Battle for the Planet of the Apes is a 1973 American science fiction film directed by J. Lee Thompson. It is the fifth and final installment in the original Planet of the Apes series, produced by Arthur P. Jacobs, following Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. It stars Roddy McDowall, Claude Akins, Natalie Trundy, Severn Darden, Lew Ayres, Paul Williams, and John Huston.
|Battle for the Planet of the Apes|
|Directed by||J. Lee Thompson|
|Screenplay by||John William Corrington|
Joyce Hooper Corrington
|Story by||Paul Dehn|
|Based on||characters created|
by Pierre Boulle
|Produced by||Arthur P. Jacobs|
|Cinematography||Richard H. Kline|
|Edited by||Alan L. Jaggs|
John C. Horger
|Music by||Leonard Rosenman|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$8.8 million|
The second and third films in the 2010s reboot series, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) and War for the Planet of the Apes (2017), have a similar premise to Battle, but they are not officially remakes.
Told as a flashback to the early 21st century, with a wraparound sequence narrated by the orangutan Lawgiver in "North America – 2670 A.D.", this sequel follows the chimpanzee Caesar years after a global nuclear war has destroyed human civilization. Living with his wife, Lisa and their son, Cornelius, Caesar creates a new society while trying to cultivate peace between the apes and remaining humans. Caesar is opposed by an aggressive gorilla general named Aldo, who wants to imprison the humans who freely roam Ape City while doing menial labor.
After defusing followers of Aldo who attacked a human teacher Abe for saying "No" to apes, Caesar ponders if his own parents could have taught him how to make things better. MacDonald, Caesar's human assistant and the younger brother of MacDonald (from Conquest of the Planet of the Apes) reveals to Caesar that his brother told him of archived footage of Cornelius and Zira within the underground, now radioactive ruins of what is known as the Forbidden City from the last film. Caesar travels with MacDonald and his orangutan advisor Virgil to the Forbidden City to find the archives.
It is revealed that mutated and radiation-scarred humans are living within the city, under the command of Governor Kolp, the man who once captured Caesar. Caesar and his party view the recordings of his parents, learning about the future and Earth's eventual destruction before they are forced to flee when Kolp's soldiers hunt them. Fearing the mutant humans may attack Ape City, Caesar reports his discoveries. When Caesar calls MacDonald and a select group of humans to the meeting, Aldo leads the gorillas away.
Kolp's scouts find Ape City. Believing Caesar is planning to finish off all mutant humans, Kolp declares war on Ape City despite his assistant Méndez's attempt to get him to see reason. Aldo plots a coup d'état in order for the gorillas to take control. Cornelius overhears from a nearby tree, but is critically wounded when Aldo spots him and hacks off the tree branch he is on with his sword. The next day, after a gorilla scouting pair are attacked by Kolp's men, Aldo takes advantage of a grieving Caesar's absence to have all humans corralled while looting the armory. Cornelius eventually dies from his wounds, leaving a devastated Caesar with the revelation that Cornelius was not hurt by humans.
When Kolp's ragtag force launches their attack, Caesar orders the defenders to fall back. Finding Caesar lying among dozens of fallen apes, Kolp expresses his intention to personally kill him. The apes, however, are merely feigning death and launch a counterattack that captures most of the mutant humans. Kolp and his remaining forces try to escape, only to be slaughtered by Aldo's troops once they are out in the open.
Aldo confronts Caesar about releasing the corralled local humans and orders the gorillas to kill them. When Caesar shields the humans and Aldo threatens him, Virgil, having learned the truth from MacDonald, reveals Aldo's role in Cornelius's death. Enraged with Aldo for breaking their most sacred law, "ape shall never kill ape", Caesar pursues him up a large tree, their confrontation resulting in Aldo falling to his death.
With Caesar realizing that apes are no different than their former human slaveowners, he agrees to MacDonald's request for humans to be treated as equals, co-existing in a new society. They store their guns in the armory; Caesar and Virgil reluctantly explain to the armory's overseer, an orangutan named Mandemas, that they will still need their weapons for future conflicts and can only wait for the day when they will no longer need them.
The scene returns to the Lawgiver, saying it has now been over 600 years since Caesar's death. His audience is revealed to be a group of young humans and apes, the Lawgiver noting that their society still waits for a day when their world will no longer need weapons, while they "wait with hope". A closeup of a statue of Caesar shows a single tear falling from one eye.
Initially, writer Paul Dehn, who had provided the script for every previous sequel, was hired to provide a story treatment for the fifth film in the series. Dehn withdrew from the project prior to completing the screenplay due to health reasons. Screenwriters John William Corrington and Joyce Hooper Corrington were brought in after the success of their film The Omega Man, although prior to that, neither one of them had written any science fiction films. Joyce Carrington later admitted they had never seen any of the Apes films prior to being hired to write the script for Battle. Dehn was unavailable for the initial rewrites, but was hired to come in and do a final polish on the script. Dehn was given a story credit despite an appeal to the Writer's Guild of America for shared credit on the screenplay. Dehn claimed to have rewritten 90% of the dialogue and he altered the ending. The original script by the Corringtons ended on a playground with ape and human children fighting. Dehn chose to go with a close up of a statue of Caesar with a tear falling from its eye which Joyce Corrington characterized as "...stupid. It turned our stomachs when we saw it." The Writer's Guild of America ruled in favor of the Corringtons for sole screenplay credit.
Principal photography took place on the Fox Movie Ranch for an estimated budget of $1.7 million. Heading into filming, director J. Lee Thompson was unhappy with both the script and the scope of the production, which he felt could have used a bigger budget to assist in the portrayal of Battle. Thompson had agreed to direct without a script in place and regretted that Paul Dehn could not have been on the project throughout the writing process.
The syndicated television version adds a few scenes cut from the theatrical release. One scene takes place after Aldo chases teacher Abe, where MacDonald reminds him why humans should not say "no" to an ape.
Another scene towards the end of the film shows the beginnings of the House of Mendez cult, as the humans in the city are about to fire off the doomsday bomb (as seen in Beneath the Planet of the Apes), but decide not to, as it would destroy the world. In Beneath, one can see many signs of Mendez in the Forbidden Zone, a hymnal on the pipe organ reading "Mendez II", busts of past leaders of the mutant society (such as Mendez XIV), and the mutant leader in Beneath is also named Mendez. It is clear that Governor Mendez is a different leader than his predecessors, Breck and Kolp, since he is more sympathetic to the apes, as long as they do not invade their territory.
In 2006, the Planet of the Apes movies were re-released separately and in a new box set. This version was earlier released in a Japanese laserdisc boxset. Listed are the additional scenes:
Battle for the Planet of the Apes grossed a domestic total of $8.8 million, making it the lowest-grossing film in the series.
The film received mixed to negative reviews from critics. The film holds a 36% "Rotten" rating on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 28 critical reviews. The critical consensus reads: "Bereft of bright ideas and visually shabby, Battle for the Planet of the Apes takes a celebrated franchise and blows it all up -- the maniacs!" Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film two stars out of four, stating, "Battle looks like the last gasp of a dying series, a movie made simply to wring the dollars out of any remaining ape fans." Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune awarded one star out of four and wrote, "The fifth and last in the successful Apes series is the worst of the lot, a bloody bore." Variety noted, "This is the fifth and last feature film of the 'Apes' series, and the fact shows too obviously in the Arthur P. Jacobs production, which is routine programmer material for fast playoff ... J. Lee Thompson's perfunctory direction both reflects and sets the sluggish tone pervading the 86-minute film." Vincent Canby of The New York Times opined that director J. Lee Thompson "will not win any awards for 'Battle,' but the film's simplicity defuses criticism. The chimpanzee and orangutan make-up remains remarkable, and the lines are occasionally bright and funny. There are far worse ways of wasting time." Tom Shales of The Washington Post wrote that the film "ends it all with more of a thud than a bang—prolonging the concept but, again, failing to extend the idea." Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times wrote in a positive review that although the film "is launched from a more thinly contrived premise than any of its predecessors it becomes just as involving as they were, thanks to the strong appeal of the series' allegorical underpinnings and to the adroit direction of J. Lee Thompson, who stages several spectacular (rather than gory) battle scenes with the same finesse he displays in the film's more intimate moments." David McGillivray wrote that "almost every line of the Corringtons' thin script attests the strain of having to find anything new for the apes to say or do."
In the 2012 film Argo, based on the 1980 "Canadian Caper" rescue from Iran of U.S. diplomats hiding at the Canadian ambassador's residence, Tony Mendez gets the idea for the fictitious Argo cover story from watching Battle for the Planet of the Apes on television. This was a nod to the role of Planet of the Apes make-up artist John Chambers in the Canadian Caper.