Notable Cast: Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans, Linda Harrison
From the time I was a little boy, the original Planet of the Apes always fascinated me. It was a combination of big concept entertainment, cheese, and it had great special effects. I mean apes with guns who rode horses? How cool was that?! As time has gone on though, the depth of this film and the impeccable commentary that was buried in the entertainment and often-cheesy performance from Charlton Heston has wormed its way to the surface of my understanding. Planet of the Apes is the kind of film I enjoy now just as much as I did as when I was a kid, but now for different reasons.
A long journey into the depths of space has left a small group of astronauts thousands of years into the future. Lead by their rough edged captain Taylor (Heston) their ship crashes onto a planet where the air is breathable, but survival seems rough. Particularly when they find out that humans on this planet are treated like animals by the more intelligent and developed species…apes.
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This, of course, is not the entire release why Planet of the Apes is so successful. Despite some of the cheesy elements of the film, it carries a significant amount of charm. It’s not a wholly action packed film (this was a day and age when science fiction was it’s own genre and not a subgenre of action films like it is now), but the film moves at a thrilling pace blending some chase sequences into the heavy concept. While I’m not fully convinced of Heston’s acting chops here, the writing does specifically keep his character’s past decently vague, the supporting cast is phenomenal. Especially those required to act through an ape mask like the awesome work of Kim Hunter and Roddy McDowall as our human loving chimps. To be honest, all of it works in fantastical conjunction.