This sequel to 1968's sci-fi classic 'Planet of the Apes' spends its first half telling the same story again with a different astronaut, but in the second half moves unexpectedly to an underground realm of skinless psychics who sing hymns to a gigantic bomb.
Like the earlier film, it starts eerily, with wide empty spaces, perils of nature and troubling mysteries even before we reach the Apes. Here, too, there's a lengthy sequence where our hero isn't permitted to speak, but must nonetheless get things done - it's always good, in this visual medium, to have a respite from talking. We then get the same exposition and capture-and-escape antics as last time, before the new mystery and fresh ideas are allowed to take hold.
|The Apes look pretty good here, riding to war. When they get there their
lack of numbers and weapons makes the conflict seem terribly small-scale.
It isn't very clear why they go to war, nor who they expect to fight.
|Charlton Heston turns up, eventually.
They're appealing films, each one more utterly miserable in its findings than the one before. The first is about how human appetite for destruction never ceases, the second about how we cause the end of the world, and it somehow gets even worse as the series goes on, with films about killing babies and smashing people's heads in as borderline-legitimate ways to make the world better. The movies have the most paranoid soundtracks, an alarming and unusual set of noises for an orchestra, at the time - and they're attractive to look upon. I always envy Taylor's linen mace-fighting jacket in this instalment, and if I hadn't broken my sewing machine I would surely have replicated some of the Apes' garments by now, pleasing designs which look like no human culture I could name.
|This is probably the only Apes movie where you could take the Apes out
and the plot would still more-or-less work. Nice costumes, though.
P.S. Brent spends the film looking for Taylor, but never expresses an interest in the three astronauts who travelled with him. Presumably he knows which of the four was played by Charlton Heston.