In preparation for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes‘ release on Friday, I decided to review every movie in the Apes franchise thus far, having never seen a Planet of the Apes movie before. You can find an index of my Apes reviews here and check out The Obsessive Viewer Podcast here. Now, here’s my review of the Battle for the Planet of the Apes.
In 1973’s Battle for the Planet of the Apes, we find Caesar (Roddy McDowall) ruling over evolved apes. Following an unfortunate series of events, humans plan an attack on Ape City while Caesar faces mutiny in the form of soldiers in his ranks led by a gorilla named Aldo (Claude Akins).
I’m not sure I have very much to say about this entry in the franchise. It isn’t very good, even grading on the curve of being a 5th installment. It was clearly made on the cheap side. There are cheaply made sets and backdrops in scenes in which we see the post apocalyptic human world. The establishing shots featuring these backdrops are enough to take the viewer out of the movie.
When it comes to the plot, I respect what the filmmakers were trying to do. As a piece of the Apes franchise, Battle isn’t totally off the mark. It carries the torch from the previous movie and stumbles as it takes the story where it needs to go. The problem comes from a lack of passion across the board.
Since Escape, the franchise has been building towards Battle. It’s disappointing to see the eponymous “battle” between man and ape relegated to a product of misunderstanding and tied down by the mutiny subplot. This should have been the climactic installment that finally saw the apes take control of the planet. Instead, it’s sloppy, dull and lacks direction.
What I will say in Battle’s favor is that it had the conflict that Escape was sorely missing. The movie takes place about a decade after Conquest and the subplot with Caesar’s son, Cornelius, takes Caesar’s arc down some surprisingly personal avenues. But it’s not nearly enough to save the movie.
Battle of the Planet of the Apes closed the door on the franchise until Tim Burton‘s remake in 2001. Unfortunately, the franchise ended in a whimper. It isn’t enough to destroy interest in the franchise but it points a spotlight on the creative fatigue that goes into created the 5th installment of a franchise.
Worth seeing, but you’ll survive waiting a couple days for the mail.
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