Escape from Planet of the Apes (1971) Director: Don Taylor
Starring Roddy McDowall (after his absence in the previous Planet of the Apes film), as well as Kim Hunter, Bradford Dillman and Ricardo Montalbán, Escape From The Planet of the Apes is a somewhat engaging adventure that flips the narrative of the first film on its head. It is at once a sequel, prequel, and a reboot of the franchise (bear in mind, this was released prior to when Hollywood became obsessed with endless franchise reboots). Escape From The Planet of the Apes is a sentimental movie, it encourages sympathy for social justice, such as the cause of fighting scientific experimentation on animals, or the cause of avoiding prejudice toward things we do not understand.
Despite the previous film Beneath the Planet of the Apes, which essentially did its best to destroy the future of the franchise by an ending with an unexpected nuclear holocaust, the third installment Escape from the Planet of the Apes suggests that Cornelius and Zira somehow managed to flee Earth moments before its total destruction –apparently they reworked Taylor’s spacecraft and traveled backward in time landing in the 1970s. It is a bit of a farce. At any rate, many of the tropes from the first film are turned on their heads –the apes are now kept in cages by 1970s scientists to be monitored because they can talk. The apes are dealt with suspiciously, and put on trial. Zira becomes pregnant and drinks some alcohol, accidentally revealing the destructive future of humanity, along with the fact that she once dissected a human body in the past/future. Fearing retribution, Zira and Cornelius flee their imprisonment, escaping to a nearby zoo (led by Ricardo Montalbán). They are then hunted down in a tragic scene of gunfire. The twist at the conclusion reveals that Zira’s ape-child was concealed and it actually survives in the zoo –perhaps there is hope for the future of earth after all.
It was good to see Ricardo Montalban make his mark as Armando in this one. Also some other fine additions to the Apes series: Sal Mineo, Eric Braeden, William Windom, Albert Salmi and of course Bradford Dillman. Jason Evers is very chilling as the interrogator who tries to break Zira and calls her a monkey. This was a most pivotally important sequel.
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