27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Great Concepts, Great Characters, Classic Moments, Chilling Possibilities,
This review is from: Planet of the Apes: The Legacy Collection (Planet of the Apes / Beneath the / Escape from the / Conquest of the / Battle for the) (DVD)
I rank the original "Planet Of The Apes" series very high among the plentiful output of science fiction movies of their era. Although the special effects are not brilliant by today's standards (compensated for somewhat by the quality designs of what they were trying to capture, even if the execution seems somewhat hampered in retrospect) and the action sequences are occasionnally rather low-impact, the strengths of the series - a great, thought-provoking and memorable story that weaves through all five movies; solid and impressive characters among both human and ape; a nice job on the photography; and mind-blowing endings to most of the movies; make up for any shortcomings.
The endings have become legendary, especially the finale to the first movie (which I'm certainly not going to give away here, in case anyone reading this is among the 22 or so people on the planet who don't yet know it; they even used to have the final shot on the Cover of one of the editions of the boxed set, for crying out loud). The secrets of the conclusions to "Beneath The Planet Of The Apes" and "Escape From The Planet Of The Apes", however, aren't nearly as well-known by people who haven't seen the movies yet, which is good, because it gives one a chance to have some of the surprises unhampered by foreknowledge. The end moments of "Escape", in particular, are haunting, the kind of thing that can give one chills just remembering it.
It's hard to talk to much about the latter movies in the saga without giving away far too much. The original, "Planet Of The Apes" has Earth astronauts making an emergency crash-landing on an unknown world, where it turns out that apes, not humans, are the dominant species. Captured, the humans - indigineous to the planet but very primitive, in addition to the more scientifically advanced spacefarers - find themselves imprisoned in wooden cages (rudimentary equivelents to the barren metal cages of old, pre-'simulated natural habitat' zoos?). The apes of the world are diverse - there are some who view the human population as mindless beasts without rights, while others are sympathetic to the humans's plight. There is also considerable friction between the three races of apes - gorillas, orangitans, and chimpanzees (notice quite a few real-world parralells yet?).
The series - which continues through "Beneath...", "Escape...", "Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes" and "Battle For The Planet Of The Apes" (disc 6 in the collection is a behind-the-scenes documentary) has some recurring characters, continues to introduce new ones, introduces new concepts and layers and twists to the concept. By the 4th and 5th entries, the series is admittedly losing some steam, but judged on their own each of those is still a good movie. Great price, too. Any fan of adventure movies, science fiction, or movies that offer volumes of fodder for thought and dream, should consider picking this set of classics up.