Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)

battle for the planet of the apes poster 1973 movie
5.0 Overall Score
Acting: 6/10
Story: 4/10
Visuals: 3/10

Takes the series' story in a different direction

Cheap looking and poorly plotted

Movie Info

Movie Name: Battle for the Planet of the Apes

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Genre(s): Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s): June 15, 1973

MPAA Rating: G

battle for the planet of the apes caesar aldo roddy mcdowall claude akins

Hey…you’re Claude Akins, aren’t you?

The war is over, and Caesar (Roddy McDowall) is ruling a small group of apes and humans in peace in the forest.  Unfortunately, Aldo (Claude Akins) of the gorillas see humans as an ever present threat, and MacDonald (Austin Stoker) also finds humans are not being treated as equals.  When Caesar, MacDonald, and an orangutan named Virgil (Paul Williams) go on a mission to the remains of the human city to find evidence of what Caesar’s parents spoke of the future, the peace brokered between the apes and the hidden human survivors under the city is broken.  War is coming to Ape City, and Aldo intends to use the battle to make a coup…Caesar will fall!

Directed by J. Lee Thompson, Battle for the Planet of the Apes is the fifth film and final film in the original post-apocalyptic science-fiction series.  Following Conquest of the Planet of the Apes in 1972, the film was met with negative reviews and poor box office return.

battle for the planet of the apes human army

It’s kind of like Mad Max…but crappier

While it felt like Planet of the Apes movies ruled the weekends when I was young, Battle for the Planet of the Apes rarely aired.  The movie is oddly paced and the grandeur of the original film is lost by this point.  Battle of the Planet of the Apes is a whimper in comparison to the roar of Planet of the Apes.

The ideas behind the movie aren’t entirely off base.  The concepts in the film introduce parallel realities (something that the new Planet of the Apes films can hold as a means to “continue” the original films).  Essentially the timeline for Planet of the Apes ended with Beneath the Planet of the Apes and everything after that has been a prequel or possible divergent timeline.  Unfortunately, Battle for the Planet of the Apes isn’t a very interesting timeline except the story aspect that introduce the characters responsible for the Earth’s destruction in Beneath the Planet of the Apes.

battle for the planet of the apes paul williams virgil

Make-up or no make-up, Paul Williams creeped me out as a kid

While Roddy McDowell returns to play the lead ape Caesar, much of the cast doesn’t have much to do.  Claude Akins is recognizable as the leader of the gorillas with his unique voice and Paul Williams is also kind of recognizable as the orangutan Virgil (I always found Paul Williams a little odd anyway as a kid).  Severn Darden returns as Kolp (and is over-the-top) while John Huston has a small role in the bookend scenes as the Lawgiver.

The first Planet of the Apes film was considered revolutionary in its special effects (which might be hard for viewers to believe now), but by Battle for the Planet of the Apes, the special effects are looking pretty weak.  The effort put into the apes is obviously lower and “Ape City” along with the wreckage of the city are poorly designed.  The city scenes are people running down a few dark factory hallways while the Ape City scenes are just a group of people in costumes fighting in a field…I wonder what the film would be like if it took a Road Warrior type approach.

battle for the planet of the apes roddy mcdowall caesar

It’s man vs. ape and gorilla vs. ape

Battle for the Planet of the Apes isn’t a very good film, but it does carry on some interesting science-fiction ideas.  It questions if history is really written and proposes alternate realities which of course are the rage in modern films.  The film was followed by the Planet of the Apes TV series which aired for a season and the animated series Return to the Planet of the Apes which also aired for one season.  The franchise returned in 2001 with Tim Burton’s version of Planet of the Apes followed by a new trilogy of films beginning with Rise of the Planet of the Apes in 2011.

Related Links:

Planet of the Apes (1968)

Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)

Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971)

Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)

Return to the Planet of the Apes—The Complete Series Review and Episode Guide

Planet of the Apes (2001)

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

Leave A Response