Roddy McDowall, Don Murray, Ricardo Montalban, Natalie Trundy, Hari Rhodes, Severn Darden,
Lou Wagner, John Randolph
1972, 87 Minutes, Directed by: J. Lee Thompson
Description:Roddy McDowall returns in
the fourth Planet of the Apes film as Caesar, the son of Cornelius, leading
an ape revolution that bridges the historical gap of the previous films.
At the end of Escape from the Planet of
the Apes we saw the offspring of the two time-traveling apes safely hidden from
hostile authorities at a zoo run by the character played by Ricardo Montalban (perhaps
best known as his portrayal as Khan in Star Trek II The Wrath
of Khan). We also had a pretty good idea what would happen afterwards: the ape
offspring will lead a rebellion of apes in which they will gain the upper
hand and become
the dominant species on Earth.
Predictably the fourth movie in the series, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes,
merely fills in the minor details of what we know will happen, which makes the movie a
rather superfluous experience. Someone once called the original Planet of the Apes film a
"hysterical race parable", but this description suits Conquest better
than any of the other movies.
After a plague brought from an astronaut from outer space
has wiped out all the cats and dogs on Earth, humanity started domesticating apes for
household pets. Realizing how smart they are, the apes are soon turned into slaves to
perform menial tasks such as waitering and mopping up the floors with black leather-clad
Gestapo types (like in The Empire Strikes Back and Barbwire later on) to watch over them.
The only person who happens to be sympathetic to the
plight of the apes also happens to be the only Black character in the movie,
who actually says something to the effect of "as the descendent of
emancipated slaves" at some point in the movie. This much obviousness doesnt help Conquest at all. Nor that it is a
largely humorless affair (the best entries in the series thus far - the 1968 original and
the 1971 Escape from the Planet of the Apes both displayed unexpected
that pretty much saved them). In the end we are merely going round and round as the Apes
series becomes the serpent devouring its own tail.
Conquest isnt bad (a good performance by Roddy McDowall, who starred in
all the Apes films except for the second Beneath the Planet
of the Apes entry and plays his own son in this film helps), but it isnt really good either . . .
(Conquest of the Planet of the Apes was followed by one last big screen sequel,
namely Battle for the Planet of the Apes in 1973. Then
there are the two television series - one of them animated.)