Beneath the Planet of the Apes. (1970)

Beneath the Planet of the Apes. (1970)

Oh boy, this film may not be as iconic as the first film in the series but it has some very striking imagery and messages. Taylor is lost and another astronaut from the past who looks like Charlton Heston and acts like Charlton Heston but he’s younger and handsomer so naturally he’s the star. Even when this series does a rehash it does it with a certain flair. Brent is played by James Franciscus and he is put through similar trials as his forebear but then he gets his mind broken by the faceless Children of Atom, that’s not what they’re called they don’t actually claim a title for their cult of mutated humans, but similarly to the cult in Fallout they worship an atomic bomb. But not just any atomic bomb, it’s the Doomsday Bomb, AΩ, the beginning and the end.

This film while brief and easily dismissed, the behind the scenes is a scrappy tale how the people who didn’t believe in sequels fought against the creative talents that did. Heston’s notable absence from the film is explained by the fact that he did the film on condition that they kill him off and that he be the one to take the Planet of the Apes with him. This leaves the film on a pessimistic note but then the whole film carries a pessimistic message with intelligence comes conflict and with conflict comes death and destruction. Both sides fight for survival but no one really wins. The Mutants won’t fight per se but they make use of their super mind powers to fight for them. Which is a cop out but also an easy way to compensate for the flimsy and poor effects used to display their power.

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But it is easy to criticise 50 year old effects, especially computer generated ones. However the flimsy morals of genetically altered super mind skinless people is not the thing to focus on on this flick, it is silly but I digress while the normal social commentary of the Apes series takes a backseat as this film is struggling to survive but even then it still has the undercurrent of war’s primal and destructive nature, that leads to the planet’s destruction. While it’s a weaker entry in the series it’s still worth a watch for the creature fans, and Apes fans maybe not so much for sci-fi fans but if you loved the first one you’ll enjoy this romp on the Apes’ planet. 7/10

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