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Synopsis: Planet of the Apes

Original film (1968)

A team of astronauts flies into space at near light speed. They are influenced by time dilation: eighteen months for them is over two thousand years for the Earth. They crash onto a mysterious, seemingly desolate planet (losing the sole female on the crew in the process), specifically into a dead lake; this loses them their spacecraft and most of their supplies.

At first, it appears that the planet is completely desolate, but they look for signs of life anyway. They discover that it has life when they see a small plant growing in the desert. They pull it up — go figure. "Where there's one, there must be more!" so, hope renewed, they keep looking. And, indeed, more hardy plants and grasses do appear and become larger and more numerous.

Eventually, they run into a line of "scarecrows" set on the top of a cliff. They climb to investigate, but their leader, Taylor (played by Charlton Heston), sees something much more interesting at the top — life! In abundance! They find fresh water, go skinny dipping, and get their clothes stolen by wild, naked, mute humans, whom they chase after. The mute humans toss aside the remaining supplies, wrecking them.

Our crew is still mingling with the humans when a band of apes — clothed, armed, and on horseback — hunts and captures them. Neither they nor we can see who is attacking at first. One of the astronauts is killed; Taylor is shot in the throat, which renders him mute and bleeding profusely. He is among the captured, and taken back to the apes' mostly pre-industrial city.

He becomes a research subject for a "chimpanzee" animal behaviorist, Dr Zira, who calls him "Bright Eyes" and approaches him with an "Aww, isn't he cute! And so intelligent for a human!" attitude; other apes, such as "gorilla" guard Julius and "orang-utan" Chief Scientist & Defender of the Faith Dr. Zaius, are more dismissive, saying he merely has a gift for mimicry. As the apes speak English (note that the apes had their own language in the original novel), he keeps trying unsuccessfully to communicate with them. He also falls for a mute human whom he names Nova, whom Zira gave him to breed with.

At one point, he's in an exercise pen with the other experimental humans. He writes in the dirt with a stick, hoping Zira will see — Nova, interested but knowing nothing about writing, erases it. Taylor starts to show the writing, realizes it's partly gone, and loses his temper. A large-scale brawl ensues. Afterwards, Dr. Zaius does see the writing, but he finishes erasing it without comment.

Taylor finally succeeds in communicating when he snatches a pencil and paper from Zira. Julius brutally snatches it back, but somehow the paper gets "My name is Taylor" written on it.

Although she is not supposed to do this kind of research, for various reasons, Zira nonetheless brings Taylor to her home and keeps communicating with him, amazed at what he seems to know. There, Taylor also meets her fiance Dr. Cornelius, a chimpanzee archaeologist who has become disgraced for venturing into the "Forbidden Zone" (the desert the astronauts crossed at the beginning); however, while there, Cornelius found evidence of a pre-ape civilization in a cave on a beach and has formulated a theory that apes evolved from men. Neither Zira nor Cornelius believe that Taylor is an astronaut from another planet, but Zira suggests that Taylor is Cornelius's "missing link" between men and apes — Cornelius, who is distrustful of Taylor and wary of being tried for scientific heresy, refuses to hear it.

Dr. Zaius drops in at that moment and sees Taylor there in the home, along with a paper aeroplane Taylor made to demonstrate the possibility of flight — he orders Taylor taken back to his cage and crushes the aeroplane. Back at the lab, Taylor overhears that he's to be gelded on Dr. Zaius's orders. He escapes and attempts to flee, but eventually is recaptured. When a gorilla guard touches him, Taylor cries out in front of everyone, "Take your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape!"

This leads to a trial for heresy that Taylor, Zira, and Cornelius cannot win. Taylor is placed in Dr. Zaius's custody and is threatened with emasculation and lobotomy unless he tells Zaius where his "tribe" is — Zaius says he believes that Taylor is some kind of mutant, and also believes there are many more like him beyond the Forbidden Zone and that they pose a threat to ape civilisation; Taylor, naturally, can't tell him anything.

Eventually, Zira's nephew Lucius breaks him out. At his insistence, Nova is broken out as well. Taylor, Zira, Cornelius, Nova, and Lucius head back into the Forbidden Zone to Cornelius's forbidden archaeological site, in the hopes of finding something that will clear their names (they know Taylor's landing site, but nobody sees any point in going there).

They are followed by Dr. Zaius and a contingent of gorillas. After disputes involving gunfire, the five of them plus Dr. Zaius go into the cave and examine Cornelius's archaeological evidence — among it is a human doll that can talk. It is decided that Taylor and Nova will be allowed to go and look for civilization or the rumored second forest on the other side of the Forbidden Zone. Dr. Zaius tells Taylor that he's always known about man's former civilization in his capacity as Defender of the Faith, and has dreaded its second coming: "The Forbidden Zone was once a paradise. Your breed made a desert of it, ages ago." After Taylor and Nova leave, Dr. Zaius orders that the cave be sealed and all the archaeological evidence concealed; he also says that Zira and Cornelius will be placed on trial for heresy and can expect up to two years in prison.

Taylor rides through the wilderness with Nova, and eventually spots the second jungle in the distance... only to discover a large blackened ruin in front of them on the beach. It drives him to despair, for reasons Nova can't understand and that those who somehow don't know the ending will take a moment to figure out. The ruin is none other than the Statue of Liberty. He realized that Man destroyed himself, sent society back to the Stone Age, and allowed the apes to conquer.

Beneath The Planet of the Apes

After a voiceover of Cornelius repeating the Humans Are the Real Monsters litany from the previous film, we watch as Taylor and Nova encounter the ruined Statue of Liberty, essentially repeating the last few minutes of the previous film. After recovering from his near breakdown, Taylor and Nova ride off towards the other jungle.

We cut to somewhere in the wilderness, where a ship very much like the one from the first film has crashed. A male astronaught, remarkably similar to Taylor in looks, stumbles out of the wreck, holding supplies and attending to an older man, lying wounded on a nearby blanket. As the two men converse, we learn the Taylor-look-alike is named Brent, and he and his "Skipper" were sent from Earth to try and rescue Taylor and his crew, and they have fallen through the same strange phenomena that they theorize has stranded Taylor. The old man dies and is buried by Brent, who is wondering where to start, when up rides a horse, on which is mounted Nova.

Brent tries to communicate with the mute girl, especially when he sees she is wearing Taylor's dogtags. Nova manages to understand him sufficiently to realise he is asking about Taylor, recalling that Taylor vanished some time ago after they were beset with mysterious phenomena that culminated in Taylor falling through a solid rock wall. Unable to communicate this to Brent, Nova finally takes his frustrated comments of "finding someone to talk to" as an excuse to lead him to Ape City.

Hidden in the wilderness, Brent and Nova watch as a great council of apes is held, a gorilla general named Ursus coaxing the apes to approve a plan of his to invade and conquer the Forbidden Zone by playing on their fears. Cornelius and Zira are watching the whole affair, but Zira is quite obviously disgusted with what is going on. Finally, the council breaks up, with Ursus having been given permission to launch his campaign.

In private, Ursus and Dr. Zaius talk about the Forbidden Zone, revealing the apes truly are in crisis, as famine is looming and they desperately need new croplands to grow food in. Furthermore, a dozen scouts from the Army have already been sent out to explore the Forbidden Zone; the first eleven vanished and the last one returned ranting about strange visions, evidently driven out of his mind.

Meanwhile, Cornelius and Zira return to their home, privately arguing about this latest scheme by the gorillas and their general barbarity. They are surprised when Brent and Nova emerge from hiding in their home, the mute native having led the astronaut there due to remembering her and Taylor's experiences with the couple. They explain their connection to Nova and Taylor to Brent, telling him where they saw him last and showing him a map to the Forbidden Zone. The two humans are forced to hide when Dr. Zaius drops in for a surprise visit, explaining to the two chimps that he must accompany General Ursus' expedition and he wants to leave them in charge while he's gone.

Once Zaius has left, Brent and Nova try to flee Ape City, but are caught by gorilla soldiers. At the human center, Zira tries to subtly save them, but the gorillas refuse, telling her that these two are to be taken for target practice. Zira still manages to steal the key and unlock their cage as they are carted away to their death.

Once safely out in the wilderness, Brent escapes the cage and manages to right the gorilla driver off, allowing him and Nova to steal the cart's horses and ride away towards the Forbidden Zone. More gorillas pursue them, while back in Ape City, Ursus and Zaius brutally disrupt and imprison a peaceful chimpanzee anti-war protest before continuing on to the Forbidden Zone.

In their efforts to hide from the gorillas, Brent and Nova seek refuge in a cave that leads to ancient ruins of a New York Subway tunnel; this clues Brent in to the same realisation as Taylor in the previous film's ending. A strange sound lures them deeper into the ruins, culminating in them finding a bizarre chamber. Their explorations are interrupted when an inexplicable madness comes over Brent, causing him to attack Nova and almost drown her. He manages to fight it off and stumbles through a set of doors, where he finds himself in an eerie, church-like setting, confronted with a strange figure in a white robe. Brent tries to communicate with him, but instead finds himself captured and imprisoned by the strange people.

The leaders of the strange humanoids pressure Brent to tell them what he knows of the apes' plans, using their strange Psychic Powers to torture him into compliance and refusing to listen when he protests he doesn't really know anything. Finally, they try to make him kill Nova again, whereupon he breaks down and admits the apes plan to attack the city.

Brent watches as the humans perform a religious ceremony, revealing they worship a surviving atomic bomb from before whatever it was that led to the apes dominating... as well as displaying that they are hideously deformed. While Nova is taken elsewhere, Brent is thrown into a cage with Taylor. When the two try to call the mutant standing guard over them on his hypocrisy, he sets the two to fighting. With the surprise appearance of Nova, though, they manage to fight it off and kill him, then start trying to free themselves. As they talk, Taylor confirms that the bomb the mutants worship is the "Alpha-Omega Bomb", a cobalt bomb that will utterly destroy the Earth if detonated.

At roughly the same time, the ape army is invading the Forbidden Zone. The mutants' illusions stymies them for several moments before their attempts to use a bleeding statue of their sacred Lawgiver to frighten them off spurs Dr. Zaius into proving the illusions are just that. Confidence restored, the apes charge onwards, finding their way into the mutants lair and beginning to slaughter everyone in their path.

Brent, Taylor and Nova finally escape, but too late; the apes are already there and Nova is fatally shot before Taylor can kill the gorilla attacking them. Despairing, but determined to stop the apes from inadverdently destroying them all, the two astronauts press on to the chamber of the "Holy Bomb". There, they witness the last mutant priest almost finish activating the bomb before being gunned down... and then General Ursus orders his gorillas to start tampering with the bomb. Brent and Taylor try to intervene to stop them doom them all, but Brent is killed and Taylor mortally wounded. He pleads with Dr. Zaius to help him stop the destruction, but Zaius refuses to help a human, citing how all humans are evil. Spitting curses, Taylor falls forward, dead...And pushes down the last of the activation switches.

A voiceover then describes how an insignificant blue-green planet has ceased to exist.

Escape From The Planet of the Apes

The US military is flung into action when a missing spaceship crashes down in the ocean off the coast of California. The ship is retrieved and three astronauts emerge from within, to full greetings... Until they remove their helmets and reveal themselves to be humanoid apes!

The strange primate astronaughts are bundled off to a secret waiting cell, while the humans try to figure out what to do with them. Finally, they decide to send them to the local zoo for medical treatment, where they find themselves in a cage next to that shared by a distressed gorilla.

While the humans are pondering things, we learn that the three apes are chimpanzees, the last survivors of the Planet of the Apes; Cornelius, Zira, and a newcomer, Dr. Milo, who salvaged Taylor's ship from the lake, repaired it, and used it to escape with the two of them before the Alpha-Omega Bomb was detonated. The three of them establish they have travelled back to the past, by their reckoning, and determine to play dumb, so that they do not face trouble from humans who would surely react poorly to the description of the world they come from.

Zira, however, does not agree with this, and being tested for intelligence highly insults her, due to her own background in animal psychiatry. She finally gives the game away when she unthinkingly snaps, in response to the zoo's animal psychiatrist wondering why she won't take the banana she has "earned", that she loathes that particular fruit. The humans run off in a panic, and the quarreling of the chimpanzees only further agravates the gorilla, who manages to reach through the bars and throttle Dr. Milo.

It is against this background that the humans try to reattempt first contact.

Conquest of the Planet of the Apes

To Be Done

Battle For The Planet of the Apes

To Be Done

Planet of the Apes (2001)

To Be Done

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

To Be Done

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