Here is my ranking (from least favourite to most favourite) of the films within the Planet Of The Apes franchise, with a short explanation accompanying each:
(Side note: Not including the TV series)
#8 – Battle for the Planet of the Apes
Feels constrained by budget.
#7 – Beneath the Planet of the Apes
A product of its time (fear of nuclear war) and doesn’t feel like the sequel the original deserved.
#6 – Escape from the Planet of the Apes
An unnecessary sequel but the the ‘fish out of water’ plot is entertaining and to some extent it is thrilling.
#5 – Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Unlike the first sequel to the original, this sequel to the second reboot actually makes sense and is also entertaining – it doesn’t deviate from the world that has already been created and it also successfully draws from some points from the original timeline.
#4 – Conquest of the Planet of the Apes
The best sequel to the original, which not only provides social commentary (which to some extent is unfortunately still relevant) but also goes some way to making sense of the ‘history’ of the world.
#3 – Planet of the Apes (2001)
I may get hate for ranking this so high, but it is an absolute guilty pleasure. It’s epic. It’s what the original and it’s many sequels may have been if they’d had the budget and technology. Tim Burton created a living, breathing, believable world whereby almost everything makes sense. Just ignore how much it deviates from the original (and the ending – WTF) and appreciate how it wasn’t a step by step remake.
It may have totally messed with the original but it was grand and ambitious; just forget the mess of an ending and focus on how Tim Burton created a believable.
#2 – Planet of the Apes (1968)
We may all know about the twist (which thoroughly deserves classic status) but it’s still a great film to watch; from it’s pacing, emotion, dialogue and, to some extent, its simplicity. It isn’t bogged down with alternative timelines and it has to be commended for kicking off the franchise.
#1 – Rise of the Planet of the Apes
So my top spot goes to the second reboot. Why? It takes the essence and basic plot points of the entire original timeline and repackages them into a blockbuster format for modern audiences – the world has changed and so have our fears. It’s no longer radiation that we fear but genetic manipulation and biochemical weapons. The way that we see animals, apes and chimpanzees in particular has also changed, which this reboot is well aware of. We don’t see them so much as lesser as the original did, so the dynamic between ‘us and them’ is markedly different. Though box office and reviews aren’t everything, the fact that it successfully rebooted the franchise has to also be taken into account.
Which leads on to the fact that there will be a third film in the reboot timeline: War for the Planet of the Apes – which may draw inspiration from Battle for the Planet of the Apes!