Escape from the Planet of the Apes is by far the best of the Apes sequels, and certainly the most emotional film in the franchise. The Earth blew up at the end of the previous installment, but not before Zira (Kim Hunter) and Cornelius (Roddy McDowall) escaped back in time to present-day Los Angeles. The first half of Escape is the most light-hearted storytelling you’ll find in the series. It’s fun to watch Zira and Cornelius as fish out of water, first surprising the government with their ability to speak and reason, and later becoming celebrities. But if you enjoy the whimsy, hold onto it. Because the second half of this film is as dark as the first is light.
Zira becomes pregnant and the government believes her baby should be killed in order to change the future (so that apes never dominate humans). For fans of these films, Zira and Cornelius are probably the most beloved characters, and it’s absolutely heartbreaking to see them running for their lives and the life of their baby.
In typical Apes fashion, the end is another shocker. Hunter and McDowall give wonderful, underrated performances once again, and Ricardo Montalban (Khaaaaaaaaan!) makes a pleasant appearance as a kindly circus owner who gives them shelter.
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)