So the series is finally coming to an end. With the studio pumping out sequel after sequel every year, people were getting bombarded by talking apes left and right. So the question is, how will the series end; with apes enslaving mankind, or peace between the two species. Let’s face it, every movie so far has pretty much been shown that the two species are two similar to really be able to co-exist and yet the last movie did give you some hope, unless you watched the unrated cut like I did where the apes killed almost everyone. Oh well, the only thing I really remember about this movie as a kid was that it basically was the set up for the TV show. So let’s see what happens with today’s movie, Battle For The Planet Of The Apes.
The plot: An orangutan known as Lawgiver is reading from a scroll, which tells the events of the previous two movies, before saying that this story is about Caesar and his quest to find harmony with man. Years after Caesar led his revolt against man, an atomic war occurred with many cities destroyed by atomic bombs. Caesar leads a group of apes and humans living together in what is called ape city. During a class where a human is teaching the apes to read and write, a gorilla named General Aldo refuses to participate, as he has a hatred for humans. Cornelius, the son of Caesar and Lisa, asks the teacher why they need to learn how to read and write and the teacher explains that all great leaders learned how to read and write. When Aldo tries to tear up his writing page, the teacher tells him no, a word that humans are forbidden to say to apes, and Aldo and the other gorillas proceed to trash the classroom and chase the teacher. They eventually capture him and plan on placing him in the corral but Caesar stops him, then tells Aldo and the other gorillas to restore the classroom. MacDonald, Caesar’s friend and aide, worries that Aldo is not just angry with humans, but also with Caesar, a concern that seems more apparent when Aldo and the gorillas ride by and almost run over Caesar as they leave. Caesar and MacDonald talk about the living situation of the apes and humans and Caesar says he is not concerned about the future but MacDonald says that Caesar can learn about the fate of the world from his own parents. MacDonald tells him that the tapes and recordings of when Cornelius and Zira were on Earth were sealed and are inside the Forbidden City. Cornelius, MacDonald, and an orangutan named Virgil, get some weapons and a geiger counter from the armory and head out into the Forbidden City, which was destroyed by an atomic bomb. As they make their way down beneath the city, Virgil notes the background radiation and says that they have to hurry or face serious radiation poisoning. Unknown to them, a group of humans, led by Governor Kolb, have survived the war and are now living beneath the city, where the radiation is slowly starting to mutate them. When Caesar and the others trip a motion sensor, Kolb is alerted to it and sends a squad of men to capture Caesar and the others. In the Archive section, Virgil finds the tape and MacDonald plays it, where Caesar is able to see the faces of his parents, as well as hear about the Earth’s destruction. Virgil notices a security camera moving and, realizing that they have been spotted, the three try to find another way out of the city. Kolb orders his men to kill the three intruders but Caesar and the others are able to escape. In his control room, Kolb believes that Caesar and the others were committing an act of espionage but his assistant, Mendez, believes that they came in peace and only acted in self defense. Kolb doesn’t believe it and thinks that Caesar is planning to return and conquer them so he sends a scout party to find out where Caesar and the others are living. As Caesar and the others return to Ape City, they are confronted by Aldo and his men, and when Virgil says they went to the Forbidden City for knowledge of the future, Aldo says that he will make his own future with his sword. Kolb’s scouting party discovers Ape City and move closer, where the observe Caesar holding a council meeting. At the meeting, Caesar tells the other apes that he went with Virgil and MacDonald to the Forbidden City and they learned that there are human survivors there but that they are violent and mad due to the radiation. When Caesar has MacDonald, Teacher, and some other humans brought to the council, arguing that they have to work together in case the humans from Forbidden City attack them, Aldo refuses to work with humans and leaves with the other gorillas. BAck at the Forbidden City, the scouts return and report to Kolb, believing Caesar was holding a council of war, and Kolb says they will attack first and organizes his army to head out. That night, while Caesar and Lisa discuss the humans in the Forbidden City, Cornelius sneaks out to chase after his pet squirrel and overhears Aldo speaking with the other gorillas. Aldo tells the gorillas that they need to grab the guns and kill all the humans and then kill Caesar, but one of the gorillas notices Cornelius in the tree. Aldo chases after Cornelius and when he refuses to come down, chops at the branch until it breaks, causing Cornelius to fall and critically injure himself. Lisa finds Cornelius and takes him back home but the doctor says that even if they had a hospital, he won’t survive. The next day, a gorilla scouting party observes Kolb’s army approaching and they kill one of the advanced scouts but Kolb sees them and has his men fire on the gorillas, killing one of them. Back at Ape City, MacDonald is telling Virgil that someone cut the branch Cornelius was on when Aldo suddenly orders a council meeting, saying the humans are coming. He has the surviving gorilla tell them that they were attacked, then Aldo orders the humans locked in the corral while the apes plan a counter attack and when MacDonald says he can’t do this as it goes against Caesar’s will, Aldo replies that Caesar isn’t there. Aldo orders martial law enacted, then heads to the armory and breaks in, where he and the other gorillas begin arming themselves. Virgil manages to sneak into Caesar’s house and tell him what is going on, just as Cornelius manages to tell Caesar that he was attacked by another ape before he dies. Virgil takes Caesar to the corral, where they see all the human’s inside and gorillas guarding all around it. Caesar argues with Aldo and demands that the humans be freed when Kolb and his men attack the city. Caesar leads the apes to the defend the city but as Kolb and his men advance, he orders them to fall back into the city. When Kolb and his men enter the city, they find a wounded Caesar surrounded by the bodies of dead apes and Kolb proceeds to taunt Caesar when Virgil and another ape throw some explosives at the vehicles and Caesar launches a counter attack, revealing that the apes were only pretending to be dead. Most of Kolb’s troops are captured but some, including Kolb manage to escape and Caesar allows them to leave but Aldo and his men appear and kill Kolb and the other escapees. Caesar then tells Virgil to free MacDonald and the other humans but Aldo says that they should be killed. Caesar stands in front of the guns and Virgil says that Aldo killed Cornelius, prompting the apes to lower the weapons. Realizing that everyone has turned against him, Aldo tries to escape and Caesar chases after him and confronts him in a tree but when Aldo tries to kill Caesar, he ends up falling to his death. When the corral is opened, MacDonald tells Caesar that the humans need to be freed completely and treated as equals and Caesar agrees and says that they will rebuild a better world. The guns are placed back in the armory and Mandemus, the armory’s caretaker, wishes to see it destroyed and Caesar says one day when they have achieved peace. The Lawgiver is shown to be talking to a group of human and ape children, saying that it has been 600 years since Caesar’s death. When a human girl asks who knows about the future, the lawgiver replies “Perhaps, only the dead” as a nearby statue of Caesar is shown to have a tear coming from it’s eye.
Battle For The Planet Of The Apes met with mixed to negative reviews, holding a 38% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, most critics felt that, compared to the previous entries, this was merely a last gasp effort to make more money off of the audience. Several scenes were cut from the theatrical version of the film which tied in more with the events of the second movie, primarily showing the doomsday bomb that will destroy the Earth. The movie was successful at the box office but only earned a little over $8.8 million off of a $1.7 million budget, making it the lowest earning movie in the series.
To be honest, this was a let down of a finale. The acting was decent, with Roddy McDowall doing a good job reprising his role of Caesar. I also liked Claude Akins (Aldo), Paul Williams (Virgil), and Austin Stoker (MacDonald) in their roles as well. The story honestly felt a little weak, as if they were trying to connect all 4 of the earlier movies but instead of tying them all in, they merely looped a piece of string around them and said “oh look, this fits”. Even with the stuff that was cut out, while it did seem to allow the film to make more sense, it looked like they were just throwing it in there for the sake of having it in there. It did seem like they wanted to portray a more positive outlook on the future, with the Lawgiver teaching humans and apes together but there are still 1300 years before Taylor arrives back on Earth, and plenty of time for the Lawgiver to change his mind and write the scrolls that Dr. Zaius follows so emphatically. The special effects were ok, with a lot of good work done on the make-up while the battle itself was only so-so. Not quite what I expected as an ending to a great series, but it is still watchable.
Rating: 3 out of 5