Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)

beneath the planet of the apes poster 1970 movie
4.5 Overall Score
Story: 4/10
Acting: 5/10
Visuals: 5/10

The ape make-up is still good

Bad story, low budget

Movie Info

Movie Name: Beneath the Planet of the Apes

Studio: 20th Century Fox

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

Release Date(s): May 26, 1970

MPAA Rating: G

beneath the planet of the apes charleton heston linda harrison

Seriously…you’re going to need to learn at least some sign language, lady

Brent (James Franciscus) has a mission.  He is to locate the missing astronaut Taylor (Charlton Heston).  Traveling in time, Brent finds himself on a planet ruled by apes where humans are their slaves and pets.  With help from Taylor’s allies Cornelius (David Watson) and Zira (Kim Hunter), Brent is about to voyage into the Forbidden Zone after Taylor and his love Nova (Linda Harrison)…unfortunately, Brent is also about to learn that the danger might not just be the apes but something lurking beneath the surface of the planet.

Directed by Ted Post, Beneath the Planet of the Apes is a science-fiction action-adventure.  Following Planet of the Apes from 1968, the second film in the series was faced with multiple production problems, and despite being released to much less favorable reviews, became a financial success.

beneath the planet of the apes kim hunter dave watson james franciscus

Forbidden Zone, don’t talk to gorillas, yadda-yadda-yadda…just give me the map

I’ve always found the movie to be a bit of a train wreck.  After the popularity and success of the first film, it was obvious that a sequel was going to be made if possible.  Heston unfortunately had all these stipulations if he was to appear in the sequel (including barely appearing and a stipulation to “end the series”).  His miniscule role almost diminishes the first movie…either the movie should have been about Brent or it should have been about Taylor.  As a result the film feels really aimless.

James Franciscus is also strangely cast.  Instead of getting an actor that had his own look, they picked an actor that looked remarkably similar to Charlton Heston.  Once again, if Heston wasn’t going to be in it and they had to replace him with Franciscus that would be one thing but since Brent and Heston are in it, it doesn’t make much sense casting too leads that look alike (there is a kind of clever and sly joke/commentary that Zira thinks Brent is Taylor for a moment…which feels like a stab at the xenophobic and racist idea that people often think every person in a culture or ethnicity different from their own “looks a like”).  Kim Hunter and Maurice Evans returned for the movie, but Roddy McDowall was filming another movie leading David Watson to replace him (with McDowall appearing in some flashback sequences).

beneath the planet of the apes brent nova james fanciscus kim hunter

No…I’m not Taylor. I’ve already tried to kill you once…I thought you’d get the point

The plot of the movie is also troublesome.  It is really irritating how Franciscus’ character comes looking for Taylor.  In the first movie, Taylor was part of a team of astronauts…apparently, the people of Earth’s past don’t care about the rest of Taylor’s team (or even think to look for them).  All that matters is Taylor…fortunately, he’s the one who survived from the first one!  The movie aimlessly follows Brent as he wanders around with no real directions…leading him to a nest of humanoid psychics who worship an atomic bomb.  The bomb ends up wiping out the planet which kind of proving the apes right that humans are the scourge of the Earth since they did it twice.  It just feels like the whole plotline should have developed earlier in the movie.

beneath the planet of the apes nuclear bomb

All hail the Bomb of Destiny!

The first film movie featured Academy Award winning visuals, and this movie keeps the design of the simians.  The difference is that the rest of the visuals of the movie aren’t up to the same level.  There are some alright desert scenes in the beginning but the hologram fire and earthquakes of the psychics are poorly done.  The movie then moves underground and the sets look slightly better than a weekly episode of Star Trek.

Overall, it is pretty unsatisfying (and one of the worse sequels of the series…Battle for the Planet of the Apes also is up there).   The movie is important to the plots of the other sequels (essentially this is the end of the Earth…in this timeline at least), but it should maybe be avoided unless you are a diehard fan.  Beneath the Planet of the Apes is followed by Escape from the Planet of the Apes in 1971.

Related Links:

Planet of the Apes (1968)

Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971)

Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)

Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)

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/Instagram/Letterboxd @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.

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