Dogs and cats have been wiped out in a plague and apes have replaced them as pets… more like slaves, actually. Conquest of the Planet of the Apes is the least feasible scenario in the saga, but if you can swallow the setup, the movie turns out to be another solid sci-fi flick.
Roddy McDowall returns, not as Cornelius (who died in the last movie), but as his son Caesar. Caesar has been raised by Armando (Ricardo Montalban), the kindly circus owner we met in the last film. The movie begins with Armando relinquishing Caesar to a government-run ape training facility. McDowall gives his best performance from the Apes movies here. Caesar starts out as a frightened orphan, but he’s transformed by the violence and torture he sees at the facility. He begins a revolution and leads the apes to freedom in a bloody revolt staged by director J. Lee Thompson (The Guns of Navarone).
Conquest is a dark film that almost received an “R” rating. In fact, the movie ends with several gorillas beating a man to death while Caesar promises an end to all of mankind. It’s probably too dark to satisfy younger fans of the franchise, but Conquest continues a respected tradition of allegorical science fiction that reflects the turbulence of the time it was made.
Scott studied film and sociology at Indiana University and is currently the video producer for a large publishing company. He is the director of several independent films, including "House of Hope," "Off the Beaten Path," "The Day Joe Left," and "Found." For more about Scott, visit www.scottschirmer.com. Scott is also one of the principal organizers of the Dark Carnival Film Festival. (www.darkcarnivalfilmfest.com)