It's Planet of the Apes once again! Or, well, for the first time. Forever. With a twist. This time starring Charlton Heston - who just so happens to also have played the Omega Man I watched last week. Seems like he was in all sorts of dystopian movies during this time period. The blond American bad-ass of the seventies. He actually makes a cameo in the 2001 reboot as well.
Though this movie is old, it's not bad, and it's a bit different from both of the newer interpretations not only in the lack of digital effects, but in story, and more importantly: message. The seventies were full of political conflicts, wars, and questions that this movie brings up in a sometimes light-hearted, but also very serious way. Seeing as this also started a whole series of movies that came out one after the other in the years that followed it, it might've been the most successful adaption as well.
The apes aren't all that 'apey' in the way they act, but since they're the new humans maybe that's not so odd. The costumes look unexpectedly authentic, even if it's clear they are costumes. Certain aesthetics may be outdated, but if you can live into the realm of the movie and experience it within the confines of when it was filmed you'll get much more out of it, and it gets better.
After an initial not-so-realistic window of space and futuristic spaceship interior, the rest of the movie is much more down-to-Earth. It takes place in a jungle, a desolate desert landscape by a refreshingly clear ocean, and then the Ape village. It really is more like a village than an entire civilization, so the scale of things doesn't always come across right. Taylor (that's Charlton) and two other astronauts crash their ship on this strange planet after two thousand years of hibernation, and soon discover the monkeys there can talk - and the humans can't.
They get captured, but make some primate friends and escape, and start their grand adventure unraveling the truths of this new place they've landed on. Though it takes place in a distant time it's all relatable, and the twist on apes and humans having reversed roles is brought out in full. Charlton makes a great main character, and Kim Hunter and Roddy McDowall as the friendly apes no less.
It's a movie that manages to both keep things humorous, and serious, and offers plenty of symbolism alongside the very easy-to-follow sci-fi plot. If you thought the new movies were a bit dark, then this should be your pick, even if it's far from all sun and roses.
rated 3/5: not bad
Couldn't decide on the cover image for this one btw, so I made two.