One Sunday locked up in my house suffering from a severe throat infection in the late 70s, which would not let me get out of bed, it became the best opportunity to see a festival of the Planet of the Apes in the now extinct channel 8 of the capital. They broadcasted the five films that had been made so far, adaptations of the novel by Frenchman Pierre Boulle «La Planete Des Singes – (The Planet of the Apes)» (1962).
I immediately got caught and went to read the book and watched the television series, which only lasted one 14-episode season. It even had some figures. (I still have Urko). Almost 40 years later I find myself with a new saga, and although usually, a person tends to idealize and put on a pedestal the movies and programs that one enjoyed in childhood over the new attempts of the industry to recreate them, I consider much better achieved this new saga. The three new releases «Rise» «Dawn» and the new «War for the Planet of the Apes» I consider that they are better as a whole than the original 5, although among them there is an iconic film in the cinema.
In 1968 «Planet of the Apes» was released and immediately became an iconic film in the history of science fiction and cinema. It is the tape that is most closely based on the book. Charlton Heston was a star at the time and he played astronaut George Taylor, to whom his spaceship crashes and finds himself in a world ruled by apes and humans are mere wild beasts. The masks and makeup to personify the apes were novel. The line “Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape” is considered the classic line # 66 by the American Film Institute, and the ending with the statue of liberty semi-buried by the sand is also one of the most iconic images in the history of cinema. It’s the best of all the Planet of the Apes sagas, new or old.
Given the success of the first film, the producers saw the gold mine it meant. In 1970 they released “Beneath the Planet of the Apes”. Another astronaut falls to the same world of the apes. More elements are incorporated such as telepathic mutant humans, nuclear bombs, and more spaceships. Although the premise is interesting, the movie is slow. Not even the brief return of the beloved George Taylor (Heston) at the end of the film manages to save it. Still, it was a financial success for the producers.
Immediately in 1971 comes «Escape from the Planet of the Apes», where three apes escape from the nuclear catastrophe of the previous film in Taylor’s ship, and return to the past, still dominated by men. Two of these apes, Cornelius and Zira have a son, Caesar. Better than the previous one, it is again a moderate success at the box office.
1972 another new film «Conquest of the Planet of the Apes». Yes, the producers were in a hurry to take advantage of the popularity that the series lived and continued with their hot trending films. Caesar organizes an uprising of the apes to overthrow the humans. The film is slow too, full of plot-holes. The wear on the saga begun was already beginning to be felt. But the story of this movie was the inspiration for «Rise of the Planet of the Apes»
New year, new movie. 1973 «Battle for the Planet of the Apes» Caesar, already the leader of the apes, fights to save apes and humans alike. Very bad. The artistic wear was total and it had repercussions with the public that no longer supported attending the film. The gold mine dried.
Tim Burton tries to relaunch the saga with «Planet of the Apes» in 2001 but the film is a failure both in criticism and at the box office. The final twist is ridiculous. Perhaps the director’s worst film.
The new era
Finally in 2011 «Rise of the Planet of the Apes» is released, making a new story of how this planet ruled by apes originated, and begins with the origin of its leader Caesar, played by Andy Serkis (Gollum, from the Lord of the Rings) and how they get smart. It is carried neatly and with wit. Refreshing. Box office success and moderately accepted by critics. The new saga began with the right foot.
«Dawn of the Planet of the Apes» arrived in 2014. Caesar and the group of intelligent apes are attacked by the few surviving humans of the virus that wiped out humanity. Critically acclaimed and again a box office hit. A bit better than the previous one.
«War for the Planet of the Apes» was released in 2017. The war of Caesar and the apes against the surviving humans continues. But here Cornelius is already introduced, as the son of Caesar, the next leader of the apes, and Nova, the human who accompanies astronaut Taylor in the original film. Even better than the previous two, success with critics and the general public.
Which one is better?
In conclusion, the original saga, although it has an iconic film in the cinema, the rush of the producers to take advantage of the success of the saga financially, gave us sequels that although they had good ideas, gave mediocre or simply bad results. In the context of the time, they were well received, but that lack of quality resulted that these movies have not aged well.
The new saga has been carried out with patience and intelligence. Special effects have replaced makeup, and have helped give Caesar and his apes a believable emotional range, giving him a deeper personality. They have taken the time to make the films, and have tried to show a more «believable» evolution from a world ruled by humans to the new one ruled by apes. Intellectually it is much more rewarding. And each film was better than the previous one.
I think that as a whole, the new saga is better, since it does not have a single bad movie. Yes. I like the new saga better. Although my inner child says otherwise.