Sunday, August 28, 2011

Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)

Director: J. Lee Thompson

Starring: Roddy McDowall, Claude Akins, Natalie Trundy, Severn Darden

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The final chapter in the incredible Apes saga. The most suspenseful showdown ever filmed as two civilizations battle for the right to inherit what's left of the earth!

Plot: After conquering the oppressive humans in "Conquest for the Planet of the Apes", Caesar must now keep the peace among the humans and apes. Gorilla General Aldo views things differently, and tries to cause an ape civil war. In the meantime, other human survivors learn of the ape city, and decide they want to take back civilization for themselves, thus setting the stage of warring ape factions and humans.

My rating: 5/10

Will I watch it again? Begrudgingly


For my money, it's the first APES picture that's the best, then 3 (ESCAPE), 2 (BENEATH) and 4 (CONQUEST) in no order and finally this one. BATTLE has the lowest budget of all of them and it shows. In fact it looks like a TV show. Fox even made a short lived series not too long after this. I remember watching it back in the 70s as a kid and liking it...but then I was all of 5. There's a lot of stuff that doesn't make sense like how the apes have suddenly learned to talk! It's only been 10 years since the last movie so I guess we're going to have to take one of dozens of leaps of faith that have been expected throughout the series. The funny thing is, I can do that with the APES pictures. I guess it's because I like the concept and it's neat sci-fi.

The thin budget really shows at the climax when we get the battle. It's silly and anemic. There are so few participants that it looks like a backyard excursion. And the humans driving a school bus as part of the onslaught is hilarious not to mention the guy on the motorcycle going so slow that Dennis the Menace could have picked him off with a slingshot. Hell, the motorcycle guy drove right into battle without a weapon. His weapon I guess was the slow-moving bike.

If it weren't for Roddy McDowall's participation this would almost be completely worthless. It's a sad theatrical close to an otherwise fun and interesting series. And to think this was directed by J. Lee "GUNS OF NAVARONE (1961) & CAPE FEAR (1962)" Thompson. My how the mighty have fallen. If only the movie were as good as the poster.

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