Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)

Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)

Director: J Lee Thompson
Starring: Roddy McDowall, Don Murray, Ricardo Montalban

In a future where apes live in servitude, the son of Zira and Cornelius plots an uprising against their cruel human masters.

Escape from the Planet of the Apes had elements of inverting the scenario of the first film and this idea gets taken even farther here. It strains credulity that you'd have hundreds if not thousands of humanoid apes spring up in the span of a mere 20 years, but if you can overlook that, there's an interesting movie here. There's obvious resonance with the ongoing Civil Rights Era, which apparently lent the film considerable popularity with black audiences. I want to give credit to Roddy McDowall for his portrayal of Caesar. The character is quite different from Cornelius the mild-mannered academic and when he goes into full revolutionary mode, the performance is quite powerful. I feel the revised ending takes some of the wind out of the sails, but I suppose the original ending was too dark. (It would have been a bold statement, though.) Ricardo Montalban certainly made an impression in the previous film and gets a much bigger role here. I also liked Hari Rhodes as the sympathetic MacDonald. Usually you'd see a series decline significantly by the this point, but this is a solid film and well worth watching.

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