Director: Ted Post
Cast: John Franciscus, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans, James Gregory, David Watson, Linda Harrison, Charlton Heston
Synopsis: John Brent is the only survivor of a crew that was sent following Taylor’s trajectory in an effort to find him. He is found in the desert by Nova, whom has lost Taylor in their wonderings due to some curious environmental occurences.He escapes the ape city, assisted by Cornelius and Zira, and discovers the former subway system of New York, which hides a society of intelligent human survivors.Having started with the original Planet of the Apes, Bride of Film Nerd and I continued on with the first sequel, Beneath the Planet of the Apes last night. My expectations were low, I will admit, based on the simple rule that sequels are rarely as good as the original film. I was fortunately surprised then to find myself quite entertained by this instalment, and that goes a long way to explain why the franchise is still be revived today.
In the realm of cinematography, this film is a step above its predecessor. The camera work is smoother and lacks the over the top antics that were seen previously. The pacing was also a lot better, with some action sequences inserted quite early on. By today’s standards, some of the visual effects are certainly dodgy, but none-the-less effective. Also, the continuity provided by the presence of Cornelius, Zira, Dr, Zaius, Nova and Taylor does strongly connect this film to the strong original.
The film can be confusing to start, but all questions are answered in the second half of the film. Though a better film in many respects, up until the later moments in the film, this film does not equal the first in terms of ideas. The most fascinating elements are the examination of the separation of classes within the ape society, with certain characteristics and occupations clearly being delineated between chimpanzees, orangutans, and gorillas. The latter are very prominent in this feature, clearly being the apes of a more militaristic nature.
From the human point of view, interest is elicited when we finally meet the underground human survivors. They are not the allies one may hope for, and seem somewhat crazy, despite having evolved beyond speech into telepathy. W learn very early on that they worship a remaining nuclear device as their god, and despite their protestations of peace, their definition of peace leaves a lot to be desired. It is in this story that the main morale of the film is elicited. This is very much a film that was a product of the Cold War, and the fear of society concerning nuclear holocaust. The ending certainly does have shock value, and I was unable to predict how the chips would fall.
The first film had some poor production values, but fantastic ideas. This sequel has some great production values, and some good ideas, that maybe not quite as shocking as the original, were still very relevant for society. So overall, a worthy sequel.
3.5 stars out of 5