ESCAPE FROM THE PLANET OF THE APES
Escape from the Planet of the Apes does need to swing some improbabilities and a few continuity cheats in order to swing its concept namely that the apes from a technologically primitive society can manage get a spaceship working, moreover one that had been left drowned at the bottom of a lake at the start of the first film. Furthermore, the first film had the apes ignorant of Earths history and the fact that humanity was once a talking species, yet this film has them citing the history of the talking ape rebellion from sacred texts. That aside, Paul Dehn swings a wonderfully inventive and literate time travel story. Indeed, Escape from the Planet of the Apes is the best of all the sequels. The time paradox twist ending that finishes the film and sets the groundwork for the rest of the series is an extremely clever touch.
Escape from the Planet of the Apes makes much more use of humour the other entries do. The premise is an inversion of the first film where Planet of the Apes had a society of talking apes reeling in shock at one talking human, this has contemporary society reeling at the idea of two talking apes. Both films chart similar plot lines the protagonists placed in zoos where there abilities are discovered by a couple who are sympathetic and interested animal scientists, their existence proving a threat to a scientific ruling elite who want their existence terminated. The film is carried by the wonderfully perky, chirrupy performances from Roddy McDowall and Kim Hunter, reprising their roles from the previous two films. The sense of humour at play whenever they appear together on screen is delightful.
Certainly, they triumph much more so than the relatively wooden human leads Bradford Dillman and Natalie Trundy. (Trundy was producer Arthur P. Jacobs wife, who in fact played as many different roles as Roddy McDowall did throughout the series, this being her most substantial part and only one where she is cast as a human). Eric Braeden is also good as Hasslein. Don Taylor, a tv director who made a number of genre films in the 1970s The Island of Dr Moreau (1977), Damien: Omen II (1978) and The Final Countdown (1980) does a relatively pedestrian job.
The other Planet of the Apes films are: Planet of the Apes (1968), Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970), Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972) and Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973). All but the last and worthwhile. The series was subsequently spun off into a tv series Planet of the Apes (1974), which only lasted one season and had some okay episodes. This was followed by an animated series Return to the Planet of the Apes (1975). Planet of the Apes (2001) was a remake and was followed by the prequels Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) and War of the Planet of the Apes (2017). Behind the Planet of the Apes (1998) is a documentary about the making of the series.