Planet of the Apes (1968) is without a doubt a milestone in novel adaptations and science fiction. As a series they touched on social unrest, evolution and the possibilities of space and time travel.
Four sequels followed Franklin J. Schaffner apes: Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970); Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971); Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972); Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)followed apes quickly in secession and while the sequels were inciting the quality never did matched the original.
The TV series followed with Planet of the Apes (1974) and the animated Return to the Planet of the Apes(1975). The hastely speed in which they were made and released in amongst a toy spree (before the infamous Star Wars (1977) merchandising) is what probably lead to it's downfall, in a way they slaughted the cash-cow and golden goose within 6 years.
In 2001 Tim Burtons reimagining was released and ten years later Rise of the Planet of the Apes, an original origin film that pays homage to the original 1968 film was released.
Below are my comments on the 1968 original, the 2001 reimagined version and 2011's Rise...
Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
In a personal bid to help his father's medical condition a man's experiments for a genetic engineering company leads to the dangerous development of an intelligence in apes.
Although it departs in many ways from the original films, it is a fantastic piece of entertainment in its own right. Rise of the Planet of The Apes mixes the right amount of character development with story, effects and performances capturing the imagination of a new generation.
Despite a good cast with great performances notably from John Lithgow and James Franco, it's the apes themselves and Andy Serkis coupled with some state of the art special effects that steal the show.
Amanda Silver and Rick Jaffa's writing keeps the action and emotion somewhat believable, that Franco handles particularly well. The contemporary setting of San Francisco gives the film a familiar believable feel and it is a good contrast to the dark caged scenes and sterile lab sets. Patrick Doyle's score compliments the action and stirs feelings during the poignant moments.
Rupert Wyatt's direction ensures there's enough surprises and action setups to give Rise momentum. Wyatt's handling of Caesar manages to demand attention throughout with a welcomed display of edginess, danger and intelligence. There's also an added odd eeriness due to the ape actions and glancing looks. In addition, the writers and Wyatt thoughtfully give enough nods to the original to humble fans and hints at possible sequels throughout to tease further interest.
Overall, Rise manages to be an emotional ride, successfully grounding the concept of the originals while eradicating Burton's 2001 missed opportunity. Caesar is home...
Planet of the Apes (1968)
Franklin J. Schaffner is never given enough credit when it comes to the genuine sci-fi classic Planet of the Apes. The talking points are usually the twist ending, or the late great Charlton Heston and Roddy McDowall.
A philosophical sci-fi made in 1968 and nominated for two Oscars it still holds up today as a social parable, effective drama with a relevant and underlining social commentary. It's the primitive depiction of an ape civilisation rather than technologically society made Planet of the Apes standout as the iconic film it is haled as today.
'Apes builds up nicely, there's a wonderful score, (groundbreaking for the time) by Jerry Goldsmith, creating eerie and ominous atmosphere with the first exciting ape reveal at about 30 minutes in.
The film is wonderfully directed and has a solicitous and thought proving screenplay by Michael Wilson & Rod Serling. That said source material was from Pierre Boulle's very wry, whimsical and thoughtful novel. Astoundingly Boulle is also author of The Bridge over the River Kwai.
The few visual effects are sufficient but the ape make up is admirable and star of the show. Recognisable only by their voices Kim Hunter as human conservationist Dr. Zira and the anxious Cornelius played by McDowall are splendidly magnificent as they assist Taylor played by the boldly cast film legend Heston to escape the command of the apes. The attractive Linda Harrison, who plays Nova is effective and the British classical actor, in orangutan make-up Maurice Evans is outstanding, giving a weight of believability to the subject matter.
Planet of the Apes is an original science fiction must see.
Planet of the Apes (2001)
Remake, re-imagination whatever you'd like to label it as, Planet of the Apes (2001) is inferior to the original 1968 film in almost every way.
That said, the make up is excellent, Tim Roth as Thade is fantastic, Colleen Atwood costumes are notable and Danny Elfman's thumping score is an achievement. The spaceship sets and on the location night scenes have a unique atmosphere and edge about them. Even Mark Wahlberg tries his best to handle the half-baked script and there are a few welcomed cameos from some of the original cast.
On the flip side there's some choppy editing, an uneven story, the ape city and the sandy finale are emotionless and uninspiring. Slipped in is some unnecessary humour, usually supplied by Paul Giamatti (aptly named Limbo) and you never feel any danger or threat from the apes apart from Thade. Also, there's no likable characters to really root for. Nevertheless, nothing can save nominated director and visionary Tim Burton's incarnation of Apes.
The fist ten minutes and the last two are probably the most attention-grabbing of this version but with an estimated budget $100,000,000 there's no excuse for the travesty in between. Thankfully Rise of the Planet of th Apes (2011) put the series on track.