only reason why Heston pushed it wasn't because it made for good cinema but because he wanted to singlehandedly see to it that he never have to do another Apes sequel again. It's a pity that Heston never realized that the best sequel story one could have explored was what happened to Taylor and Nova afterwards, and could have made for some equally compelling drama as the first film did. To me, the main appeal of the first film wasn't the Ape society, it was the character of Taylor and his fascinating odyssey from misanthrope to defender of the species, only to see his earlier feelings borne out in the shock ending. The question that should have been addressed next in a sequel was, what would Taylor do now that he realized he was on Earth? What other things were there to discover on the planet? (Heck, you could have easily made a sequel movie without the apes returning, as far as I'm concerned!) Alas, because of the plot device imposed by this film (and Heston's inability to realize what a good thing he might have had going for himself), the rest of the series had to veer off into what was for me, a more uninteresting story line focusing on the Apes and their inevitable rise to power.

Plot holes and depressing ending notwithstanding, "Beneath" is still worth watching to see the traces of what could have been a great film that are there. The mutant storyline and their dwellings underneath the remains of New York still has an irresistible viewing quality to it. I do not recommend watching it in tandem with its magnificent predecessor though, because that's only going to make you more angry about the ending of this film.
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Spondonman21 August 2012
Warning: Spoilers
This started well, with the end of the previous excellent film. After that it's all downhill, and eventually, underground. But it has a jolly panache about it and through my rose-tinted spectacles any film that mixes up Star Trek, High Chaparral and Edgar Rice Burroughs is well worth watching.

US astronaut James Franciscus arrives on strange planet full of rocks and blue skies searching for Charlton Heston, previously lost in space. He immediately bumps into a very demure woman who turns out to be Heston's mate, goes on the hunt for him but then bumps into hundreds of warlike talking apes. For a while it seems to be going nowhere, which was causing me idly to fondly recall some old Monogram pictures, but it picks up and then dives headfirst into fantasy. Through many messy and improbable adventures they all end up in, well, in a messy and improbable Underground world populated by mutant humans. If this was a Star Trek TOS episode or a couple of chapters from a Martian book by Burroughs it'd be great, but this is almost laughably padded out to its doomsday ending. My TV didn't die on me!

However - I remember I loved it when a kid, so I refuse to completely dis it now. It's OK, 2D, a good time-passer, and from experience pretty much forgettable.
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That ending --- ironic?
nick.needham20 June 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Warning - spoiler ahead!!!! Don't read this unless you've already seen the film!!!

The ending of "Beneath", bemoaned by many, is surely an ironic comment on the ending of the original. In "Planet", Taylor condemns the human race for blowing up their world with nuclear weapons. In "Beneath", he is doomed to re-enact the very same atrocity. He blows up the new world with a nuclear weapon.

It can be seen only as an ironic & withering comment on human nature. Humanity doesn't change!

However, there's a brighter side. In "Planet" Taylor reveals himself as totally alienated from humanity, never having found love. He now finds it for the first time in Nova. When she is killed, he can't bear to go on living, & is quite willing to destroy the world that killed her. Love, it seems, is worth living for, & its destruction is ultimately world-destroying.
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Why The Critics Are Wrong
ewarn-13 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
My dog just died at the vet's, I was 10, so my mother, fearing for my emotional well being, stopped at the movie house to show me this flick.

Yeah, I can understand all the criticism directed at this movie, I can understand how it doesn't match up to the original concept, I can understand how they could have gone with another storyline and it might have worked better. But 'Beneath The Planet Of The Apes' was a product of its time, the studios rarely made sequels in the '60s, writers and producers were always looking for new ideas, and there were more talented and creative people in the film industry. They wanted something different, and they made it. So you gotta take it or leave it on that.

Now, back to my mother and me when I was ten. Thank God I wasn't watching some Disney movie, starring Kurt Russell and an invisible chimp, that would have depressed me more. Instead I got James Franciscus, crashing his spaceship in a nuclear wasteland, imprisoned by apes, forced to beat the crap out of a gorilla, making his way through destroyed subway tunnels, touring the subterranean ruins of New York, defying murderous mutilated mutants, killing people with spiked iron bars, punching Charlton Heston,and finally attacking a gorilla army single handed with a cool looking machine gun as the mutants are about to set off their "Doomsday Bomb". Hey-you cant get into that, you ain't even an American! They don't make them like this any more. The era of creative film-making is long over. Nowadays Bruce Willis will make the same movie ten times in a row. For all its faults, Beneath The Planet Of The Apes offered us something different, and in a very short running time too. It was meant to entertain, maybe throw in a little blatant social commentary, sell a few candy bars, and then fade away. But notice it hasn't faded away. People still watch this movie, and still like it, years after Die Hard disappears into a film vault. It has the mark of effort on it, and it's never boring.

The other reviews on here are all good, and their points are well taken. This is a sequel from an era without sequels, but it can stand on its own. I saw this never having seen the first movie. It was cool to a ten year old then, and fifty years from now, it will be cool to ten year olds of all ages.
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Doomsday movie with old world technology but high-end impact!
manjodude15 January 2011
This movie may not compare to the "Planet of the Apes" movies released in recent years that show off great outfits, makeup or special effects. But it makes up with sincere intention and thought-provoking message for mankind.

I felt the story was much bigger than the stars Charlton Heston or James Franciscus who both looked like they only played a small part in delivering a lesson on how we can either prevent or bring about doomsday on ourself. Which is how it should be, the plot should always be the bigger star.

Again, great message but everything else didn't rise up much. The performances were just decent(James Franciscus was the best) and some of the scenes had no proper continuity from one to the other.

Verdict: Anyways, this movie takes you back to an old world charm you hardly find today, and something for your mind to chew on long after it's over.
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Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) ***
JoeKarlosi16 February 2005
*** out of ****

I guess you could say that this first sequel to PLANET OF THE APES is a nostalgic pleasure for me; I got hooked on it as a child and while I still think it's an interesting followup to the original, as an adult I'm naturally more aware of its flaws. Yet it still works out as a good adventure film; less of a cerebral experience like PLANET OF THE APES, and more of a comic book story.

James Franciscus plays astronaut Brent, sent along the same trajectory as Taylor's (Charlton Heston's) old ship in an effort to rescue him. He crash-lands in the same vicinity as his friend, and goes through a similar nightmare when he comes to discover that the planet he's stranded on is dominated by intelligent, talking apes with a decidedly low opinion of mankind. General Ursus (James Gregory) is a war-hungry gorilla leader who's anxious to investigate strange unearthly occurrences in the Forbidden Zone with the aid of the ever-skeptical scientist Dr. Zaius (Maurice Evans in a reprisal of his role from Part One). Luckily, Brent runs into Taylor's mate, Nova (Linda Harrison looking prettier than she did in PLANET) and she is able to lead him to kindly chimpanzee couple, Zira (Kim Hunter) and Cornelius (David Watson this time; Roddy McDowall was busy directing a film). The pacifistic simians try to help their human friends along their journey to find Taylor, but Brent and Nova only succeed in getting themselves captured by gorillas anyway.

Up to this midway point in the film, all we're really seeing is a rehash of the first APES movie, which feels obligatory to set up the scenario. Where this chapter starts to develop its own identity and really take off is in its second half, as Brent and Nova escape and find themselves going underground (literally) in the Forbidden Zone and discovering the ruins of a ravaged city, along with a community of radiation-scarred mutations who have mastered mental telepathy and worship an atomic bomb as their god who has "created" them. And they know it won't be long before the Ape Army will invade their sanctuary.

Charlton Heston felt that sequels were not very challenging for an actor in those days, so at first he resisted appearing in this movie. He eventually agreed on what gradually evolved into a more extended "cameo" in BENEATH as a favor to Richard Zanuck, since the producer had taken a gamble on making the original film when Heston asked him to. The resulting sequel can be a downbeat and unusually pessimistic viewing experience, but in an odd way that actually helps to work in its favor. The next entry was ESCAPE FROM THE PLANET OF THE APES (1971).
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Classic Sci-Fi Adventure with a KILLER Ending
Wuchak14 March 2014
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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Seriously underrated.
JohnnyFrench15 February 2014
Warning: Spoilers
In my opinion, many people do not appreciate this movie as much as it deserves because they systematically compare it with "Planet of the apes". Sure, it is a sequel, but it has the good idea to show us aspects of the POTA universe we could not guess watching the first movie. For example, the "citizen council" part of the movie is amazing and allows us to see why this sort of theater in Ape city was built for. The existence of amazingly complex submachineguns can make us suppose that apes copied human military technologies for centuries, and so on. To make it short, we go further.

Plus, follow me or not, I think Ted Post's very classical directing aged much better than Franklin J. Schaffner's for the first movie. The "sometimes bizarre" directing of POTA is IMHO becoming a weakness as time gradually passes.

It does not mean this movie is unflawed. Sure, from time to time, budget limitations are obvious, the first part of the movie is too much based on the first one, we don't learn enough about the mutant society and Heston's part, at his demand, is too short.

But this sequel really adds something to the first movie.
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"It's Doooooooomsday!"
incognitoami21 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
After the spellbinding revelation of the original Planet of the Apes, the sequel (and subsequent sequels in the landmark series) seemed critically doomed to suffer from substandard mediocrity in the wake of its apocalyptic aftermath, yet Beneath the Planet of the Apes endures as one of the most reverent science fiction films among faithful fans of the series. A seriously flawed, yet brilliantly misunderstood masterpiece that remains as an important testament to behold. What could not be topped by Planet of the Apes' unappeasable climax, could only be subverted by going beneath it... literally.

After Charlton Heston compromised with producers to only briefly reprise his role as Taylor in the sequel, James Franciscus takes the lead as Astronaut Brent. While Franciscus gives a very strong and worthwhile performance, his character still suffers at the expense of being a poor-man's Taylor. The first half of the film reiterates a lot of the exposition of the first film to bring Brent's character up to speed as he travels with the beautiful Linda Harrison as the mute slave Nova into the Forbidden Zone to find Taylor who mysteriously vanished into a mirage at the beginning of the film. As Brent and Nova begin their descent beneath the subterranean caverns of a post-apocalyptic city, the film takes a much darker and cerebral turn that is both disturbingly bizarre and brutally nihilistic. Brent, while under the telepathic mind-control of the under-dwelling society of mutated humans, shockingly tries to kill innocent Nova... twice. The malevolent Mutants reveal themselves to be a cult of hideously deformed worshipers of an atomic bomb who give praise to its awesome destructive power at an eerie mass in their tabernacle as they prepare for the inevitable confrontation against the surface-dwelling Simians who have ruled over the planet ever since it was ravaged by the inferno of nuclear holocaust two thousand years prior and the final battle for control of the Planet of the Apes will be determined by its prophetic Earth-shattering outcome.

Beneath the Planet of the Apes detonates with a shock-wave of suspense that reached its apotheosis at the end of the first film and radiates unstoppably towards an inexorable conclusion at the end of the second. A brilliantly twisted and hauntingly cerebral sequel which may have proved itself to have been too intense and intellectual for its G-rated audience who were simply engrossed by the film's adventurous fantasy and captivated by the ape-like wonder of its characters. It would be almost impossible today for a major studio to gamble on making what was considered to be a franchise-killing installment because of its powerfully subversive imagery and socio-political narrative which ironically gives Beneath its characteristically unique dynamic not only as a worthy and important follow-up to its classic predecessor, but a relevant and enduring testament of historic science fiction cinema.
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Best of the rest - GREAT ending!
chriscollin10 May 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Originally entitled ''Planet of the Apes Revisited'', Ted Post took over direction from Franklin Schaffner in what is the best of the Planet of the Apes films after the original. While it deviates significantly from what the audience might have imagined would happen, script writer Paul Dehn takes us a step closer to understanding how this ''upside down'' civilization came to be.

The film is hindered by having less subtle commentary to make than its predecessor did (the Vietnam overtones are hard to miss), but none the less the excellent Cathedral sequence - ''the almighty bomb, who created heaven under earth'' - is masterfully orchestrated. A credit to Dehn and to composer Leonard Rosenman, who more than fills the shoes of Jerry Goldsmith in providing an riveting score for the film.

Controversy has always centred around the film's ending more than any other feature of it. Those who critisise it miss the point - this was intended to be the LAST apes film, and although producer Arthur Jacobs kept his mind open for a possible 3rd film, it was felt that another movie set in a post-apocalyptic ape ruled world would just be ''flogging a dead horse''. One of the greatest features of these films, started by the Statue of Liberty sequence in the original, was that they all contained ''shocker'' endings, designed to send a shiver down the spine of the cinema audience. Beneath is so final, so clear cut, so definate in its climax - and is successful BECAUSE of this. 'Escape' featured the talking baby Chimp at its end. 'Conquest' featured the apes take over in its ultimate moments.

Beneath suffers less than the other films from having an inadiquate budget, but is hindred by Chuck Heston's absence. The fact that James Franciscus looks so similar is slightly irritating. But considering the storyline, script, locations, music and great shocker ending, this film is a definate 'hit' for the series.

And as for Linda Harrison........well, let's just say I've kept the best to the last.....
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Action-Packed Worthy Sequel
kevin-1677 January 2001
Very high quality sequel to the original. No, it was not quite as good as the original but the performances and the story were both strong. Just watched it on DVD and forgot about how creepy the underground mutant people were. Especially when they were chanting to their "god". James Franciscus gave a very good performance and Linda Harrison is simply HOT! The ending was a little too abrupt but the movie is well worth seeing and owning on DVD.
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Powerful Sequel.
AaronCapenBanner26 August 2013
This picks up where the first left off, as Charlton Heston(Taylor) journeys into the desert with his mate Nova(Linda Harrison), where he disappears, but then there is the arrival of a rescue space craft, led by Brent(James Franciscus). He contacts both Cornelius and Zira, who point him into the Forbidden Zone, where an invasion is being led by gorilla leader General Ursus(James Gregory, superb, with lots of memorable lines.)All is revealed when they meet a mutated group of humans, who worship a mysterious deity, one that may prove to be the end of them all...

One of the best sequels ever made, builds upon the original, rather than repeats it, with many interesting twists and turns, all leading to an explosive ending that will come as quite a shock; so unexpected(yet sadly inevitable) that it is my personal favorite ending of all time.

Pity it wasn't allowed to stand...
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Powerful underrated sequel.
chriswright196927 May 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Beneath The Planet of the Apes (1970) belongs in that list of sequels that could have been as good or even better than the original film. The first sequel to Planet of the Apes (1968) has two strikes against it. The film had only half the budget of the original film and Charlton Heston has a supporting part, while the screenplay was clearly written with his character as the lead. In those days a star did not do sequels, but apparently he was grateful for the success of Planet of the Apes that he did a cameo and donated his salary to charity. Heston became a science fiction icon and would go on in the seventies starring in the SF classics The Omega Man (1971) and Soylent Green (1973).

The writers Paul Dehn and Mort Abrahams and director Ted Post took Beneath The Planet of the Apes serious enough and did excellent work despite these limitations. A couple of years later Ted Post would direct another sequel: Magnum Force (1973). The first Dirty Harry sequel which could also be rated as a sequel almost as good as the original.

The first 30 minutes of Beneath The Planet of the Apes is a quick rerun of the plot of the original film, but when the lead characters get underground (hence the title), we get a first rate science fiction parable. The underground ruins of New York city are inhabited by mutated humans with psychic powers and worship an atom bomb as a God. This story line does make the ape race secondary characters in the second half.

The ending is very nihilistic and seems like a very definitive ending to the series. But because of success at the box office and the ingenuity of the writers, we got three more sequels/prequels. All of them are very enjoyable, but nowhere near as powerful as this first underrated sequel.
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"Beneath the Planet of the Apes" is unnecessary - or maybe Brent is,
John Panagopoulos27 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Recently, after proctoring a law exam at Suffolk Law School in Boston, I arrived home, idly turned on HBO, and saw "Beneath the Planet of the Apes" (hereafter "Beneath") was starting. What the hey, I said to myself, I'll watch it again. About ninety minutes later, I concluded that "Beneath" was serviceable, efficient entertainment, if a bit cursory and abrupt (REALLY abrupt). I thought about it some more, and tended to agree with the late Charlton Heston's assessment that the original 1968 movie "Planet of the Apes" (hereafter PotA) was self-contained and that a sequel was unnecessary. Ultimately, it seems that Twentieth-Century Fox's gleeful avarice overturned Heston's pragmatism and spawned the nearly identical "Beneath".

For at least half of "Beneath", in addition to a repeat of the iconic ending of PotA, we witness a virtual reprise of the first half-hour of PotA, with Brent (James Franciscus) discovering what viewers already know about the simian-ruled, post-apocalyptic planet. For human's sake, Brent even closely resembles Heston's character Taylor (except he's a bit slighter), especially after Zira (played again by Kim Hunter) forces him to ditch his astronaut duds for a more revealing loincloth in order to escape immediate detection by the apes. Even so, gorilla General Ursus (James Gregory) captures Brent and Nova for his army's target practice. With Zira's help, they escape and plunge into the Forbidden Zone, which is really the ruins of the New York City subway system.

At this point, "Beneath" does offer something new - Brent's gradual discovery of mutated, radiation-scarred, telekinetic/telepathic human survivors living in the subterranean shafts and ironically worshipping a Doomsday Alpha-Omega bomb. It's established that the apes avoid the Forbidden Zone and the subway lair because of the hallucinatory images they can conjure up (like the optical illusion fire and crevice that swallow up Taylor and compel Nova to seek help). The mutants mess with Brent's mind (i.e. force him to attack Nova, force him to fight Taylor after he is imprisoned with him). Meanwhile, General Ursus's army, desperate to replenish Ape City's food supplies, dare to march upon the Forbidden Zone. However, a female mutant reveals that the mind games they can play with Brent don't work on apes because of their brutishly thick skulls. So when Dr. Zaius (Maurice Evans), accompanying Ursus, deduces that the mutant's optical effects are fake, the mutants are helpless against them, except for their ace-in-the-hole bomb. So now let's see, Brent and Taylor escape prison by killing a mutant, then find Nova, then Ursus's army breaks in and kills Nova, then the army enters the mutant's shrine-like chamber with the bomb, Brent and Taylor soon follow, the apes kill several of the mutants, wound Taylor and kill Brent, and a vengeful Taylor detonates the bomb, annihilating the world and, seemingly future PotA sequels (not!)

Was that all there was?

Well, maybe "Beneath" was not so unnecessary after all, since it does introduce the fascinating human mutant angle, oh, and the increasing rift between the militaristic gorillas and the pacifistic chimpanzees early on. But "Beneath" glosses over these elements in its haste to get Brent caught up on ape lore and give the cynical Heston/Taylor a reason to end the sequel/ape madness. Perhaps Brent is unnecessary. Maybe the movie would have been better if it dumped the Brent character altogether and just followed Taylor (and Nova) after they plunged through the fire mirage and encountered the mutants. That way, "Beneath" could have given more time to explore this mysterious underground culture, and as counterpoint, the schism within ape society. After all, PotA's premise and characters are intriguing and deserve more thorough development. "Beneath" literally blew up this valuable opportunity.
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The Detonator
Angry_Arguer5 November 2003
Warning: Spoilers
This is your only spoiler warning.

I've been having a lot of fun lately going through the 20th Century Fox vault of so-called "science fiction". Having blazed through the Star Wars and Alien movies, I'm now on the Planet of the Apes series. In all honesty, only the first two films in this franchise need to be seen because they create (and subsequently) destroy the world we know as The Planet of the Apes. The third through fifth sequels are in the league of Star Wars: Episode I.

'Planet' was an interesting composite of then-current 1968 society, Roman society, and Mad Magazine. Everything you know is flipped, but you still know what it's about. Unlike other "science fiction" endeavors, 'Planet' didn't use the continuous Black stereotype frequent in the Alien movies, The Thing, and Poltergeist. Dodge was perhaps the only realistic character in the movie.

Then there is the sequels. An embarrassment by modern standards, made worse by how much Tim Burton blatantly copied them for his spoof.

'Beneath' is 1/2 of a movie because it spends half its time remaking the original before breaking new ground. Aliens was an unconscious remake, this is deliberate. It is less experimental than the first, more formulaic. The lack of experimenting, by comparison, killed the other franchises by their fourth installments. Funny, Heston drops the bomb that destroys the world and, thus, the series.

Fox's budget cuts hurt the visual aspect of this film in ways that science fiction never experienced before. Too often it just looks like Roger Corman made it. 'Planet' was a super-size Twilight Zone episode, 'Beneath' is melancholy Star Trek.

Fortunately, the subtexts are stronger this time because they aren't as bombastic in trying to make their points. The triangle bond between the ape society (gorilla-orangutan-chimp) is embellished. Militarism becomes the dominant theme and the mutants are straight out of 'Dr. Strangelove.' Humanity will continue to destroy itself, even after nuking the world into oblivion. Also, as shown in Terminator, mankind will continue to live in the ruins of his old world.

Overall, yet another example of an ambitious (and powerful) film vision wrecked by poor execution. 2 out of 5.
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"What the hell would I have to say to a gorilla?"
utgard1416 July 2014
A second spaceship crashes on the planet of the apes, attempting to locate the previous ship's crew. Only one astronaut, Brent (James Franciscus), survives the crash. Brent quickly finds himself captured by the apes but is helped to escape by Cornelius and Zira (Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter). Now he must venture into the Forbidden Zone to try and find Taylor (Charlton Heston), the survivor from the first film.

The movie starts off like many sequels with a sense that it's simply going to mimic the first movie. However, once things move into the Forbidden Zone with the mutants, the movie finds its own identity. It's actually quite good for a sequel to a classic film. It's not on or near the level of the first movie, of course, but it's entertaining. The returning apes from the first film (Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans) could have been used to better effect. James Gregory's gorilla general is the film's antagonist, with Dr. Zaius more reasonable than before. The mutant stuff is actually pretty interesting. This is the second best of the Apes sequels.
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Rivals the original
ShadeGrenade11 September 2009
Warning: Spoilers
'Planet Of The Apes' was one of the most successful movies of 1968 and so, two years later, a sequel appeared. 'Beneath' opens with a recap of the first's ending, before a new story takes over as American astronaut Brent ( the late James Franciscus ) arrives on Ape World in search of Taylor ( Charlton Heston ). He encounters a young mute woman on horseback. Nova ( Linda Harrison ) has just returned from The Forbidden Zone from where Taylor ( literally ) disappeared. She takes Brent to Ape City where he witnesses the insane General Ursus ( James Gregory ) making a impassioned speech for war against the inhabitants of The Forbidden Zone - whoever they may be. After meeting with Zira ( Kim Hunter ) and Cornelius ( David Watson ), Brent is captured along with Nova and sentenced to be used as target practice by the gorillas. They escape and flee underground, discovering that Ape World is really the Earth of the far-future.

Also down there is a society of radiation-ravaged mutants, who have developed telepathic powers and can force humans to destroy one another. They wear masks to conceal their horrific ugliness. In a scene that is both comic and disturbing, Brent and Nova witness the extraordinary spectacle of these skinless beings singing hymns to a Doomsday Device - an atomic bomb capable of destroying the world.

The Ape army shows up in force, culminating in a battle. Nova and Brent are shot, and before he dies, Taylor triggers the Doomsday Device. The screen goes black, and a sober voice-over informs us that a small, insignificant planet in the Solar System is now dead...

It is remarkable how good 'Beneath' is when one considers that it was a troubled production. Heston turned down the chance to star, contributing little more than an extended cameo, while the inclusion of another astronaut character necessitated the unfortunate need to repeat facts about Ape World the audience already knew. Roddy McDowall was unavailable ( making this the only 'Apes' film in which he does not appear ), so instead British actor David Watson put on the monkey make-up. His impersonation of McDowall's distinctive voice is spot-on. Maurice Evans, Kim Hunter and Linda Harrison reprised their roles from the original.

The outdoor feel of the first was replaced by a claustrophobic atmosphere; the ruined New York city ( with its subway tunnels ) is simply stunning.

Numerous script treatments were written, including ones by Rod Serling and Pierre Boulle ( author of the original novel ), before British writer and critic Paul Dehn was brought in. Along with associate producer Mort Abrahams, he fashioned an intelligent, thought-provoking allegory on the Vietnam War ( we even see chimps as anti-war protesters! ), managing to make a strong anti-nuclear age statement along the way. It is certainly not a 'feelgood' film. Ted Post, the director, worked with Franciscus again on 'Night Slaves', a sci-fi T.V. movie based on a Jerry Sohl story. He does a decent job with 'Beneath', ensuring that the social commentary is balanced with exciting action.

The climax in which the Earth is destroyed ( I do not think anyone would dare to do an ending like that now! ) seemed to bring the series to a close. Far from it. Three more sequels were made, followed by two television spin-offs!

Whenever I watch 'Beneath' I always make a point of seeing its predecessor first, in order to get the full effect. It opened to mixed reviews ( some critics were angry with what they perceived to be the film's left-leaning political message ), but audiences lapped it up. Good for them.

Compared to the farrago that was Tim Burton's 2001 'reimagining', 'Beneath' is an unalloyed masterpiece.
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