“Rise of the Planet of the Apes” might be marketed as a prequel, and it certainly feels like one, but it definitely isn’t something you should watch before the original series or the Tim Burton remake. It takes the established concepts of “The Planet of the Apes” franchise and rewrites the beginnings of the rise of the apes and the decline of humanity. “Rise” certainly begs for a sequel and I eagerly await to see it, but “Rise” doesn’t cheaply give you a cliffhanger ending just to entice you for it. It does what all blockbusters, or any film in fact, should do. It makes you want more by proving to you that what it has to give is grand ideas and even grander execution. “Rise” is amazing, dare I say it, it’s even better than the original and certainly better than any of it’s sequels.
“Beneath the Planet of the Apes” was the first sequel to “Planet of the Apes” and my opinion of it was that of utter indifference. My biggest problem with it was the knowledge that the series had continued and that, as is usually the case, things could only get worse from here. I’m so genuinely happy to report that that’s not the case, “Escape from the Planet of the Apes” is no masterpiece, but it isn’t bad and is certainly above average with a suitable amount of new ideas resulting from it’s obvious attempt to genuinely shake up the franchise in an effort to make it fresh, and in some respects, they succeeded.
The first “Planet of the Apes” at least attempted to be a little bit more than stock corny science fiction. It’s sequel, “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” completely descends into the realm of corny sci-fi, such in the vein of the original “Star Trek” series but without any of the grand themes of the quest for knowledge. This time we are provided with a new hero who looks deceptively like George Taylor (Charlton Heston) from the first movie, to the extent that when I first saw him I was genuinely confused as to what was happening and whether what I was seeing was a flashback. The gusto the original had just isn’t in this half-hearted sequel and it’s unfortunate to watch the originality (Yes I’m aware it wasn’t an original screenplay) of the first film get suddenly marred with the curse of the generic. It doesn’t bode all that well for the rest of the series and I am certainly less excited about viewing all of them, oh well.
Often films try to mimic what is a part of all great films, and that is the idea of the messages within, be they moral or immoral. “Planet of the Apes” is an example of a film that strives for greatness but falls just short despite the occasional scrape with said greatness that never amounts to anything beyond that. I will say that just because a film isn’t great that does not mean that it is not worth watching, or even that it’s not of genuine quality. “Planet of the Apes” is a good science fiction film that will just leave you wishing it had done a little bit more than it did, because there are the makings of a real classic here.