Beneath the Planet of the Apes
Reviewed by Brian Moore
Rating: 3 Beans
ey, remember that great sequel to "Planet of the Apes"? No? That's probably because there
wasn't one. There were, however, four that really, really sucked. And the one that is undeniably the closest chronologically to the original was "Beneath the Planet of the Apes". Believe me, you'd have to dig really far to get "beneath" the original. Kudos to the producers on a job, well, done.
For those who haven't blocked out the plot of the original film, recall that NASA sent a colonization team into deep space, headed by the mentally unstable Col. Taylor (the always ham-rific Charlton Heston). By the end of Film I, Taylor had discovered that the PotA was really the Earth two thousand years in the future, which in a typical waste of tax dollars has been nuked until the terrain surrounding New York City has an appearance much like that of the Western United States. This post-Apocalyptic mild desert landscape is now largely populated and ruled by gun-totin' talking apes -- again, much like that of the Western United States. But hey, with a gun, a horse, and a mute child-bride, Taylor rode off happily into the sunset, momentarily distracted by the sight of the Statue of Liberty buried tit-deep in the sand. Take that, huddled masses yearning to breathe free!
Meanwhile back on good-old 20th century Earth, NASA is inexplicably disturbed by the loss of its worst astro-colonists since those in the Jerry Lewis classic "Way, Way Out". So they cram another four bodies into a space capsule and do exactly the same thing as before, guaranteeing a good celestial body count for the next Senate hearing. You've got to hand it to them, though -- sure, NASA can't get to Mars to save their lives, but they can send two successive spacecraft to a OK, so John Brent (Franciscus) and his three Soon-To-Be-Dead
compatriots arrive on PotA. While they meander in the desert we are privy to the political divisions among Ape City, with the gorillas and chimpanzees discussing the issue of the humans in the Forbidden Zone. The chimps' position would make PETA proud, whereas the gorillas are so hawkish that if they were on Earth today Dian Fossey would not only still be alive but would be Empress of Rwanda.
Back to the "action". Stupid astronauts get
captured. The "Soon-To-Be-Dead" drop the "Soon-To-Be-", and we get more of the same chimp/human pacifist hippie crap from Film I. Brent meets up with Nova, while Taylor has apparently gone spelunking in the Forbidden Zone, the highly-radioactive remnants of New York City. In true dumbass fashion, Brent follows him and discovers a population of nuke-scarred and telepathic humans. Their society is based on dressing in petroleum-based clothing and worshipping a nuclear missile (presumably left over from
the many ICBMs the U.S. deployed under Greenwich Village). In fact, it's capable of destroying the whole planet due to the Greek letters on its tail fins and the requirement of the "shocking conclusion". Charlton Heston shows up to collect his check, a bunch of crap happens, and the gorillas invade. A wounded Heston then foreshadows his NRA stance and sets off the nuke. Didn't see that coming.
So what's the lesson? If your belligerent nation is locked in a fierce ideological combat with another belligerent nation, make sure that you leave a Doomsday Device in reserve so that your polyester-clad psionically-endowed descendants can keep at bay any future primate socio-political structures. And leave behind a working spaceship for the chimpanzees, or else you can't churn out another sequel. But I'm getting ahead of myself...
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