Beneath The Planet Of The Apes (1970)
The sole survivor of an interplanetary rescue mission searches for the only survivor of the previous expedition. He discovers a planet ruled by apes and an underground city run by telepathic humans.
Gonna be a hard task to follow up the first movie.
This movie starts out with a shot of the ocean and the last scene of PotA. From there, the credits roll as we follow up directly with Taylor and Nova's romantic horse ride. There are some nice nature shots again, but this already feels like a lower quality production. Cheaper film stock, maybe?
CUT TO. A crashed ship. IT'S A MAN WHO KIND OF LOOKS LIKE CHARLTON HESTON! It's now 3955. They were following Taylor's trajectory, so whatever happened to him must have happened to them. A S-Curve, perhaps. This man was talking to his captain, who was not in good shape. The next shot has him burying the skipper, so as far as this guy knows, he's the only person on this planet. Glorious tan on this guy. Shade like a graham cracker. Beautiful. He hears horses. Maybe he's not alone. Oh shit, it's Nova! Brent is this guy's name. He's trying to ask where he is. Dumb dumb doesn't know that Nova don't know shit. He does see that she's wearing Taylor's dog tags, which triggers a flash back from...her perspective, I guess. So...the US government decided to send another space ship along Taylor's trajectory 20 years later? To find him? Doesn't that seem a little dangerous? I mean, that ship was never heard from again. Why would you send a manned ship down the same path? The US government is full of assholes.
The flashback shows us that Taylor almost fell into a ring of fire, and then was attacked by a lightning storm. And then the ground opened up and tried to swallow him. And then he disappeared into rocks. Well. It seems this planet really is out to get Taylor. Too bad she couldn't tell any of this to Brent. She lets him ride on the horse and takes him to the city, where a big ape meeting is going down.
General Ursus (who sounds like he's doing a John Wayne impression), is basically just talking about how great dead humans are. The division of the apes is much clearer here: Orangutans are the law/religion apes, gorillas are the police/warriors, and chimps are the scientists and doctors. Ursus wants to take a military crusade to the Forbidden Zone and kill whatever is there and claim it as their own, as it is their, "holy duty". This dude really loves his war.
Brent and Nova take off through the woods. Brent gets shot in the arm and doesn't even make a noise. TMF. The apes are in the sauna, without their clothes, so I think this is a nude scene. Zaius and Ursus are talking about the weird things going on in the Forbidden Zone. Zaius isn't fully behind this military action, but he's going along with it.
Brent and Nova sneak into Zira's house. Zira is now pregnant and her opinion on the gorillas is not very flattering. "Gorillas are cruel because they are stupid. All bone and no brain." That sounds pretty racist. Of course, Zaius stops by during all of this, so the humans have to hide. LOL, Zira claims that Cornelius hit her for her bad behavior at the meeting to throw Zaius off the trail. Amazing. Zaius is going to go with Ursus into the Forbidden Zone, even though he's not into the whole conquest thing. He puts Zira and Cornelius in charge of science stuff while he's gone. "And you shall have it, Dr. Zaius, or I shall hit her again." LOL. Brent gets some fresh rags and they go on their way.
Of course, as soon as they get going, their horse gets shot. They're immediately captured and caged. This all seems familiar. The next day, the apes are doing their military exercises, one of which is doing flying clotheslines to humans on horses. What a rush. Man, these horses are taking a lot of bumps. That can't be good for them.
Nova and Brent are taken away for target practice. Little did the gorillas know that Zira unlocked the paddy wagon, which led to Brent fighting a gorilla on top of the cage, which weirdly had no music or noises from the man or ape. Just sound effects and the noise from the clopping horses. It was super weird. WATCH OUT FOR THAT BRANCH YA FILTHY ANIMAL. Now, the planet seems to hate Taylor (perhaps because he hated it first? Is the planet itself sentient in this universe?), yet appears to be looking out for Brent. No doubt from that golden tan. Brent also appears to be a solid 20 or more years younger than the already old as fuck looking Heston. He didn't look anywhere near "young" in the first, and in the brief amount of screen time he's had in this, he looked to have aged 10 years between films. Fuck, there was a look out in the trees. Apes on horses with guns chasing a man and woman on horses. What a world. It's a god damn mad house is what it is. Nova and Brent end up in the Queensboro Plaza subway to hide. Zira told Brent never to speak. I don't think she meant when he was just with Nova, but he's taking her literally, as he hasn't made a peep since they were at the house. Until now. "God almighty. This used to be my home." Brent was a moleman, you see. He comes to the same conclusion about humans ruining everything as Taylor had.
Chimps are protesting the war. These god damn hippies. So heavy handed with the Vietnam stuff here. But with apes. "Gorilla brutality!" Look at all these peaceful protesters being arrested. Is this Vietnam commentary, or police brutality in 2015 commentary? The police and army are the same thing here, and they're overzealous, violent, and wanting to invade shit just for fun. 2real4me.
Back in the subway, a strange hum guides Brent and Nova to a ladder, which leads to a bunch of tubes, which leads to more destroyed New York land marks. They're basically walking through downtown, which is now underground and in the subway. Or something. DON'T DRINK THAT GREEN, STAGNANT WATER, BRENT. FUCKING DUMB DUMB. Drinking the water makes Brent go crazy and try to drown Nova. Sure. Why not. "Get out! Get out of my head!" Okay. What a weird twist this took. Brent enters a room and finds a person in robes worshiping at the altar of a golden nuclear warhead. He's apparently communicating telepathically with Brent. This is...weird. This is...really stupid. So there is a whole society of bomb worshiping telepathic humans living in the old NYC subway system. Beneath the planet of the apes. Oh shit.
And when they communicate, they make beeping noises. Like a computer from the 70s. What was bland before and a big drop off from the original has now become terrible and stupid. These telepathic humans dressed as dick heads are torturing Brent with their beeps and boops. "The bomb is a holy weapon of peace." You see, these humans use all their powers for peace. All they want to know is if the apes want war or peace. As keepers of the Divine Bomb, they need Brent's help. After being forced to choke and kiss Nova, Brent finally spills the beans that the Apes are marching on the city. As it turns out, all the weird things seen in the Forbidden Zone were illusions created by these humans to keep everyone and everything away.
The army comes across apes tied upside down and burning. Zaius tries to get Ursas to order his men to put them out of their misery, but as the Great Lawgiver said, "ape shall not kill ape". The Lawgiver statue starts bleeding and then the whole illusion blows up and they continue on. God. This movie.
In the subway, these creepy dick humans are singing the ugliest sounding psalms to the bomb. Oh shit, the minister is arming the bomb. WITH CRYSTALS! This shit is ridiculous. And then the humans pull their faces off the reveal they're actually mutants. Of course. They've been living in fallout and next to a nuclear bomb their entire lives. They're also telepathic. I don't think this is a big shock, since that was already revealed. I wonder who made those extremely lifelike and detailed masks.
Brent is caged and guess who's there? TAYLOR! OMG! And then they're mind fucked into fighting. Taylor does a pretty sweet STO, at least. Nova sees the fighting and finally says her first word, "MEN *rolls eyes with hands on hips*". It was actually, "Taylor". But whatever. This breaks the concentration of the mind fucker and they're able to kill him instead of each other.
The apes invade. Nova is shot and killed. Taylor is now ready to blow up the whole world. Fuck everyone and everything. Taylor and Brent are both shot. In his final moment, Taylor sets off the bomb. "In one of the countless billions of galaxies in the universe, lies a medium-sized star, and one of its satellites, a green and insignificant planet, is now dead." The end.
Well god damn. Is there a bleaker ending in movie history? Not only do the only humans you give a shit about get killed in front of you, not only does the entire planet get blown up (for the second time, both at the hands of a human), the narrator also tells you that the planet was insignificant and matter of factly says it is dead with an immediate cut to the credits. I can imagine seeing this in theaters and the feeling of "fuck, I feel like shit now" permeating the room.
This movie is not good. Take everything you liked from the first movie. Now imagine it cheaper, shittier, and more heavy handed. With telepathic bomb worshiping mutant humans. The first movie had a fairly low key (until the end) theme of "don't trust the older generation" running through it. Now, in 1970, that has morphed into full on younger generation protesting a perceived unjust and unnecessary war, complete with picket signs, while screaming about "gorilla brutality" as they are arrested. It's SO on the nose. But then this also has humans that literally worship an atomic bomb. No room for subtly of any kind here. This movie is a half hour shorter than the first movie, yet feels like it is two hours longer. The last half hour of this feels longer than the whole first movie, and is absolute garbage. Whereas the first movie was good because it took itself seriously (and had great cinematography and directing), this movie desperately needed to NOT take itself so seriously. It also needed a better eye, because nothing in this looks anywhere near as good as similar shots in the original. I've read that the budget was half of the original and Fox hired the director specifically so he wouldn't do all the great shots to keep the costs down. It definitely shows. As did the makeup changes. Except for the main talking apes, everyone was wearing ape masks. When you see them next to the makeup, it is jarring in how bad it looks.
If there is something good to say, I like Brent more than Taylor. I've never been a fan of Heston's super over the top at all times acting. Not that Franciscus wasn't hammy at times in this, but he never got close to Heston's natural baseline of ham.