Beneath the Planet of the Apes: Revisted
Most sequels are over the top but Beneath the Planet of the Apes goes beneath the top to a world where religious zealots who worship an armed nuclear warhead go head to head with some grumpy gorillas intent on religious war in the name of their beliefs...
If this film wasn't released in 1970 I'd swear it was a commentary on the arms race of the eighties and nuclear politics or even the various American wars in Iraq with a bit of Islamic fundamentalism thrown in for good measure.
Or it could just be another movie about apes thinking they rule the planet.
The premise is that Taylor and Nova, our heroes from the original Planet of the Apes left the apes to go find themselves - instead Taylor found he was on Earth. They travel inwards from the coast and Taylor disappears...
An astronaut, named Brent, is sent on a mission from Earth to find the missing astronaut crew from the first film, and as his bad luck would have it he crashes on the planet of the apes, Earth, where he stumbles upon an underground city where the last humans have hold up in hiding from the dreaded ape army now out to exterminate mankind as man is not so kind to monkeys. He finds Nova and predictably gets caught by the apes. Then he escapes, Yay!
He finds Taylor and they get caught up in the battle between the humans and the apes. Having killed off every major character along the way, with his dying act Taylor sets off the atomic bomb ending the war between the animals and in doing so destroys all life on planet Earth.
Which is great because most movies chicken out and do the miracle rescue ending. Taylor damns them all to hell!
The movie explores themes similar themes to the original but this time focuses more on the use of religious dogma as a reason to go to war. It pits the seemingly cruel human religious zealots who want peace but worship a nuclear weapon versus the supposed morally superior Ape race who derive their faith from interpreting some old scrolls.
The movie has a great scene where the humans celebrate a mass in honour of the atomic bomb. Borrowing heavily from the traditional Catholic mass the movie succeeds in highlighting the absurdity of religion and blind faith in general. At the climax of the mass the humans reveal their true selves to their god and in a great mini surprise they remove their masks to hide some hideously grotesque faces. It's quite a horrific movie moment and for me the highlight of the movie.
So in all not quite as riveting as the first movie but its set pieces where pretty good and with a fairly hectic ending, it gets two thumbs up as a pretty sweet lazy sunday afternoon DVD.