Planet of the Apes (1968)

planet of the apes poster 1968 movie
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great make-up, Charlton Heston's over-the-top performance


Movie Info

Movie Name: Planet of the Apes

Studio: 20th Century Fox

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

Release Date(s): February 8, 1968

MPAA Rating: G

planet of the apes dead astronaut

Stewart…talk to me…why are you being so quiet…what are you trying to tell me?

Astronauts find themselves stranded on an alien planet after a space journey flings them into the future.  Taylor (Charlton Heston) discovers the planet is inhabited by humanoid apes and that men are their slaves.  Fighting for survival Taylor finds allies in some of the sympathetic scientists who realize that something is different about him.  Will Taylor be able to remain free and escape the apes that seek to silent him?

Directed by Franklin J. Schaffner, Planet of the Apes adapts the 1963 novel by Pierre Boulle (Boulle also authored Bridge on the River Kwai).  The film was released to critical acclaim and huge box office numbers.  The movie received nominations for Best Costume Design and Best Score and earned an honorary Oscar for Best Make-Up for John Chambers.

planet of the apes three wise monkeys tribunal

Dr. Zaius, Dr. Zaius!!!!

The Planet of the Apes ruled the weekends growing up.  It felt like one of the Planet of the Apes movies was always on when it was a lazy Saturday or Sunday (if not Planet of the Apes, Godzilla roared).  The first movie still is the best film of the original series, and the film provides a different and unique commentary than could be expected from a movie about talking apes.

Planet of the Apes could have just been another Saturday B-Movie, but the script was very smart.  It turned the idea of apes and humans around and emphasized human weaknesses by giving the personality traits to the apes.  It also does interesting things involving class and race.  Gorillas are the muscles, orangutans are the community leaders, and chimpanzees are the everyday workers.  When Taylor shows up, it throws the ideas and teaching of the apes into question (a similar debate exists between if signing apes really know what they are signing or mimicking…much like Taylor was accused of doing in Planet of the Apes).

planet of the apes zira kim hunter taylor charles heston kiss

Oh yeah…Bright Eyes is going to get him some of that!

The actors were smartly cast and Heston just eats up every scene he is in with brash over acting, but it works.  Who can forget “Get your stinking paws off of me you damn dirty ape!”.  Very few actors could pull off a line that ridiculous.  Planet of the Apes is full of “Heston” moments like that, but Roddy McDowell (as Cornelius), Kim Hunter (as Zira), and Maurice Evans (as Dr. Zaius) also do a great job bringing real characters out of the heavy make-up they wear.

Unlike all of its sequels, Planet of the Apes feels big and is big.  It obviously has a larger budget than most movies of its type and really looks quite good.  It has nice cinematography and really utilizes the barren desert landscape.  In addition to this, the big draw to Planet of the Apes was of course the ape make-up.  There are points where it is very good (around the eyes, the make-up always made them appear more human), but sometimes it was bad (around the mouths did not always work always work).

planet of the apes ending statue of liberty

I wish Heston’s character just sat there staring and said… “I don’t get it”

With the idea of thought and questioning social boundaries, Planet of the Apes goes from just being a fantasy to true science-fiction.  It is smart but maintains the fun that makes it a fast fantasy movie also.  New viewers might struggle with pacing, but give it a chance and think about the revolutionary nature of the film.  It also contains one of the classic “twist” endings (and another often quoted Heston line:  “You maniacs…You blew it up…God damn you!  God damn you all to Hell!”).  Planet of the Apes has held up over the years and deserves to be watched and rewatched. Planet of the Apes was followed by Beneath the Planet of the Apes in 1970.

Related Links:

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)

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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