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MJ5K's Review

Created Jun 18, 2012 01:26AM PST • Edited Jun 18, 2012 01:26AM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Very Good 3.5

    Considering the ending of Beneath the Planet of the Apes was kind of…well…let me just put it this way: it wasn’t exactly a cliff hanger. In fact, it left little to no room for a sequel at all. However, when screenwriter Paul Dehn recieved a message from producer Arthur P. Jacobs saying “Apes Exist. Sequel Required”, Dehn found himself between a rock and a hard place.

    When writing Beneath, the filmmakers had to find a way to go beyond the first film’s post-apocalyptic vision and social commentaries. This one had to go beyond the fact that once you’ve blown up the world, you can’t go any further. However, they were able to find a way.

    Escape from the Planet of the Apes took a simpler and cheaper approach to the Apes franchise. And in the end, it proved surprisingly effective. The movie had regained much more of the subtle social messages that were a little bit too out there in Beneath. It also regained two of the stars that had made the first film so successful: Roddy McDowall (who was notably absent in Beneath) and Kim Hunter as chimp couple Cornelius and Zira. In addition, the script was filled with enough wit, humor, sentimentality, and even a bit of drama.

    Escape picks up after the events of the Beneath. Zira (Hunter) and Cornelius (McDowall) have crash landed on Earth via Taylor’s old space ship from the first film. They’re accompanied by a fellow chimp scientist, Dr. Milo (Sal Mineo, in what was sadly his last role before his tragic death), who had salvaged the space ship and repaired it. When they arrive, they are shocked to see humans, whom they’d known to be mindless savages in their time, are now speaking and civilized. Milo explains that they have travelled from Earth’s future to Earth’s past. Apes have not yet fully evolved. Humans are still the intelligent beings. And when Zira becomes pregnant, that’s when things become very complicated as the government believes her child may be the fall of mankind.

    The acting, as usual, is front, center, and top notch. McDowall and Hunter seem to be far more comfortable in their roles at this point in the series. Mineo was good for his brief screen time (the character of Dr. Milo is killed off very early on, sorry to dissapoint you all) and is it sad to think that he did the role because he thought it wood boost his career the way it boosted Roddy McDowall’s and in the end it was his last role. Another interesting casting choice was Natalie Trundy, making her second of four appearances in the films. This time she plays Dr. Dixon, an animal psychologist who aids Cornelius and Zira. Eric Braeden’s one of the best villains in the whole franchise as Dr. Hasslein (NOTE: Hasslein is mentioned only by name in the first two films. He’s the man who’s theory of time travel Taylor sets out to prove. Quite an interesting twist if I should say so). Ricardo Montalban also appears briefly as Armando, a kindly circus owner with a love for all animals. His role grows larger in the next film.

    The film’s social commentaries, though not as strong as the first movie, are very effective. One such example is when Cornelius becomes upset by an interrigation official referring to him and Zira as “Monkeys”. There are heavier elements, however. The Apes movies, though not “kids movies” as some might call them, have always been intended for people of all ages. However, it might be a bit hard for kids to get into this one. The ending, like many of the films, is kind of a downer. And I mean a REAL downer.

    Despite some of it’s flaws, Escape is a worthy sequel and probably the strongest of the original Apes sequels. A worthy edition to the Apes saga.

  3. Very Good 3.5
  4. Male Stars Great 4.0
  5. Female Stars Great 4.0
  6. Female Costars Good 3.0
  7. Male Costars Good 3.0
  8. Good 3.0
  9. Direction Good 3.0
  10. Play Good 3.0
  11. Music OK 2.5
  12. Visuals Very Good 3.5
  13. Content
  14. Risqué 1.7
  15. Sex Innocent 1.5
  16. Violence Fierce 2.5
  17. Rudeness Polite 1.0
  18. Fantasy 5.0
  19. Circumstantial Fantasy 5.0
  20. Biological Fantasy 5.0
  21. Physical Fantasy 5.0


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Jun 18, 2012 11:11PM

Regarding MJ5K’s Review
Another great Apes appreciation MJ. Now that you’ve covered the original series, you can start on the 21st Century version.