Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)

conquest of the planet of the apes poster 1972 movie
6.0 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 5/10

Return to gritty violent style of the first movie

Cheap looking

Movie Info

Movie Name: Conquest of the Planet of the Apes

Studio: 20th Century Fox/APJAC Productions

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

Release Date(s): June 29, 1972 (Premiere)/June 30, 1972 (US)

MPAA Rating: PG

Listen, ape…if you call me Khan or Mr. Roarke one more time I’ll personally turn you in…

Caesar (Roddy McDowall) has grown up protected in the circus of Armondo (Ricardo Montobaun), and the truth that he is the intelligent offspring of the murdered Zira and Cornelius is hidden.  Living in a world where apes are slaves, Caesar finds himself forced into slavery and serving the men he despises.  With his people enslaved, Caesar must risk his life for his people and the only hope is turning ape against man in a battle for freedom.

Directed by J. Lee Thompson, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes is a science-fiction action-adventure film.  Following Escape from the Planet of the Apes in 1971, the film was the fourth film in the franchise.  The film was also the only Planet of the Apes to receive a PG rating after the previous installments were rated G.  The film received mixed reviews..

conquest of the planet of the apes caesar tortured roddy mcdowall

Um….just want to point out to you that this is going to come back and bite you in the ass

The Planet of the Apes films were a part of childhood, but the last two films in the series were always the outliers.  With a more radical plot and ramped up violence, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes feels different in tone and message than the previous entires…it is a militant approach to the concept of race and slavery.

The story draws parallels the civil rights movement in its telling more than anything else…and a need for violence.  Caesar sees his people enslaved, treated as subhuman, and segregated from the society they serve…this is all good fodder for the film.  Unfortunately, the film moves too rapidly, and like something like Battlefield Earth, it has the apes gaining the intelligence to move on their human captors in days or weeks.  It feels like the movie should be a marathon but instead it is a sprint.  In ramping up the speed, it loses the realism.

The budget also had come way down by this point.  Some of the apes were just rubber masks and the “futuristic” sets just looked like leftovers from Star Trek.  The city is bland and features a generic plaza as the main set piece.  Many of the props really were just leftovers from TV series like Time Tunnel, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, and Land of the Giants.

conquest of the planet of the apes ending gorillas don murray

Looks like I’m about to get conquested….

Roddy McDowall still helps by making Caesar feel real.  It isn’t that Caesar is really any different that his Cornelius character, but he is much more cynical.  There are some interesting moments involving his trust of humans versus his hatred.  It would have been nice if that aspect had been more developed and maybe had been the thrust of the plot.

Conquest of the Planet of the Apes is better than Beneath the Planet of the Apes but worse than Escape from the Planet of the Apes.  The classic Planet of the Apes is a great film, it is too bad that a little more effort wasn’t put into the sequels.  This film also helped serve as the basis for the 2011 relaunch of the series Rise of the Planet of the ApesConquest of the Planet of the Apes was followed by the final installment of the original series Battle for the Planet of the Apes in 1973.

Related Links:

Planet of the Apes (1968)

Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)

Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971)

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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