Planet of the Apes was one of the most successful movies of its time, so naturally, they were very quick to pump out a sequel. Beneath the Planet of the Apes picks up shortly after the first movie, with another US spaceship landing on the planet after being sent to find Taylor and his crew. The only surviving astronaut of this ship, a man called Brent, is pretty much a carbon copy of Taylor from the first one, but significantly less developed. He’s basically just there to guide us through the story, and isn’t very interesting himself. The first half of the movie basically plays out the same beats as the original, with him meeting the Apes, being captured and put in a cage, and then escaping and discovering he’s been on earth all along. Where the movie gets interesting is in the last forty minutes or so, when we discover a whole race of super intelligent humans living underground. They worship an unexploded nuclear warhead and the radiation has given them all wicked mind powers. What I like about this is that it adds another dimension to the established world from the first movie. They introduce a new threat to the characters and environment, which is exactly what a good sequel should do. I’m kind of disappointed that these underground mutants aren’t references at all in any of the new movies. You wanna wow me with the third entry in the Andy Serkis franchise, have him go up against these guys. Anyway, the movie ends with Dr. Zaius leading an army of gorillas (who’s numbers seem to be greater than the population of the Ape community from the first movie, but whatever) in an assault against the telepathic mutants, which culminates in Charlton Heston briefly reappearing just to activate the nuclear bomb and destroy the entire planet. I kinda like this ending. It’s satisfying to see Charlton Heston’s character Taylor finally get some peace after all he’s been through, and having the planet destroyed by humans is fitting with the end of the first movie. It’s a nice way to put to rest both the franchise and the main character. (Or it would be, if they hadn’t figured out a way to make three more sequels after literally the entire planet explodes) Ultimately, Beneath the Planet of the Apes is a much campier, more action oriented movie, and lacks all of the tone and weight of the original. But it’s also pretty fucking cool.
Overall Rating: Nuclear/10