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Escape From The Planet Of The Apes (1971)
Movie Review by The Mortician

Escape From The Planet Of The Apes (1971) How to continue a franchise that nuked the world at the end of the previous installment, what a dilemma the producers and writers had! Well, when 20th Century Fox ordered up a third entry in the franchise, the writer came up with a rather clever solution. Since the series had already dealt with time travel [with astronauts coming into the future APE society], why not send a few APES back into Earth's past, saying they launched off right before Charlton Heston nuked the planet at the end of BENEATH? So we have a trio of good, friendly apes, including Zira and Cornelius [played by Kim Hunter and Roddy McDowell, respectively] going back in time and landing in those swingin' early 70's! Jerry Goldsmith's music score is pitch perfect, meshing the electric guitar swagger of the time with his previous APES percussion-highlighted masterpiece. Imagine man's reaction when intelligent, speaking apes crash-land into the ocean in a rocket previously manned by Heston! Of course they are captured, studied, and eventually become a media sensation with the President of the U.S. and his crooked cronies. Things don't go well for our Ape friends, though. One of them is killed [played by Sal Mineo!] early on by a guy in a guerrilla suit that looks like he escaped from the set of GILLIGAN'S ISLAND, and when Zira has wine and mentions that man eventually wipes himself out with nukes and Apes evolve as the new ruling species...well, that doesn't bode well for our heroes. Especially when Zira finds out she's pregnant and everyone realizes [in that time travel narrative] that her unborn son will be the one to lead the revolt to overthrow the human race! Part tongue-in-cheek parody of the original film, part social commentary, and part action-chase movie, ESCAPE unbelievably works, and works well! The drama at the end always brings a tear to my eye and gives me little hope for mankind, highlighting our selfish and murderous attitudes---also putting us on the Apes side more than ever as they become the true heroes this time around! A very curious and entertaining movie that still works today, although some of it is on the silly side early on.

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