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10 June 2011

Planet of the Apes (1968) Review

My Rating: 91%
Directed by: Franklin J. Schaffner
Screenplay by: Rod Serling & Michael Wilson
Genre: Science Fiction, Drama
Runtime: 112 Minutes

This is certainly one of the most fascinating Sci-Fi films around and provokes questions such as why, where, how and when. With nature being turned upside down having ape above man is a very interesting idea and it’s placed 2000 years into the future. Many things are still to be unfolded with the film which makes it even better. The ironic joy of the story is how man is treated by human. We all know that science labs have had their share of animal cruelty and this film shows what the ape race thinks of man. The total juxtaposition of it was terrific and exaggerates how we’ve always thought of monkeys as inferior. Planet of the Apes boasts terrific story, interesting characters and a plot that is yet to be continued. Although the story is originally from a book, the screenplay was terrific and they did an excellent job of putting it on the big screen. With a title like ‘Planet of the Apes’ a first assumption to the average movie-goer [not me] would be this film stinks. That is understandable to some degree, but for those who try to stay away from this film are missing out on a terrific journey into a philosophical mystery.
The astronaut's
Opening with narration from one of our space travellers who are on the expedition of which is not explained, the story begins with four astronauts in space; Landon, Taylor, Dodge and Stewart. They crash land into water into what they think is a different planet. One of them notices the year date on their machine dashboard and discover that it is the year 3978. So they wonder in what is called the forbidden zone to the apes and discover a pool of water. They jump in naked [one of the film’s hard to look at moments for boys] and soon their clothes are taken away and placed somewhere else. The reason is never unveiled but when they get to their clothes, they discover several humans that seem to be living more like wild animals, almost as If they are from the Stone Age. Well suddenly havoc erupts and apes come capturing several humans, killing two of our astronauts. Landon and Taylor are captured, but have no idea the other one survived. We follow the character Taylor mainly and he winds up in a science facility similar to that we would have for specimens [which is the ironic beauty of the film]. Taylor can’t talk because he was shot in the neck by something and tries to communicate with Zira, the female doctor who is trying to learn more from him, giving him the nickname of ‘Bright Eyes’. From there onwards it is the attempts of unveiling the truth of who this man is and how he came to be.
From Left to right, Taylor, Dr Ziaus and Dr Zira.

A Sci-Fi classic that puts it’s foot down
It is clear that this film is a Sci-Fi classic and was one of the first ‘new-breed’ Science Fiction films. During 198 another film that also changed things was 2001: A Space Odyssey and shows the changed in the film industry towards the late 1960’s. The characters are great, the plot is mysterious and there is plenty going on to keep you on the edge of your seat. Seeing our main survivor, Taylor [known as Bright Eyes by the apes] trying to justify his self of being from another planet and that he is an intelligent animal was terrific. Doctor Zaius, the one who seems to have the most authority in this ape land will stop at nothing to disagree with the argument Doctor Zira and her fiancée Cornelius. As far as characters come, the apes fascinate you more with the visual make-up and mystery of how did all this happen rather than proper characteristics. The make-up department did a terrific job on the apes, and as fake-esque as it looks with today’s lazy CGI visuals, it is still intriguing to look at.

I enjoyed the style of the film and it really brings up the question of how did all of this come to be? Why is ape on top of man? Why is man now inferior? Which I suppose is the great thing about the film, and I suppose more is revealed in the next four sequels. The whole concept is fascinating and boasts a lot to the Sci-Fi fan. Let’s not forget some darn good acting too from the human actors. Charlton Heston plays the character Taylor and did an excellent job as did the rest of the crew. During his stay locked up like an animal he meets a female called Nova who is mute like the other humans at the science facility. She was a nice supporting character who is with Taylor in the end of this film.
Ape City
So it’s been over 40 years from this film’s release which shows how far it reaches stardom. It’s philosophical mystery makes it one of the finest Sci-Fi films around and it really speaks out with its juxtapositions and mysterious plot. Planet of the Apes at the time of it’s release had a great critical response and took home $32.5 million at the box office with it’s budget being $5.8 million. It also took home an Academy Award for best make-up achievement. I would consider this film to be a sort of ‘Cult classic’ on today’s standards and it will still come to a surprise to people with it’s title. All in all, Sci-Fi fan or not, Plant of the Apes is a fascinating thought provoking film that is definitely worth seeing.

Screenplay/Story: 9.2/10
Character: 9.0/10
Emotion: 8.6/10
Visuals & Editing: 8.9/10
Direction & Cinematography: 9.1
Music:  8.6/10
Overall: 9.1/10


  1. Excellent review..
    This is a truly fascinating film indeed.
    Stay away from the terrible remake starring Mark Wahlberg.

  2. There was a Planet of the Apes marathon on a few years back so I watched them all. Yep, agree with your review.

  3. There was some controversy about the Planet of the Apes DVD cover you used in this article because it spols the ending of the film. The company quickly issued a new DVD package for the film that didn't do that.



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