Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Beneath the Planet of the Apes|
Actors: James Franciscus, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans, Linda Harrison, Charlton Heston
Director: Ted Post
Genres: Action & Adventure, Science Fiction & Fantasy
In the acclaimed sequel to Planet of the Apes, another astronaut (James Franciscus) crashes through the time barrier searching for the missing Taylor (Charlton Heston). The daring rescue leads to a subterranean city where... more »
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The Most Misunderstood Of The Series
MF Regan | Ontario, Canada | 10/27/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
I'll preface this review by saying 'Planet of the Apes' remains my favorite movie of all time (so far). And in an age where film has been reduced to terms like 'franchises', the prerequisite to even a sequel must remain 'is there a story to be told'? As both a writer and a member of the audience, I cherish the surprise but detest the fact that if I buy into it- someone in an office somewhere thinks I'll buy into 'Star Trek, Indiana Jones or Star Wars 46'.
Planet remains the classic- the next three sequels are a terrific companion piece, adapting its suggested history and fleshing it out. Avoid Battle. The stories have been told.
Beneath has always remained the maligned, misunderstood one and I want to address that in my review. Being the only actual sequel (the other 3 being prequels), has something to do with that. I personally think it rose to the challenge of following a classic admirably- thanks to the team of Jacobs, Dehn, Abrahams, Post and Franciscus.
The two most confused criticisms are Franciscus filling Heston's shoes, and that it somehow repeats half of the first film. Beneath is a film that I think you have to view a few times- sometimes that's the sign of a good book or film. In this case, I think it is.
Taylor was a cynical character. An absolute individual. A man escaping something in search of something different. Something better. It's the beauty of the first film and Heston's portrayal. It allows us to care and become involved in what awaits and is about to confront him.
Brent as the next character can't be afforded the same luxury. That would be repeating. Franciscus (who contributed much of what he said and did on screen), has to play an 'everyman'. An astronaut in search of another; following the orders of his mission. His remarks in the opening passage to both his dying skipper and Nova reflect that. He's trying to remain hopeful and find himself in a strange environment. It's only after encountering both the Ape society and then the Mutants, he ultimately caves to any sense of hope.
Watch Franciscus's subtle portrayal of that rather difficult task. Quite a performance and massively underated. Heston, who cited Franciscus as a very good actor, was wrong about Brent's part. Playing an 'everyman' is very difficult and I think Franciscus's lines gave us a good sense of the character in a story that had two society's to contend with, this time around. Thematically, it was more epic in nature.
As for his being taken by Nova back to ape city (the repetitious aspect cited)- very few seem to notice a marvelous thread being woven here: the opening flashback showing/teasing us about Taylor's strange disappearance (and really nicely handled visually), is what leads Brent (and us) back to a society now on the slide. Ape City is in a state of political change.
This is the point of this film. Zauis was the safeguard (perhaps) of the apes not repeating man's mistakes. Ursus's speech shows us military expansionism, a struggle for leadership, and sending an army to war ' in the name of faith', as he quotes their Lawgiver's words back to them.
The shadow spreads that the Apes will be no different, in the end, than man.
As Brent and Nova escape this, they fall into the hands of the Mutants- and this madness is heightened (to an uncomfortable but an unbelievably imaginative climax). The combination of faith flag waving, and the weird embracing of death culture is thought provoking (and unfortunately, still very timely).
There in lies the amazing thing about this film. It took the magnificant implication of the first film's ending, and offered a very dark, wonderous tone poem conclusion to it.
It tells its story and it has its own ideas, its own shape, scope and insights. It also had the guts via a science fiction film to state " look what we do to one another in the name of faith or with the idea that God is somehow on 'someone's side'.
I also think that it wove a marvelous conclusion to Taylor's attempted escape of the world and mankind; to where it ultimately led him- and finally what it ultimately asked of him.
For those about to view or about to rewatch it- it's not Planet of the Apes. It wisely understood that story had been told.
It has its own story- however dark. It dared to be different and not a 'franchise set up'. It also has some real questions it asks, some marvelous performances (Franciscus and James Gregory as Ursus), some inspired direction and a very good score by Roseman. Oh yes, lest we foreget ... and Heston as Taylor."
My favorite of the Apes series
T O'Brien | Chicago, Il United States | 07/05/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Beneath the Planet of the Apes is the second movie in the series and my personal favorite. Probably the darkest of all five movies, the story begins with Taylor and Nova riding through the Forbidden Zone where the first one left off. Taylor mysteriously disappears, but Nova is able to find Brent, the only survivor of the crew sent to rescue Taylor. After seeing Ape City, Brent and Nova go into the Forbidden Zone where they find an underground city of mutants who worship an atomic bomb as their god. Meanwhile, the Apes are planning an attack on the Forbidden City. The story is very good and also examines the prejudices of the Apes that are so similar to the ones of the humans they so despise. This is not the happiest movie, especially the ending, but it is still a great movie and the ending does fit. James Franciscus plays Brent, the astronaut who survives the crash, and plays it very well. His performance is similar to that of Charlton Heston's in the first one, and at some points they even look alike. Charlton Heston does make a brief cameo in the beginning before disappearing and then comes back in the last twenty minutes to help Brent. Kim Hunter reprises her role of Zira while David Watson takes the role of Cornelius instead of Roddy McDowall who was busy working on a different project at the time. Maurice Evans is great again as Dr. Zaius with James Gregory giving an excellent role as General Ursus, the leader of the armies bent on destroying anything they come across in the Forbidden Zone. Linda Harrison is gorgeous as Nova, and she even gets to say something in this one. Fans of the series will love this movie even if the budget was less than the first one, which is very obvious in some scenes. The Planet of the Apes is offered on DVD but each individual film is not offered seperately. Too bad, because these are great films. For fans of the Ape series, check out Beneath the Planet of the Apes!"
Interesting prospective on doomsday
Ali Hosseinian | Wilmette, Illinois United States | 04/03/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie I believe is one of the most underrated movies of the Planet of the Apes series. The movie shows the apes greed and how corrupted they have become. Also the mutant humans how they have their doomsday bomb. The point of this movie is that are own worst enemy is ourselves. The end of the world will be caused by just a few greedy people. Oh yeah Nova is very hot in this movie!"
Gorillas on the March!
Joel R. Bryan | Athens, Georgia United States | 02/08/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
""Beneath the Planet of the Apes" is the second and most whacked-out film in the "Apes" series. It's somewhat successful due to sheer psychedelic madness, despite a budget cut that forces some of the players into ill-fitting and really dopey-looking masks. James Franciscus works hard as Brent, the human this go-around. He gets a bit deranged by his experiences, but recovers in the bizarro third act where he reunites the lovely Nova (Linda Harrison) with Taylor (Charlton Heston again) beneath a ruined New York while the whole ape army storms the place. Unfortunately, this movie began the series' flirtation with camp and heavy-handed social commentary. You get to hear a gorilla general (effectively played by James Gregory) preach genocide, and witness a mini-recreation of the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention right there on the streets of Ape City, as chimp peaceniks try a little nonviolence; the gorilla police don't take to hippies, either. Still, it's a lot of fun and features some funky hallucinations and freaky special effects- especially when the mutant humans pull off their masks and reveal their skinless faces while worshipping an atomic bomb. And not just any atomic bomb- but a special one that'll destroy all life on earth. Well, you get the idea. Check it out and have some trippy fun some night when you don't have anything better to do. Kim Hunter and Maurice Evans return from the first film; this is the only "Apes" movie without the fantastic Roddy McDowall, who would subsequently the series' central figure with his winning chimp portrayals. Comes with the added bonus of having more Nova action than the first, too."