Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)

Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)

Director: J Lee Thompson
Starring: Roddy McDowall, Claude Akins, Natalie Trundy

After leading the ape uprising, Caesar struggles to maintain an unsteady peace while irradiated mutants prepare to launch an invasion and the gorilla general Aldo agitates for war.

I have mixed feelings about this film. The story is interesting enough and helps bring things full circle, but it isn't entirely necessary and the limited budget really hobbles it for as ambitious as it tries to be. Just as Conquest of the Planet of the Apes has the implausibility of the apes' sudden rise and proliferation after a mere 20 years, here a mere 12 years later you have an entire society of talking apes who are suspiciously wearing the same costumes they'd be sporting over a thousand years in the future. And then there's the fact that human society has entirely collapsed in this short timeframe. (For a downfall to occur on this scale, the land would be in far more dire straits than it is, I'd think.) Setting all this aside, though, you have Caesar in his rather uncertain position as the apes' king with humans now living in mostly benevolent subjugation, opposed by the warmongering Aldo on one side and the mutants led by Kolp (who it's nice to see back from Conquest) on the other. Among the newcomers, I particularly liked Paul Williams as the brainy Virgil. You might also find it neat that John Huston was cast as the Lawgiver who narrates the story. If you're invested in the series, you'll probably want to see this one, but if you haven't really been enjoying the sequels, this may not be for you.