The Geekiverse Ranks The Planet of the Apes

This week, the conclusion of the reimagined Planet of the Apes trilogy arrives in theaters in what critics are already calling “The best movie of the summer” (Access Hollywood). And while this particular series began only in 2011, this franchise has been around since the 1960s, consisting of books, TV shows, comics, and, of course, films.

While some films were far more successful than others, many of us here at the Geekiverse feel as if there really isn’t a bad Ape film (yes… even including the Tim Burton edition with Mark Wahlberg). So sit back and relax as Jeff Pawlak and Amanda go through each of the franchise’s films to rank which ones fell by the wayside and which ones rose to the top to be the best of the best. Warning: some minor spoilers to the franchise lie ahead!

Planet of the Apes
1968


The very first film generally means it’s one of the better ones, if not the best. Rod Serling of Twilight Zone fame penned the Planet of the Apes script, and mega star Charlton Heston (you know: Moses) starred as astronaut George Taylor who travels to a strange planet inhabited by bipedal, speaking apes who dominate over mute and primitive humans. Along the way, Taylor meets sympathetic chimpanzees, Zira and Cornelius (who may or may not have been Amanda’s childhood crush). The ending is one of the greatest cinematic twists that leave viewers dumbfounded and ready for more.

Jeff’s Rank: 1
Amanda’s Rank: 1

 

Beneath the Planet of the Apes
1970

In the sequel, titled Beneath The Planet of the Apes, an astronaut named Brent follows in Taylor’s footsteps and arrives on the strange planet run by apes. After running into Zira and Cornelius, Brent finds Taylor who has been held prisoner by a group of subterranean mutant humans who worship a nuclear missile (no… we’re not kidding). Despite a somewhat definitive ending, Fox demanded more sequels and more sequels we got!

Jeff’s Rank: 8
Amanda’s Rank: 8

 

Escape from the Planet of the Apes
1971

After the very final ending of Beneath the Planet of the Apes, writers needed to go in a completely different direction in order to keep the franchise going so they decided to send our favorite chimpanzees, Cornelius and Zira, to contemporary America. There, they are generally accepted by the public but the fear that their child will lead to the downfall of man leads to a bit of conflict. Escape from the Planet of the Apes.

Jeff’s Rank: 4 
Amanda’s Rank: 5

 

Conquest of the Planet of the Apes
1972

Set years after Escape, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes now focuses on Zira and Cornelius’s son, Caesar. Humans have enslaved apes and begun to use them as pets in place of cats and dogs that have died out. Caesar rises up and leads a revolution against the humans, leading to the very beginning of a planet of apes.

Jeff’s Rank: 5
Amanda’s Rank: 4

 

Battle for the Planet of the Apes
1973

We follow Caesar as he tries to build a world where apes and humans can coexist. After a war that destroyed most life on the planet, he must deal with attacks from radiation-scarred human mutants (it was the Cold War, after all) and an attempted coup d’etat from among the apes. The problem is, we know The Planet of the Apes happens in the future so it doesn’t look too good for our human friends in Battle for the Planet of the Apes.

Jeff’s Rank: 7
Amanda’s Rank: 6

 

Planet of the Apes
2001

Mark Wahlberg stars as astronaut Leo Davidson in Tim Burton’s reimagining of The Planet of the Apes. Working with chimps in space, Davidson accidentally travels through a wormhole to a planet where apes dominate humans and enslave them. He ends up leading a revolt against the apes… with help from some of the apes (yeah… it’s a confusing one). Writers attempted to make a twist ending equal to that of the original but critics agree: overall, it fell a little flat. Fun fact though: Charlton Heston (Taylor from films one and two!) did appear in this, paying a nice homage to the original.

Jeff’s Rank: 6
Amanda’s Rank: 7

 

Rise of the Planet of the Apes
2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a straight-up reboot that gives a new origin story to The Planet of the Apes, focusing on the rise of Caesar. He receives his unnatural intelligence from a drug created by Will Rodman who raises him as a surrogate son. But when he is left at a primate sanctuary, Caesar uses his wits to start an uprising against his human captors.

Jeff’s Rank: 3
Amanda’s Rank: 3

 

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
2014

Set ten years after Rise, the world is struck by the Simian Flu which makes apes more and more intelligent and begins killing off humans. Caesar is attempting to keep peace as a group of nearby human survivors continue to attack the apes. The tagline for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was “One last chance for peace” as several of the humans were able to connect with Caesar and some of the other apes… but we all know a war is coming so that didn’t work out quite as we had hoped…

Jeff’s Rank: 2 
Amanda’s Rank: 2

Planet of the Apes Legacy Collection on Blu-ray with cool retro art cover.

SUMMARY

Jeff: 
1. The Planet of the Apes (1968)
2. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)
3. Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
4. Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971)
5. Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)
6. The Planet of the Apes (2001)
7. Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)
8. Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)

Amanda: 
1. The Planet of the Apes (1968)
2. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)
3. Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
4. Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)
5. Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971)
6. Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)
7. The Planet of the Apes (2001)
8. Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)

Be sure to check out the final installment of the newest reboot when it hits theaters! War for the Planet of the Apes comes out Friday, July 14th (unless, of course, you’re Amanda and you bought tickets to the eight hour marathon this Wednesday).

How would you rank the Planet of the Apes films? How does your list compare with ours? Would you even include the Tim Burton remake? Where do you think War for the Planet of the Apes will fall when it hits theaters this Friday? 

Check out other rankings from The Geekiverse:

The Geekiverse Ranks the Pirates of the Caribbean Films

The Geekiverse Ranks the Marvel Cinematic Universe Movies

 

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About Amanda Woomer-Limpert 64 Articles
A former Disney Cast Member slightly obsessed with cats, beards, Star Wars, and all things Disney!

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