Four astronauts learn what deep space is
And journey to faraway places.
One doubts his own worth
In a message to earth
Before joining the others in stasis.
When Taylor and Landon awake
With Dodge once they crash in a lake,
One’s died in her sleep
And then sinks to the deep,
And the ship they are quick to forsake.
A wasteland is all that awaits
For the three, who are in dire straits.
They journey and climb
For a very long time,
In search of their uncharted fates.
Their trek has brought them to this planet,
Two thousand years since they began it.
The cynical Taylor
Declares mankind’s failure.
It can’t get much worse now, or can it?
They locate a jungle and men,
Who are savage and voiceless, but then,
They’re ambushed and hunted
And chased and confronted
By apes in an overgrown glen.
First Landon is knocked out and caught,
And Dodge is unluckily shot.
They catch Taylor too,
But he cannot speak due
To a neck injury that he got.
He’s caged, but a keen chimpanzee
Named Zira is startled to see
That he’s trying to talk,
But the leaders all balk
When she thinks about setting him free.
She talks to Cornelius, her beau,
Who has theories that few others know
Of man’s contribution
To ape evolution
That leaders refuse him to show.
When Taylor gets out and tries fleeing
To guard, shall we say, his wellbeing,
Every ape simply gawks,
When he’s caught, but he talks!
This generates much disagreeing.
Cornelius and Zira are thrilled.
Dr. Zaius, a chief, wants him killed.
Considered a freak
All because he can speak,
Poor Taylor remains yet strong-willed.
He’s tried to determine his fate,
But it’s quite a one-sided debate.
They all want him slain
Or to cut up his brain,
Like Landon, who’s now a blank slate.
Cornelius and Zira as well
Are threatened and so they rebel.
Helping Taylor escape
From this land that’s gone ape,
They all flee to where no one can dwell.
But Zaius and soldiers give chase
To an ancient prohibited place.
Cornelius tries telling
His theories compelling,
But Zaius wants all proof erased.
While Taylor’s allies don’t defect,
He leaves with his girlfriend unchecked.
He learns on a dime
This was Earth the whole time:
There’s the Statue of Liberty, wrecked!

Planet of the Apes is a classic of the sci-fi genre and features one of Charlton Heston’s many iconic roles. I haven’t given much attention to the recent remakes because, while they can hype the story up with more impressive special effects, they probably can’t capture the classic moments and themes like the original. The ending is now one of those unsurprising surprises, but still carries much of the weight it did when the film was first released in 1968. Though certainly not up to today’s standards, the simian make-up is still impressive for the time, and the film is strengthened by some unique camera angles, a fitting score, and some thought-provoking concepts. Rod Serling’s involvement as a writer is actually quite obvious, since it plays like an extended episode of The Twilight Zone, complete with the shocker climax.

All that being said, it is weak in other areas. Many sequences run on too long, from the three survivors journeying through the desert to the drawn-out chase scene when Taylor tries to escape. I also don’t really care for the screenplay obviously comparing the dogmatic orangutans to fundamentalist Christians during the reimagined “Monkey Trial.” Also, for all its uniqueness, I find the core notion similar to a portion of Gulliver’s Travels, in which Gulliver arrives on an island of intelligent horses who look down upon savage humans called Yahoos. Even so, Planet of the Apes offers an interesting juxtaposition of man and animal that still manages to be engaging and provocative decades after its initial release.

Best line (and a famous one): (Taylor) “Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!”

Artistry: 7
Characters/Actors: 6
Entertainment: 5
Visual Effects: 4
Originality: 7
Watchability: 5
Other (long, somewhat boring parts): -4
TOTAL: 30 out of 60

Tomorrow: #317: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

© 2014 S. G. Liput