A Timeline and Exploration of the Original ‘Planet of the Apes’ Franchise

I revisited the original Planet of the Apes films recently and when I say original I mean I didn’t include Tim Burton’s 2001 remake. I’ve seen that film once in my life and that was enough and it didn’t really suit my intentions. However, the original five films are awfully entertaining as well as thought-provoking. Themes of slavery, power, nuclear war, ignorance, intolerance and so on are peppered throughout all five films, five films that are also incredibly dark in nature.

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Now Fox has revived the franchise with Rise of the Planet of the Apes marking the first film in the franchise to not use men in rubber ape suits, but instead employing the talents of the folks at WETA Digital (Avatar) to use performance capture to create all-digital photo-realistic apes.

Bad film or not, the makeup effects in Burton’s 2001 remake were spectacular, and Tim Roth as Thade was excellent, but the story was a mess, leading to an atrocious conclusion. Rise of the Planet of the Apes proved to be a much different scenario and who knows, maybe in 38 years people will be looking back at this new series the same way I am the original late ’60s and early ’70s predecessors.

Before we get started, if you’re wondering how Rise of the Planet of the Apes may or may not fit in with the original five films, it is something of a remake of Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, the second best film in the original Apes franchise, which features Roddy McDowell as Caesar, a chimpanzee who leads a revolt against mankind as his brethren are being treated as pets and slaves.

The difference, however, between Conquest and Rise of the Planet of the Apes is the origin of the simian revolution. The original franchise, as a matter of fact, has two origin stories and Rise of the Planet of the Apes presents something of a third with genetic engineering leading to the development of intelligence in apes rather than evolution or time traveling chimps from the future. The new film certainly pays homage to the films of the past and includes several references to events seen in previous films, the characters and the actors. Perhaps you’ll spot a few as I breakdown the story of the past and see what clues it may hold.

What follows is a quick look at the timeline as presented in the five films that make up the original Planet of the Apes franchise: Planet of the Apes (1968), Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970), Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971), Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972) and Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973). Not all details are covered, but I believe it presents a clear picture of the overall story.


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