Planet of the Apes

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Planet of the Apes has gone from its Sci-Fi roots to a calculated action film, but what makes this franchise so special for it to last six decades?

The original five Planet of the Apes films released from 1968 through to 1973 follow a steep decline for such a well established franchise. The first film managed to bring in $32m worldwide and was critically acclaimed for its new and shocking premise, as well as an interesting plot based around the devolution of the human race. Beneath was the second instalment and brought in a more moderate $19m, despite the huge success of the original. After the third film’s $12m, the takings start to level out with the fourth generating $9m and the fifth taking $8.8m.

The Tim Burton remake in 2001 is a sore thumb amongst hairy fingers as it’s the only remake and presents a modern version of the original. It didn’t shatter any new ground on its release, but it was the largest grossing film of the series (pre-Dawn) with an impressive $180m income. That shows just how powerful both the franchise name and Burton were at the time.

2011 saw the start of a new era for the franchise with a reboot that could have easily been inserted into the middle of the original five, but brings a completely new outlook to the franchise: a virus that causes the apes to increase in intelligence. Despite being the best film of the franchise, Rise actually generated less than the Burton film; this could be attributed to the lack of marketing or awareness on its release. In contrast to that, Dawn was released as one of the biggest blockbusters of summer 2014 and has corrected the last film’s awareness issues with campaign after campaign to build excitement.

Even though the original five films stories lead on from each other, the link between each feels a little a farfetched. Using time travel, the franchise risks doing and going anywhere and almost creates a new story. Unfortunately, only a few of the films are as good as expected for such a well known franchise, but if the overall story arc and vision of these films could receive a separate rating then they’d get a ten.

A main theme throughout the franchise is highlighting the morality surrounding humans and the devolved/evolved apes and how both like to think they’re more civilised. The apes are more consistently shown to be better and wiser than humans and, going by the data we’ve gathered, they might be on to something; throughout we see 159 kills by humans and only a comparatively small 79 kills by the apes. However, interestingly the two films that focus more on the rule ‘ape must not kill ape’ (Conquest and Dawn) actually have the most kills by apes, with the latest film having 12 cases of apes killing apes. Maybe they’re not so perfect after all.

Here’s an interesting theory: with a slight rejig of the storyline, the seventh film (Rise) could potentially fit in just after the third film and replace the fourth and fifth, while Caesar is tested on during drugs trials and becomes an intelligent ape rather than just developing naturally. With all films now reviewed and available, it might be worth considering this new film order due to how uninteresting the fourth and fifth films were.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a fantastic addition to the franchise and as it stands the ninth instalment is due to be released around July 2016. Dawn left an extremely open ending to continue from and it’ll be interesting to see how it continues directly, rather than the ten-year story gap between Rise and Dawn. Either way, we’re ridiculously excited for 2016 and have high expectations for this strong and long running franchise.

What we learnt from...

Planet of the Apes

Never tease an ape
Slavery is so wrong
Humans can devolve
When an ape shouts, "Nooooo!" you just listen.
Don't call an animal Caesar and not expect great things
Humans will be their own downfall
Never trust evil looking allies. Duh.
Don't call an ape a monkey
Apes will learn to talk if you raise them like humans
Gorillas are the least friendly of the primates
Don't say "no" to an ape
Dogs will soon die out, so humans will resort to having ape butlers