The mind of Paul Dehn was abandoned with the fifth entry in the series when he fell ill and was unable to work on the movie. New writers were brought in to close off the series. Dehn’s approach to the series was almost abandoned as the new writers had a different mandate for themselves as well as the studio. What was actually in Paul Dehn’s original script for the conclusion to the series uncannily titled “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”? We may never know.
The final chapter in the Apes series begins in 2679 with The Lawgiver (John Huston) chronicling the what happened in the past two sequels. It’s kinda like “Previously on Desperate House-Apes…” This reflection back leads us to our introduction to the first ape colony, circa ten years after Apes have taken over the world. Caesar (Roddy McDowell) and his mate Lisa (Natalie Trundy) have settled down in a treetop village with many other apes. They have a son Cornelius (Bobby Porter).
The apes are being schooled and taught to speak. And there is an unrest in the colony between a General Aldo (Claude Akins) and Caesar.
When Malcolm (Austin Stoker), brother of the Malcolm from Conquest, tells Caesar there could be recordings of his parents and that they might be the key to guiding the new ape civilization, Caesar sets out a plan to find this footage. Their journey takes deep into ‘the forbidden city’ or a city which was nuked during the war where they tangle with the descendants of the mutants from Beneath.
The movie’s story, conflict and resolution is kind of a sour note to a pretty interesting and balanced series. The final movie is kind of a letdown like Beneath was. It just didn’t embrace what had come before. Plus the story feels like a made-for-TV movie.
Hardly any of the changes to the show’s progression has been explained. Conquest did a great job of bringing us up to date. Sure we have a recap from the Lawgiver but we get no explanation to what happened between Conquest and Battle. What do you mean nukes were used? How did the apes start talking so quick? Where did these elder orangutans come from? Nothing is explained and that’s plain frustrating.
The sad thing is that this is the last in the Apes feature film series. By this point Roddy McDowell is just going through the paces. Natalie Trundy, who has been with the series since the second film, is completely wasted. Claude Akins is just a blowhard and a Dudley Do-Right type-villain.
There are some interesting cameos like John Huston as the Lawgiver and if you look closely you will find cameos from John Landis and Colleen Camp. This is actually Camp’s debut film.
It is also worth noting that Apes producer Arthur P Jacobs sold the rights to the series to Fox at the end of this film thus spawning the TV show.
Jacobs would die just shortly after the release of this film and he would never see the full impact of APE NATION with the merchandising explosion with the TV series. His legacy is still the Apes series.
1.5 out of 5
So Says the Soothsayer
PLANET OF THE APES SERIES
Planet of the Apes 5 of 5
Beneath the Planet of the Apes 2 of 5
Escape from the Planet of the Apes 4 of 5
Conquest of the Planet of the Apes 3.5 of 5
Battle for the Planet of the Apes 1.5 out of 5
Side Note: The movie comes in two versions on the Blu-Ray of the film. Extended version and theatrical version. The main difference is the extended is over 10 minutes longer and includes a scene that directly ties this film to Beneath the Planet of the Apes.