STARRING: Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Bradford Dillman, Natalie Trundy, Eric Braeden, William Windom, Sal Mineo, Ricardo Montalban

1971, 98 Minutes, Directed by: Don Taylor

escapeap.jpg (14561 bytes)Description: The phenomenal success of the 1970 Beneath the Planet of the Apes spawned this sequel in which simian scientists Cornelius and Zira (Roddy McDowall and Kim Hunter, reprising their roles from the first Planet of the Apes movie) travel backward in time, setting the stage for the ape supremacy of the first two films.

Regarded by some as the best of the Planet of the Apes sequels, maybe even on a par with the 1968 Charlton Heston original itself, this third Apes movie breathes fresh air into a series that seems to have reached its definite end after Beneath the Planet of the Apes. Escape from the Planet of the Apes also points the direction into which the rest of the franchise would no doubt move.

As you may recall from the previous entry in the series, it would seem that the series have ground down to a definitive halt after the destruction of the Earth. However, there's no keeping a clever writer down and screenwriter Paul Dehn comes up with a novel solution in which ape characters from the previous films escape said destruction of Earth by accidentally traveling back into time. They do this in the salvaged spaceship which first brought the Heston character to the upside down world where "apes evolved from men".

If you've been following the series closely you'll notice that Dehn's script doesn't sweat continuity with the previous movies too much, but that is no real problem since Escape moves at too brisk a pace for audiences to really pick holes in the plot.

"The best of the Planet of the Apes sequels . . ."

The plot is thus basically an inversion of the original film: this time around intelligent apes have to survive in a world ruled by men. Dehn's script makes maximum use of the possibilities thrown up the concept and Escape offers some delicious satire on our times (even though it's the early 'Seventies, not much have really changed you know).

Escape starts off light-hearted, but takes a serious turn about two-thirds through the movie when a Terminator-like time travel paradox is thrown up which determines the rest of the events in the movie with precision logic. The future in which mankind will come to its downfall and the ascendancy of the apes can be averted by aborting the child of the two apes in the present.

What to do? Will it be right to alter events in this way? Especially if the outcome doesn't seem so clear since man's own stupidity in the form of nuclear war will contribute to their destruction . . . And so forth.

Besides being well written, the acting in Escape of the Planet of the Apes is also very good and the characters very sympathetic and understandable. If you have written off the Apes franchise after the second entry, think again and check this one out . . .

(Escape from the Planet of the Apes was followed by two more big screen sequels, namely Conquest of the Planet of the Apes in 1972 and Battle for the Planet of the Apes in 1973. Then there are the two television series - one of them animated.)


Sci-Fi Movie Page Pick: Best of the Apes sequels! You've overcome your preconceptions of Planet of the Apes being a Buck Rogers-type of late-1960s cheese - and were amazed by it! But which of the sequels to check out? After all, you've heard that they just get worse . . . Well, Escape is pretty good and a must-see even if it means you have to view the below par Beneath the Planet of the Apes to follow the storyline (no, the rest of the Apes movies aren't really recommended to non-devotees . . .)

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