With the upcoming Rise of the Planet of the Apes movie starring actor and Oscar host James Franco, a lot of people want to know what happened in the original Planet of the Apes movies. We’re going to focus on the original 5 movies, not the hated remake Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes did starring Marky Mark, star of M Night Shyamalan’s critical failure The Happening.
A team of 4 astronauts Taylor (played by Charlton Heston), Landon, Dodge and Stewart (a lady astronaut, which was incredibly progressive in 1968 when the movie came out) have been traveling at near-light-speed through space since 1972. Over 2000 years pass in real time, while for the astronauts only 18 months pass because they’re in hibernation mode. All of a sudden, there’s engine problems and the ship crashes into a planet. Unfortunately for the women’s lib movement, the one female astronaut on the ship has been long dead due to an air leak in her stasis chamber. The remaining 3 astronauts emerge on this strange new planet, to find that apes rule the planet and that humans are nothing more than mute savages that the apes enslave, hunt down and kill.
While fleeing, Landon is killed and both Dodge and Taylor are hurt and taken prisoner by these apes and separated. Taylor is rendered mute due to his throat being injured. He’s imprisoned in a cage with a half-naked, buxom and mute slave girl named Nova (could be a lot worse right? I’ve had dates not that good!).From there Taylor is brought to APE CITY where he encounters 2 chimpanzee scientists – including an animal psychologist named Zira who takes kindly to him. He eventually also befriends her fiance Cornelius, who’s an archeologist. Eventually, it comes out that Taylor can talk and that he’s actually intelligent.
Taylor escapes, ends up in a museum where he comes across his old colleague Dodge stuffed and mounted. He’s recaptured by apes and utters “Take your stinking paws off me you damn dirty ape!” and then everybody knows the terror of an intelligent talking human amongst them.
They have a trial to discover Taylor’s origins since humans on their planet are mute and primitive, and Taylor’s mere existence is considered heresy. Things don’t go too well of course, they eventually threaten to lobotomize him if he keeps on talking about being from a planet where men dominate over apes (which is what happened to his old body Dodge). Zira and Cornelius eventually help him escape, and he ends up in the Forbidden Zone, which is an area that the apes are forbidden from entering. Cornelius tells Taylor that in his archeological diggings that he found evidence of a society where humans were intelligent and apes not so much. The proof of this is in the Forbidden Zone, which is why the apes of the city are forbidden from entering there,
Taylor and Nova ride away into the Forbidden zone, away from the apes that are pursuing them. All of a sudden, Taylor finds the truth when he finds the charred remains of the Statue of Liberty half-submerged in the shoreline. He comes to the realization that this “Planet of the Apes” that Taylor is stranded on, is nothing more than the remains of a post-Apocalyptic Earth that he left behind.
He goes down to his knees screaming “We really did it. You maniacs! You blew it up! Damn you. God damn you all to Hell!”
It starts where the original ended, Nova and Taylor riding their horses across the Forbidden Zone. They somehow get separated. Taylor ends up riding away and suddenly disappearing into the Zone.
Meanwhile, a second spaceship ends up crashed on earth. Turns out, after Taylor’s crew went missing, they decided to send a 2nd crew to find them. Their first encounter is with Nova, and again – I can think of worst first encounters than one with a half-naked, buxom and mute slave girl named Nova. And she has Taylor’s dog tags around their neck, so they know their search was not in vain. They make their way to Ape City where they finally realize that they’re on a planet of apes.
Eventually they end up hiding in the ruins of what they realize is the ruins of the subways of New York City, and they figure out that they’re actually in Earth’s future. They come across a society of mutated human beings, telepathic and scarred by the nuclear fallout that they’ve been exposed to. These mutants are actually worshiping an antique nuclear bomb.
The ape army finds out about what’s going on with intelligent humans being around and storm the mutants facility. Rather than get captured by these apes, the remaining humans decide to detonate their “divine” bomb.
Apes kill Nova, as is the other astronaut and Taylor is critically injured. Taylor begs with an ape for help, is refused, so he brings his hand down hard on the detonator button for the nuclear bomb.
All life is destroyed on planet Earth.
Taylor ends up dying along with everybody else. Ironically, he ends up being huge in the NRA.
Before Earth blows up, three chimpanzees escape! Cornelius and Zira, who we already know from the first 2 films – escape with another chimp named Milo (actually – Dr. Milo to you!). Somehow, three chimps from a pre-industrial civilization figured out how to repair Taylor’s broken spaceship and fly away from earth just before it explodes. For that matter, how did they know in Beyond the Planet of the Apes that Taylor’s crew was lost when they were on a multi-year voyage and only a year or so had passed.
Anyways, they blast off, earth explodes, the shock waves create a wormhole in time that the ship passes through and they end up splashing down on the Pacific Coast in 1973. From there, they’re transported and held in a secluded area of the LA Zoo, where not only is the fact that they speak discovered by everybody else, but Milo ends up being killed by a gorilla who’s just as violent and aggressive as his future counterparts are.
Milo, we hardly knew ye.
Eventually it comes out that these speaking apes are amongst us, and they become celebrities to an adoring public who love them. Zira comes out as being pregnant, and that coupled with the news that in there future apes dominate over men and humans are treated as slaves who are hunted, killed and experimented on (and not necessarily in that order!). Scared of this ape-dominated future, they’re ordered to be executed, and Zira’s baby terminated, rather than that possibly happening.
Cornelius and Zira somehow escape and hide in a circus led by Senor Armando (played by Fantasy Island’s Ricardo Montalban). Zira gives birth to a son they name Milo after their fallen friend. Eventually, Cornelius, Zira and the young baby are hunted down and killed and everybody feels safe again.
Phewwwwww.. now we can enjoy the rest of the 70’s!
Wait!!! It seems that an ape in the zoo named Heloise had a baby around the same time that Zira did.. and they switched that one around with Zira’s baby.
The movie ends with the baby chimp crying “Mama? Mama?”
A couple of years have passed, it’s 1983 and out of nowhere a disease ends up killing the world’s population of cats and dogs. A grieving populace decides that apes make a great substitute and end up domesticating them. This “domestication” includes training their “pets” to do household tasks, to the point of where they become slave labor for the human population.
Meanwhile Senor Armando and a grown-up Milo (now called “Caesar”) travel around as part of the circus. “Caesar” is eternally careful to not speak, less he be recognized as the son of the intelligent apes who were killed not long ago in fear of what might happen.
Eventually, “Caesar” gets caught speaking and Armando does everything in his power to cover the situation up. Of course, people eventually realize what’s up and Armando gets killed as a result. Upset by the loss of the only human that he cared for, “Caesar” loses faith in humanity and begins plotting a rebellion against the humans by the slave ape population. He trains them in combat and gathers weapons, and starts a revolution that will eventually lead to apes overtaking men.
A decade has passed and we’re in the middle of a post-nuclear society. An older and wiser Caesar tries to cultivate a peace between the surviving humans/mutants and the apes.
The saga ends 600 years later as the great ape Lawgiver gives a speech to a group of young humans and apes co-existing in peace about the peace that Caesar fought for.