I followed through to watch all of the sequels to the Planet of the Apes. The second sequel achieved some success, with an overall rating of 78% (compare to Planet of the Apes' 89%), yet the other "classic" sequels barely crowned 40% on Rotten Tomatoes. Even the 2001 remake of the original only got 45%. Why did these movies perform so horribly when the original was so great?
My theory is that the feel of the films proceeding the original Planet of the Apes were significantly different. Beneath the Planet of the Apes was the first sequel, and in addition to the hard to believe mutants which in addition to being quite non-complex, starred as some of the main characters, there was no "exploration". The explored areas had already been explored; it feels kind of like a replay of the original movie until the mutants are met, and then it fails to improve.
Escape from the Planet of the Apes did better in theatre, though. Once again, the curtain of belief is restored somewhat, with most of the movie taking place after one deus ex machina, and being realistic at that. Escape explored the reaction to the converse premise to the original movie; apes coming back in time to meet 1970s human society. It all happens with a spirit of exploration similar to that of the original. By recapturing the charm of the original, it acts far more as a true sequel than Beneath.
Conquest of and Battle for the Planet of the Apes, following a bit off of Escape, picked up the trend of ridiculous premises and unremarkability. The beginning of Conquest depicts not only the killing off of specifically, ALL cats and dogs, but the adoption of apes as pets, and then slippery slopes its way into a culture based off of ape slave labor. I believe it was the satirical movie C.S.A, one in which it is supposed that the Confederates won the Civil War as opposed to the North, that made the point that modern-day slavery becomes a burden on economies, carried for the sake of culture. How in the hell would the upkeep of apes become economically viable compared to that of industrial machines? How the hell would the environmentalist movement become lobotomized to the point of allowing such animal abuse? It's ridiculous to the point of ruining the rest of the movie, the basis, and the movie quality once again fails to improve. It's obvious that these last two, at least, give a bad taste to all the sequels, even the good one.
Next blog post, I will be talking about the actual new movie. It's a long journey, the Planet of the Apes movies, but a worthwhile one.