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Planet of the Apes Movie Review
From 1968 to present day, the Planet of the Apes movie series has been a lucrative franchise and fan favorite. The original Planet of the Apes from Twentieth Century Fox starred Roddy McDowall, Charlton Heston, and Kim Hunter, as the main characters in a movie that would spawn four more sequels, a television series, a cartoon and countless remakes. How is it that a movie with poor costumes and cheap set designs spark such an outpouring of interest and almost cult like following?
Flashback to the opening scenes of the Planet of the Apes, where it all started. Charlton Heston (Taylor) is on a spaceship which literally crash lands on a strange planet with three other crew members. The female astronaut, unfortunately, doesn’t survive so the three men embark on a scary quest to find food, water and survival. Imagine finding primitive humans and your first thought being, “we could run this planet.” The action takes off when they discover that humans are merely target practice in a world run by talking apes!
When this movie first came out, drive-in theaters were all the rage! You could sit back with your family enjoying the night air while watching this fast-paced, crazy sci-fi action film. This movie was an excellent vehicle for the drive-in theater venue.
It’s interesting to watch, what was considered to be at the time, ground-breaking advances in design. What technology has greatly improved upon now, tends to look fairly cheesy in the older films. Dress shoes in the same color as the ape outfits, padded slippers that look like monkey feet-shaped bedroom slippers were part of the original costumes. In fact, the original Planet of the Apes was Oscar nominated for Best Costume Design. The movie won five awards and was nominated for two others.
The ending of the movie provided a predictably, unexpected twist that stunned 1968 movie-goers. The astronauts had, in fact, landed on the future planet earth. Who could forget Taylor on his knees cursing the human race while kneeling in the shadow of a broken down Statue of Liberty? I can’t remember if I was surprised when I saw the ending of the original movie, but I do know that by today’s standards the outcome would not have been as big a surprise. The ending, however, is not the true ending, as this movie flows into the next.
Overall, I found the original Planet of the Apes to be the best movie out of all of the series including the many remakes. It had an endearing quality where you could actually feel the human side of the gorillas, the chimpanzees and the orangutans. While some may enjoy the modern pyrotechnics of today’s movies, there is certain freshness in a movie where there are no modern day laser weapons to defeat the enemy, or where the enemy is not truly defeated.
Interestingly enough, despite the violence and the semi-clothed humans, this movie received a G rating.
Directed By: Franklin J. Schaffner
Release Date: April 3, 1968
Run Time: 112 minutes
Rating: G (rear-nudity, light profanity, violence “nothing too frightening or intense here, except where the apes massacre, beat up and/or whip humans” which seems pretty violent to me.)
Budget: $5,800,000 (estimated)
Gross: $26,000,000 (USA)
The Planet of the Apes series is part of my own personal collection.
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