MORD39 RATING: *** out of ****
This third APES film ingeniously manages to keep the franchise alive and produces what is arguably the second best film of the five originals.
After the ultimate ending in BENEATH, who could have believed a new story was possible? Here the tables are turned from the original film with a remarkable twist: now three of our chimpanzee characters take off in Charlton Heston's spaceship and wind up going BACK in time, to "present Day" Earth (1973 A.D.) Once it is learned that Zira (Kim Hunter in her best performance in the series) is pregnant with the child that could possibly turn our future into the PLANET OF THE APES, she and her husband Cornelius (Roddy McDowall) go from becoming honored celebrities to dangerous threats to humanity!
It's a brilliant idea, and now it is possible to start the series anew (chronologically, this movie comes first) and see whether or not Taylor's nightmare from the first film can be prevented or will rear its ugly head for mankind.
A little defending is in order here. Many people get hung up on the story's notion that the chimpanzees can actually manage to fix Taylor's ship from the first film and actually launch it. Well, I say that if you can suspend disbelief long enough to accept the idea of a society of talking apes, why can't you accept that one of them (Dr. Milo) is a super-intelligent ape, sort of the "Albert Einstein" or "Thomas Edison" of his time? Besides, when folks get stuck on a point like that it becomes impossible for them to have a good time with a film. As Cornelius said in the movie: "Dr. Milo was a genius well in advance of his time." He was able to fly the ship. Case Closed.
Next case: the "TV Movie" look of the film. SO WHAT? People have become so accustomed to garbage like 1999's THE MUMMY that unless all films are over-swamped with spectacular sets and numbing effects, they can't enjoy them. Well, ESCAPE needs none of these to tell its simple story. It's got something that sci-fi stories today have lost..."heart".
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