“Ape shall never kill ape."
(Caesar), Claude Akins (Aldo),
Natalie Trundy (Lisa), Severn Darden (Kolp), Lew Ayres (Mandemus), Paul Williams
(Virgil), Austin Stoker (MacDonald), Noah Keen (Abe), Richard Eastham (Mutant
Captain), France Nuyen (Alma), Paul Stevens (Mendez), Heather Lowe (Doctor),
Bobby Porter (Cornelius), Michael Stearns (Jake), Cal Wilson (Soldier), Pat
Cardi (Young Chimp), John Landis (Jake’s Friend), Andy Knight (Mutant on
Motorcycle), John Huston (Lawgiver).
Story by Paul Dehn. Screenplay by John William Corrington and
Joyce Hooper Corrington. Directed by J. Lee Thompson.
In the year 2670, and an aged orangutan reads from a
scroll, the story he tells is of Caesar, who 10 years after leading the enslaved
apes to freedom, has set up the first city of the apes, human civilisation has
been overthrown and the cities of the world have turned to dust in a nuclear
It is 2001, and in Caesar’s city, humans, while not being
laid as low as their former slaves, are the servants in the new pecking order.
Caesar while being the leader of the apes, has left his
militant ways behind him and is trying to shape a new world. He is now a husband
to Lisa, and they have a son, Cornelius.
While Caesar tries to preach living in harmony with their
former masters, the gorilla General Aldo, whose ambition far outweighs his
intelligence, opposes him. If he had his way every human in the city would be
When Caesar questions his own leadership, MacDonald, the
brother of the man who saved Caesar from electrocution, tells the chimp that he
can hear the answers to his questions from his own parents Cornelius and Zira,
whose testimony was preserved on tapes in the archives of the old city.
Caesar mounts an expedition to the city, taking with him his
best friend, the orangutan Virgil and MacDonald, they are armed with weapons
from the ape armoury, which is guarded by ‘Caesar’s conscience, the orangutan
Nuclear missiles have melted the city, and the two apes and
human must find the archives below it before they get a lethal dose of
Finding the archives and the tapes of Cornelius and Zira,
Caesar learns that in the year 3950-something, apes will destroy the earth!
The explorers find they are being monitored, the city is not
dead, and humans who are being mutated by the background radiation still live in
the blasted remains.
Caesar, Virgil and MacDonald have to fight their way out of
the city as the former Inspector Kolp, now the Governor, orders them to be
captured or killed.
The trio return to Ape City and Caesar calls a council
meeting to tell of his findings. General Aldo wants to attack the mutants, but
is overruled by Caesar. Aldo is further incensed when humans are invited to the
council to make plans should the mutants attack. Outraged, Aldo and his gorilla
leave the council meeting.
Meanwhile, a mutant army has crawled out of the city ruins in
any vehicle they can find and advance on the city of the apes.
Late at night, Caesar’s son Cornelius is feeding his pet
squirrel, when it escapes from its cage, giving chase, the young chimp overhears
General Aldo making plans to usurp his father’s leadership. Spotting Cornelius
in a tree overhead, Aldo climbs towards the frightened young chimp, hacking at
the branch Cornelius is perched on. The branch gives way and Cornelius falls to
ground badly injuring himself.
Caesar and Lisa are distraught, and maintain a bedside vigil
for their son who sadly dies, but not before telling Caesar that people want to
hurt him. Virgil comes to Caesar to inform him Aldo has locked all the humans up
in a compound and raided the armoury of its weapons.
Just as Caesar gets to the compound, demanding the humans’
release, the mutants attack and a fierce between the apes and mutants ensues.
The apes are victorious, Aldo and his gorillas kill Kolp, and rest of the mutant
survivors are allowed to return to their dead city.
Once again Caesar attempts to free the humans in the compound
but is barred by Aldo, Virgil then lets it be known that he and MacDonald found
a bayonet had cut the branch Cornelius fell from. Caesar realises Aldo is the
one Cornelius said wants to hurt him, Aldo’s soldiers turn on their leader for
he has broken the sacred law that ape shall not kill ape!
Enraged, Caesar backs the frightened general into the high
branches of a tree, but this time it is Aldo who falls to his death.
Caesar wearily unlocks the gate to the compound holding the
humans, but they refuse to leave. MacDonald tells the ape leader freedom means
nothing if they are not treated as equals. Caesar takes this in and declares
they will build a new city for everyone.
In 2670, the aged orangutan, which is in fact the Lawgiver
mentioned in Planet and Beneath, finishes reading his story to an enthralled
class of apes and humans. One little girl asks the Lawgiver who knows the
future? He replies: “Perhaps only the dead.”
Not far away from the Lawgiver’s class, there is a statue of
Caesar, a close-up revealing a single tear falling down a stone cheek.
COMMENT: Battle is really an enjoyable straight adventure
story, with little of the subtext of the rest of the apes series. One nice touch
though is the inclusion of the Lawgiver, it would seem that judging by the
earlier films his teachings have been perverted somewhat, or has Caesar
succeeded in changing the future of the planet? Does his statue cry with the joy
that he has achieved his aim of humans and apes living together as exemplified
in the Lawgiver’s class, or does he know that sometime in the future, a man
named Taylor will land on the planet of the apes and the cycle will begin again?
Battle’s budget was a measly $.1.2 million.
There are actually two versions of the film! One version has a subplot in which
Kolp orders the mutant girl Alma to detonate the Alpha/Omega bomb first seen in
Beneath should he not return from the war with the apes. Mendez, Kolp’s aide,
and the descendant of the mutant Mendez also from the second film, stays Alma’s
hand when Kolp does not return.
Yes, that really is future Blues Brothers director John Landis playing Jake’s
Producer Arthur P. Jacobs, the man who had the perseverance to bring Pierre
Boulle’s story to the screen, died on June 27, 1973, of a heart attack, he was
51 years old.
- written by Peter Noble