BATTLE FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES, 1973
Starring: Roddy McDowall, Claude Akins, Natalie Trudy, John Huston and Paul Williams
The final chapter in one of the greatest, most classic and enduring film sagas of all time. The world has been destroyed by a nuclear war. But who will come out on top, the apes, the humans or the mutants?
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So finally here we are; the final entry in the Planet of the Apes saga. ‘Battle for the Planet of the Apes’ takes quite a massive dive from the quality of the previous films, this is mainly due to a massive cut in budget, but slowly and steadily this had been happening since the first sequel, so it’s no real excuse.
‘Battle’ is the kind of sequel to a franchise that you watch and then say, “I wished they’d finished on the last one.” The film falls short of the standard that the other ‘Apes’ films had set up in many areas, from the costumes to the acting, from the storyline to the musical score and finally the ending.
In all the previous ‘Apes’ films I was always amazed with the level of realism that the ape masks gave to the film. The ape faces looked real, realistic looking skin, realistic looking hair. Clearly the costume department in ‘Battle for the Planet of the Apes’ was hit hard by the budget cuts. These films apes look a lot more like plastic life-size action figures. Apart from Caesar (Roddy McDowall) but I believe this is because his face had been modelled many times before for the previous films.
The story has some good points to make, but again, like ‘Escape from the Planet of the Apes’, the themes are all piled up on top of each other to the point where things get confusing. Also by this point you are already thinking, “Yes I know, I get it, we should be kinder to animals and our fellow man...” At least it does bring a new point into the film, corruption that power brings. But this is sort of short lived. The purpose of the story is to show exactly how the planet of the apes came about. However this is odd given that this was explained by Cornelius and Zira in ‘Escape from the Planet of the Apes’ and really ‘Conquest of the Planet of the Apes’ was more the genesis of the planet of the apes. So after watching these films in order by the time you reach ‘Battle for the Planet of the Apes’ you just feel like the story is redundant.
A lot of the dialogue seems to be just as redundant, with Caesar’s call to fight back at the mutants with a “Now fight like Apes”. I’m sure was an attempt to draw on the same kind of dry humour from the first film where lines like “You know the old saying man see man do.” But now it just seems that these kinds of jokes fall flat.
The musical score is pretty standard for the ‘Apes’ films by this point, which is good it helps us identify this movie with the previous films. But it is nothing particularly interesting or memorable.
So that is the end of the Planet of the Apes saga. There are some reasons to watch this film; if you have gone to the effort of watching the others you might as well round it off with the final film. The saga as a whole is, as I have stated elsewhere, truly one of the most classic franchises around definitely in my personal top four. However ‘Battle for the Planet of the Apes’ just doesn’t quite make it full circle when really that is what it should have done. It’s made it to about a 205 degrees but it just can’t close up that 155 degrees of the plot circle.