"Following the cataclysmic finale of Beneath the Planet of the Apes, there was only one logical direction for the series to go---> back to the future. The result is an illogically conceived and satirical prequel that will amuse and delight and ultimately devastate with its bleak Shakesperean tragedy.
When Taylor's spacecraft unexpectedly splashes down in 1973 and is retrieved by a military envoy, the three astronauts that emerge from the capsule are not revealed to be Taylor, Landon and Dodge, but rather the astonishing simian ape-o-nauts Cornelius, Zira and Milo... the third of which is a completely disposeable character who is appropriately killed off very early by a caged zoo gorilla who was probably jealous that the talking simian chimpanzees were getting all of the attention. With Milo out of the picture, the story focuses on the relationship between Cornelius and Zira in ways that were not afforded the opportunity in the two previous films and is filled with tongue-in-cheek episodes inspired by Pierre Boulle's original novel as Cornelius and Zira go around "aping" 20th century human culture (a subtle and clever mockery of our own) in an attempt to make themselves fit in to our society.
While Cornelius and Zira make themselves at home as cultural "celebrities" they are being carefully monitored under the watchful auspices of the nefarious Dr. Otto Hasslein played by recognizable character actor Eric Braeden (of Young and the Restless fame) who listens with great interest to what the talking chimps have to say about where they came from during a Presidential Inquiry and how they managed to arrive in Taylor's spacecraft as Cornelius explains that it landed on their seaboard and was repaired by Milo -- an implausibility which is the film's glaring continuity error since Taylor's spacecraft immediately sunk into the depths of the Forbidden Zone it is a far fetched conclusion that they somehow managed to not only find, retrieve and repair it (even if they had repaired Astronaut Brent's crashed spacecraft from Beneath) with engineering far in advance of their own intellectual ape intelligence (which Milo only "half-understood" as Cornelius describes it) but managed to do so and escape within a very small window of time before the planet was obliterated by the shockwave of destruction catapulting them backwards in time and arriving at roughly the same destination and era as Taylor's original point of departure (it could be argued that these narrative discrepancies support the theory of "Hasslein's Observed Time Curve" which suggests that a predestination paradox created alternate intersecting timelines as illustrated by the incongruent timeline of events that occur between Conquest and Battle). Nevertheless, once you get past the narrative gaps and just go with it, Escape is a fun and dramatically intense film but is my least favorite second only to the weakest link in the evolutionary Apes chain; Battle For The Planet of the Apes.
When Zira announces that she is pregnant, the film takes a dark and conspiratorial turn when the government realizes the consequence a race of intelligent talking apes will have on the future of our human civilization. In an effort to protect their newborn (the ape who would become Caesar), Cornelius and Zira find refuge with Armando, a sideshow circus entertainer played by the extravagant Ricardo Montalban who gladly welcomes the simian family with open arms, but it isn't long before Dr. Hasslein picks up the fugitives' trail and hunts them down in a tragic and inevitable climax that sets up the paradox of the entire Planet of the Apes chronology."
R. Penola | NYC, NY United States | 12/17/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Even if you are not an APES series fan, this movie grows on you. It is easily the most intentionally comic of the series, and features a cleverly plotted mix of real drama and sci-fi, and placing the action in then-present day Los Angeles gives it a peculiar point of view, one that succeeds almost brilliantly. Kim Hunter and Roddy McDowall inhabit their roles so completely that you believe utterly that they are apes, and that their peril is real. Since I love the twists in a movie that give it gravity and an enduring quality, I love the strange sense of doom and tragedy that pervades this movie, even when it is at its most humorous. The final moments remain chillingly effective, and paved the way for the many, many copycat plots featured in movies yet to come. Forget BENEATH... -- go directly to this movie; you will not be disappointed."
R. Penola | 12/30/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"A pretty good PLANET OF THE APES sequel. The third best in the series. It has no suspense like the first two APES movies do. Not much action but the drama was good."
Lcwx2@aol.com Jon | Glenview, Illinois | 07/15/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is the obvious choice for best sequel because of the brilliant plot. It does get a little cheesy (the ape's flourescent-orange blood, the caged gorilla in the zoo, "because I loathe bannana's!", etc.), but what it lacks in visual taste, it more than makes-up-for in acting and plot. Sal Mineo is excellent in his last film. The substance from the first installment is not lost in this sequel. P.S. Seeing the apes in astronaut gear is kinda funny."
"I LOVE the Planet of the Apes movies, but this one was poor indeed. It was far too friendly of a movie, they made it with children in mind, and not the real fans. I wished for this movie to end soon after it began, it brings shame to this great series... but what can you expect once they got rid of Heston? I would recommend this movie to people who want to see the entire series... but that's all. Definitely the worst of the saga."