Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)

Genres - Science Fiction, Adventure, Action  |   Sub-Genres - Sci-Fi Action  |   Release Date - Jun 15, 1973 (USA)  |   Run Time - 96 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - G
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Review by Brian J. Dillard

The not-so-secret truth about the Planet of the Apes series is that even its best entries (that would be the first and third films) are nothing more than pleasantly shlocky B-pictures -- populist entertainment whose strained allegories never approach the visual and intellectual power of the best science fiction. As for this fifth installment, well, the kindest thing that can be said is that it set expectations low for the eventual television incarnations and big-budget remake. Roddy McDowall, a martyr for the franchise, runs around various countryside encampments, nuclear fallout zones, and poorly shot battlegrounds in service of a story that recycles the worst aspects of the series' second and fourth entries: mutants, gorilla generals, and deadly self-seriousness. Second-time director J. Lee Thompson, clearly a glutton for punishment, had to suffer through all sorts of budget cuts and studio interference. Still, at least he got to enjoy a day of shooting John Huston, whose enjoyably hammy cameo is the movie's sole virtue.