Beneath the Planet of the Apes [1970]

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CONTAINS SPOILERS

An army of civilized apes…A fortress of radiation-crazed super humans…Earth’s final battle is about to begin – Beneath the atomic rubble of what was once the city of New York!

Directed by Ted Post

Reviewed by Deep Red

Aka Le secret de la planète des singes

OK this is the second ‘Planet of the Apes’ film. It’s also my second night not watching horror and I’m starting to get some serious withdrawal symptoms.

Anyway, more walking, talking, living apes than a Cliff Richard song about apes. This one is even more ‘science fiction’ than the first film, even more far-fetched. This one introduces some new developments to the mythology set up in the original that I personally thought were a step too far and a little unnecessary but let’s start at the beginning and return to that later.

OK, well it starts where Planet of the Apes ends with a little footage from the first:

“You may not like what you find.”

We then continue with Taylor ( Charlton Heston) and Nova (Linda Harrison) riding further into the Forbidden Zone.

Another spacecraft has crash landed, this one carrying Brent (James Franciscus) and Skipper (Tod Andrews) who have been sent to find the first crew. Skipper dies and Brent meets Nova who is now alone on horseback, wearing Taylor’s dog tags. We learn through flashbacks that Taylor just disappeared, seemingly into thin air.

Brent and Nova ride to Ape City where Ursus (James Gregory), a gorilla general, is rallying other apes to invade the Forbidden Zone. Nova takes Brent to the home of Zira (Kim Hunter) and Cornelius (David Watson, not Roddy McDowall in this one), the friendly chimpanzees from the first film. Leaving Ape City, Brent and Nova are captured by gorillas and put in cages with other humans. Zira helps them escape their fate as target practice for the gorillas. Pursued by gorillas they make it to a cave which holds some major revelations for Brent….

Look, it’s a great sequel. It was apparently made for half the budget of the original but it still looks epic and has plenty of monkey business going on. No, it isn’t the film the original is but it’s still essential viewing for fans. Some of the characters reprise their roles, including Maurice Evans as Dr. Zaius, and the new characters are great too.

OK, those ‘developments’ I mentioned earlier. Well, the telepathic humans thing just didn’t really fit with the whole ‘Planet of the Apes’ thing for me. The concept of talking apes and so on is big enough in my opinion and there are all kinds of possibilities within that idea without this added layer of science fiction. For one, it turns a certain portion of the film into an ape-free zone visually and I came to see the apes to be frank. It’s not a massive problem but I liked the universe of the original, the nuts and bolts of that idea without the new stuff, the illusions created by the telepathic humans for example, it just felt a little stretched and as the numerous films that followed proved, it didn’t need stretching.

It’s still a great film, it’s a bloody classic actually and pretty loopy in places, especially towards the end, the singing stuff if you’ve seen it, but at the same time it’s realising its new ideas well so it’s not silly or anything. It’s a great sequel and it is what it is, ‘Apes’ fans will love it and repeated viewings actually improve the film no end. Awesome.