The Video Vacuum (thevideovacuum) wrote,
The Video Vacuum
thevideovacuum

ESCAPE FROM THE PLANET OF THE APES (1971) ** ½

 

Planet of the Apes movie number 3 has Dr. Cornelius (Roddy McDowall) and Dr. Zira (Kim Hunter) escaping the total annihilation of the world in Beneath the Planet of the Apes by flying Charlton Heston’s spaceship back through time to the (then) present day of the 70’s.  The military doesn’t quite know what to do with the apes, so they toss them into the zoo where vet Bradford (The Mephisto Waltz) Dillman studies them.  When they reveal their intelligent selves to him, he makes them celebrities.  The public immediately takes a shine to the talking monkeys from the future, but unfortunately Victor from Young and the Restless wants them D-E-A-D because he knows that eventually the apes will inherit the Earth.  Things get increasingly complicated when he discovers that Zira is pregnant and that her potential offspring may bring about the downfall of the human race.  When Victor marks the unborn baby for termination, the proud parents flee and take refuge in Ricardo Montalban’s circus where Zira delivers a baby boy.  Victor finally finds the damn dirty apes and guns them down, but not before their primate progeny is rescued by Montalban so he can go on to star in the next sequel. 

 

Again, the studio saved a bunch of money by setting this in modern times and only having three monkey suits to maintain.  Director Don (Damien:  The Omen 2) Taylor competently handles things in a workmanlike manner and delivers a solidly entertaining entry to the series.  The present day setting actually adds to the fun and allowed screenwriter Paul Dehn to add some sly social commentary that was severely missing from the second installment.  (I particularly liked the way that Cornelius and Zira almost immediately became mass consumers and started sporting funky 70’s fashions and the way Zira became a figure for the women’s movement.)  Unfortunately, things get extremely sluggish after Cornelius and Zira escape the clutches of Victor and the like all of the Apes movies, the ending is a bummer. 

 

McDowall and Hunter are completely charming and their chemistry together keeps the film afloat whenever it loses it’s way.  The great human supporting cast includes M. Emmett (The Jerk) Walsh and Jason (The Brain That Wouldn’t Die) Evers, and seeing Victor from Guiding Light (minus his trademark moustache) as the slimy villain only adds to the fun. 

 

McDowall returned the next year in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. 

Tags: e, planet of the apes series, sci-fi, sequel
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