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Best To Worst: Ranking The ‘Planet Of The Apes’ Movies

Best To Worst: Ranking The 'Planet Of The Apes' Movies

By now, unless you’re totally deaf to advance buzz or have been living on a Luddite commune for the last few weeks, you’ll be aware that Friday’s “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” will open wide with a great groundswell of critical approval behind it (you can read our own extremely positive review here). Whether that will translate into box office is anyone’s guess, but the omens are in its favor: ‘Dawn’ seems destined to benefit from strong word of mouth, especially around Andy Serkis’ motion-capture performance, the trailers have been playing like gangbusters (even if their violence sparked complaints during the World Cup) and most importantly, it’s the sequel to the remarkably successful “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” which itself took nearly half a billion dollars worldwide.

The franchise, which has been so triumphantly rebooted, now consists of eight big-screen outings: the original 1968 Charlton Heston classic and its four sequels, the abortive reboot attempt that was Tim Burton’s 2001 film and now the two new Rupert Wyatt and Matt Reeves additions to the canon. To celebrate the release of ‘Dawn’ (and it is cause for celebration indeed) we’ve taken a helicopter view of the whole lot and ranked them in order of quality. If you’re planning a pre-’Dawn’ viewing session to get yourself in the mood, or if you leave the theater buzzing for more ape-on-human action, here’s our rundown of every ‘Planet of the Apes’ film, from worst to best:

8. “Planet of the Apes” (Tim Burton, 2001)
Of all the film ideas that do not benefit from being rendered in style-over-content form, perhaps the sci-fi story of an ape civilization that has risen to compete with the primacy of humankind is the most exemplary: what makes any “Planet of the Apes” film great is how thematically weighty it can be and how fertile a ground it provides for social and political allegory, not that it gives someone an excuse to spend loads of money making it look cool. But enter 2001-era Tim Burton who entirely seemed to mistake the surface of the concept for its substance (this was before this very tendency had fully manifested itself as his fatal flaw), and so managed to deliver a totally incoherent and tin-eared version of the story, while still spending $100 million on it. And in fairness to him, a lot of that money is up there on the screen: Rick Baker’s make up and creature effects are pretty outstanding; the apes’ clothing and armor is wonderfully well-designed; and the world is built with an eye for scale and spectacle. But underneath that impressive gloss (which occasionally feels almost distractingly overdesigned, viz Helena Bonham Carter’s Ari with her eyeliner and shaggy but unmistakably coiffed bob) the actors struggle to invest a paper-thin story with any real emotional heft, not helped by Mark Wahlberg delivering one of his most blank, bland and overwhelmed performances at the center. Worst of all, in a franchise kind of famous for spectacular dismounts, Burton’s films ends in a way that simply feels unearned, with a kind of unexplained gotcha! that seems more designed to cliffhanger us into a sequel than to actually round out a plot that has been until then both needlessly overcomplicated and thematically simplistic. Despite the film’s decent showing ($360 million worldwide) that sequel never came to pass, thank God–reportedly Burton himself said he “would rather jump out of a window” than do another ‘Apes,’ and the franchise, which had been dead on the big-screen for nearly 30 years was put on ice for another decade before being rebooted into “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” which, while not a 100% home run, certainly seemed to have learned many of the lessons of Burton’s turgid misfire.

7. “Battle for the Planet of the Apes” (J. Lee Thomson, 1973)
The fifth and final entry in the original franchise ‘Battle’ is rightly regarded as the least of them, largely due to drastic budget reduction which led to skimping on things like production design and number of extras (it’s by far the emptiest ‘Apes’ film as regards people milling around in the background). It’s hard to get the same feeling of awe and epic scale that the series’ best installments can offer when you’re essentially watching ten guys squabble in a forest, and yet, shoddiness of staging and editing aside (take the risible climactic Caesar vs Aldo tree battle for a prime example of both) you can still see enough here story-wise to justify the fact that it forms the loose basis for this week’s triumphant ‘Dawn.’ Roddy McDowall returns as Caesar, some years (either 12 or 27, depending on who you believe) after the events of ‘Conquest,’ and this time he is the king of Ape City, an enclave of survivors from the war, in which apes and humans co-exist but the humans are distinctly subservient. The belligerent Aldo, the gorilla general of the ape army chafes against Caesar’s pacifism, however, and so while the film also has antagonists in the form of a mutated human army (again, of about ten, who ride to war on a school bus), it’s really more about the factionalism within the ape ranks. One casualty of that is the human characterization—while McDowall is strong again in his signature role, his assistant MacDonald (Austin Stoker) is the only human with any amount of dialogue apart from Severn Darden as the enjoyably batshit irradiated rebel General, and what he has is mostly expository. Still, there are flickers of previous ‘Apes’ movies’ nuances and politics—even the mutant humans get a speech in their defense by Caesar’s wife Lisa (Natalie Trundy), and if the ape vs mutant battle looks about as dramatic as a few kids playing soldiers around a bonfire, it still does call into question the value of pacifism in an interesting way. Interesting, but somewhat confused—it’s possible there is simply too much factionalism going on at this point, too many mini-internal conflicts, not to mention references to God, to work out the film’s overall position or philosophy. Still it does provide, as ever, a vehicle for a very peculiar kind of meta species self-disgust for us humans, as when Aldo the gorilla is found out to have committed ape-on-ape murder and MacDonald wryly observes that it “looks like they’ve joined the human race.” Poorly shot, carelessly thrown together and outside of McDowall and Darden rather listlessly acted, what’s surprising is that there’s still enough story juice here to power ‘Battle’ along, and almost enough to make the John Huston cameo that bookends the film and delivers its last reveal in the year 2670, oddly touching.

6. “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” (Ted Post, 1970)
The original “Planet of the Apes” is a hard act to follow, and “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” isn’t really up to the challenge. The movie begins right after the big reveal that capped off the first movie, with Taylor (Charlton Heston, who supposedly donated his sizable check for what amounts to a “guest appearance” to a charity of his choosing) venturing further into the Forbidden Zone. After the earth starts to crack and flames shoot out of the ground, Taylor disappears, leaving the mute (but incredibly hot) Nova (Linda Harrison) to find help. It turns out she doesn’t have to look far, because Brent (James Franciscus), an astronaut who has traveled into the same portal looking for Taylor and his crewmates, shows up. This is problem #1 with “Beneath the Planet of the Apes:” James Franciscus is fucking awful. He looks sort of like Heston, something producer Richard Zanuck later said was a deliberate attempt to confuse the audience, but none of his gravitas or gruff charm. (His beard is pretty good though.) The movie is rather plodding, with Brent going through the same motions that Taylor did, although there are some delightful flourishes: James Gregory as warmongering gorilla commander General Ursus (who utters the immortal “The only good human is a dead human!” line); a long, unbroken tracking shot of the gorilla training camp; and more upfront political commentary, like when the apes, bound for battle, encounter a group of peace-loving chimpanzees with signs that read “Unity in Peace.” (The movie’s lively last 30 minutes, when Brent encounters an underground society of mutants that worships an atomic bomb, and runs into Taylor, is pretty trippy too, if completely nonsensical.) Still, in addition to Franciscus’ wooden performance, there are a number of things that make “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” one of the least engaging entries in the franchise: the large crowd scenes, where extras are clearly wearing Halloween-style plastic masks, the wonky pacing, the lack of Roddy McDowall (he was directing a project in England at the time) and the bleak ending which tries to top the shock of the first film (and doesn’t) and seems to have been designed almost exclusively so Heston wouldn’t have to show up for another sequel.

5. “Conquest of the Planet of the Apes” (J. Lee Thompson, 1972)
The “Planet of the Apes” films had always been political, but with “Conquest of the Planet of the Apes,” things got angry. And it was awesome. Continuing the tradition of the sequels having bigger canvases but smaller budgets, “Conquest of the Planet of the Apes” takes place in the nebulously phrased “North America – 1991” and was filmed in the newly opened, starkly modern Century City, an urban tangle built on land formerly owned by 20th Century Fox. In the years since “Escape from the Planet of the Apes,” a virus has killed off most of the domesticated pets on earth, leaving apes to supposedly fill that role (and so much more). These apes are basically slaves, and so it’s up to Armando (Ricardo Montalban, back again, this time sporting some wispy facial hair) to protect the super smart child of Cornelius and Zira, Caesar (Roddy McDowall, this time playing his own son, something he described later as “a unique acting challenge”). Of course, Caesar is found out and put through the process the rest of the apes face, a kind of training program/internment camp, which serves to militarize him, until he eventually leads a violent ape revolt against the human oppressors. McDowall is, once again, flawless, and one of the most touching moments in the entire franchise is when he discovers that the human government has murdered Armando. As tears roll down McDowall’s make-up-coated cheeks, there’s no doubt that this character is 100% real. Shortly before “Conquest of the Planet of the Apes” was released, the studio got skittish about the movie’s level of violence and its incendiary political subtext (which referenced everything from America’s history with slavery to more contemporary issues like the Watts riots), and softened the ending, which had Caesar leading an all-out execution of the human prisoners (“Ape management is in the hands of the apes”). That version has been beautifully restored for the Blu-ray release and is the essential incarnation of “Conquest of the Planet of the Apes,” which has its share of cheap drive-in moments but is also surprisingly cerebral and dark. It also set the stage to a truly explosive finale to the series, which unfortunately ended up not coming to pass (see ‘Battle‘ above).

4. “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” (Rupert Wyatt, 2011)
With ‘Dawn’ by all accounts eclipsing the first entry in the rebooted franchise, it would be easy to undervalue “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” by comparison, but that would do an injustice to just what a Herculean task Rupert Wyatt’s film achieved. Bursting out of the gates from the standing start of a moribund franchise whose last attempt at rejuvenation (Burton’s 2001 film) had become more or less a punchline, where it was remembered at all, ‘Rise’ had a seemingly insurmountable mountain to climb to claw back any relevance to the modern filmgoer. But two major factors allowed it to do just that: an industry in which the fields of motion-capture technology and computer generated imagery had made exponential strides forward in achieving photorealist creature effects, and a cracking script that makes the characters of the apes, particularly Caesar, as unforgettably performed by mo-cap superstar Andy Serkis, among the most complex and rounded of recent blockbuster protagonists. Again, perhaps the human characterization suffers a little by comparison—James Franco is not on quite the sleepy-eyed autopilot he is elsewhere but he’s not an especially interesting human foil, and we instantly forgot Freida Pinto was even in this—but perhaps that’s all the better for us to become invested in the apes, not just Caesar but the Maurice the orangutan who knows sign language, Buck the gorilla and the bitter bonobo Koba. For the majority of its run time, the film is a complex, absorbing piece of work, as we watch the watchful Caesar progress from observation to comprehension to the planning and organizing that indicate vastly superior intelligence, all through the minutest of performance details. Indeed the almost-silent-movie-style heist sequence in which Caesar leaves his “prison,” to steal the intelligence-enhancing gas is as fine an example of pure cinema as the tentpole has yielded recently, all culminating in that first, shocking spoken word–“No.” In fact, ‘Rise’ could even have outflanked 1971’s ‘Escape’ and even maybe the 1968 original on this list were it not for its final battle scenes which become suddenly a bit daft by comparison: as action scenes they’re well staged and exciting, but it’s hard to maintain the same level of intellectual engagement when you’re watching a gorilla make a twenty foot jump off the Golden Gate bridge and into a helicopter. Still, ‘Rise’ largely delivered the last thing any of us were really expecting—an intelligent, thrilling ‘Apes’ movie that must surely go down as one of the most successful and welcome franchise reboots ever.

3. “Escape from the Planet of the Apes” (Don Taylor, 1971)
Fox wanted another sequel, and that’s what they got, with this inventive, wholly underrated time travel romp. Before the bomb went off at the end of “Beneath the Planet of the Apes,” it seems that a trio of chimpanzee scientists – Cornelius (Roddy McDowall, back thank god), Zira (Kim Hunter) and Dr. Milo (Sal Mineo) jumped in Taylor’s derelict spacecraft and traveled through the same wormhole that brought him to the planet of the apes, only this time they were the ones landing on a human-filled earth circa 1971. It’s an ingenious set-up that works well, complete with a dynamite pre-opening credits sequence where the spacecraft returns to earth, greeted by adoring members of the military who assume it’s Taylor and his crew (or, we suppose, that wet blanket Brent) but instead are greeted by a trio of human-sized chimpanzees—the sequence sets the tone for the movie, with its mix of fish-out-of-water commentary and uneasy tension. The first half is the lighter half, with talking apes Zira and Cornelius being given human clothes and treated like celebrities (“The biggest story since the moon landing” is one reporter’s grave opinion). This section of the movie is fun and funny (we love it when, while making an introduction to a tribunal, a priest gets worked up over the fact that Zira and Cornelius are married) but leads to a darker, more morally complicated second half, when Zira announces that she is pregnant and the government, aware that the visitors have come from an ape-dominated future-world, do all they can to terminate the pregnancy. The real star of “Escape from the Planet of the Apes” isn’t the ape make-up, which, with so few ape characters, returns to the sophisticated glory days of the original, but McDowall, who is able to show surprising range as Cornelius, first displaying his fine comedic chops (when the same tribunal asks Cornelius if he can also speak, he says, “Only when she lets me”) and his penchant for drama, especially towards the tragedy-streaked conclusion. Feminism briefly becomes one of the series’ political concerns, as Zira speaks in front of a women’s group and the notion of terminating the pregnancy coming across as a thinly veiled look at women’s reproductive rights in the early ’70s. And while the movie’s ending is just as grim as the previous two, there are, at least, glimmers of hope, with Zira and Cornelius’ baby taken in by a kindly circus owner played, with typical gusto, by Ricardo Montalban (“Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!”) A special shout out also should be reserved for Jerry Goldsmith‘s groovy score, which nearly eclipses the groundbreaking work he did on the original film (he wisely sat out the sequel). “Escape from Planet of the Apes” is, in fact, a superior film in many ways to the first, but is lacking that film’s freshness and originality. Still: an undeniable high watermark for the franchise.

2. “Planet of the Apes” (Franklin J. Schaffner, 1968)
In the beginning, there was only, simply, “Planet of the Apes.” The passion project of publicist-turned-producer Arthur P. Jacobs, it was based, somewhat loosely on a 1963 French science fiction novel by “Bridge Over the River Kwai” author Pierre Boulle (who privately thought the novel was one of his lesser works and unworthy for a screen adaptation). In the film, a quartet of astronauts (including a woman, who goes uncredited of course) slips through a wormhole in space and winds up on a savage planet. At first things seem okay, with primitive humans belonging, seemingly, to an simple agrarian society but then, following a famous chase sequence through a cornfield, the true rulers of the planet are revealed: a race of highly intelligent apes. The astronauts are separated, leaving only Taylor (Charlton Heston) to fend for himself on this strange and merciless planet, until reaching the final, shocking conclusion as to what this planet is (a twist ending every bit worthy of original screenwriter Rod Serling, who after several drafts was replaced and almost all of his work jettisoned). The original “Planet of the Apes” was unlike anything that had come before it—bleak, apocalyptic, but also playful and strange and scary (like when Taylor comes across the remains of one of his fallen astronaut chums or it’s revealed that one of them has been lobotomized). The political subtext that would become straight-up text in the later installments is also present, although slightly toned down and stuffed into the background and Franklin J. Schaffner, whose next film would be “Patton” and would go on to direct “Papillon” and “The Boys from Brazil” helms with sure-footed fluidity. And while the apes got the notice as being a technological breakthrough, with John Chambers‘ make-up effects winning him an honorary Academy Award the following year, really everything about the film felt odd and groundbreaking (like Jerry Goldsmith‘s eerie score and Leon Shamroy‘s sun-drenched photography), and as impressive as the effects were, it was the performers themselves, especially Roddy McDowall as Cornelius, Kim Hunter as Zira, and Maurice Evans as Dr. Zaius, that made them so iconic and beloved. A brilliant synthesis of story, theme, performance and innovation, it’s no wonder the original “Planet of the Apes” spawned the pop culture phenomenon we know today.

1. “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” (Matt Reeves, 2014)
Maybe the biggest surprise of “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” a movie that played like a seemingly never-ending series of surprises, was the emotional connection formed between the audience and Caesar. So it’s not much of a surprise that almost all of the sequel, directed by “Let Me In” and “Cloverfield” filmmaker Matt Reeves, would hone in on that connection, resulting in easily the most emotionally complex (and, at times, scariest) entry in the entire franchise. Set ten years after the events of “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” after the world has been ravaged by the killer virus seen in the first film (the outbreak dramatized in a beautiful, nearly wordless prologue), this film is set largely in the burgeoning ape community that has cropped up in the overgrown forests now surrounding San Francisco. Caesar is leading peaceably, sometimes using tenets from earlier movies (“Ape shall not kill ape” is one of the elements appropriated from “Beneath the Planet of the Apes“), a harmonious ecosystem that is dangerously threatened when human survivors from San Francisco (led by Jason Clarke) encroach onto the apes’ land while looking for a new source of power. Tensions gradually mount until an all-out war begins between ape and human. Reeves establishes a deliberate mood and pace early on, with the first 20 minutes or so spent in the apes’ camp, watching them use sign language and go on hunts (everything is mossy and earthy). With the introduction of the human element, Reeves pumps up the tension (this is easily the scariest apes film since the 1968 original) and maintains an almost unbearable level of suspense, right up until the credits roll. But it’s the film’s emotionality that makes it so special. Andy Serkis’ performance is even better and more nuanced than it was in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” and the sequences he shares with his wife Cornelia (Judy Greer) and Clarke, are hugely powerful. While the human drama is somewhat throwaway and there has yet to be a strong female character introduced on the level of Zira, it’s hard not to be dazzled by “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”—everything from its jaw-dropping 3D photography to Michael Giacchino‘s delicate (and at times, muscular) score, to Gary Oldman‘s more nuanced human villain. This represents the peak of the series, not because of its cleverness or political allusions or technological innovations, but because of the size of its heart. It’s positively planetary.

There is also more tangential “Planet of the Apes”-related content that is interesting, if not essential. There was the 1974 “Planet of the Apes” television series that ran on CBS for a whopping 14 episodes in the fall and winter of 1974. The decision to do the series on CBS was due, in part, to the tremendous ratings that the first three movies racked up when CBS aired them as movies-of-the-week. Taking its cue from “The Fugitive,” the series featured a pair of goofy astronauts (played by Ron Harper and James Naughton), who crash land on the titular planet and then go on the run from the oppressive ape forces that rule. So, yes, they would basically get caught and escape every week. The series is slightly interesting for yet again featuring Roddy McDowall, this time playing a young ape named Galen (who, of course, tries to keep the humans out of trouble) and for the fact that “Twilight Zone” mastermind Rod Serling, who had a hand in the original film’s screenplay, wrote scripts for the first two episodes (these were never filmed). In 1980, the series would live on, sort of, as five made-for-television movies. A year after the live action series aired, an animated series also ran, for 13 episodes, as part of NBC‘s Saturday morning line-up. Entitled “Return to the Planet of the Apes,” the series was cheaply animated but is, as yet, the only representation of the more advanced ape civilization as depicted in author Pierre Boulle‘s original novel. More essential than either series is “Behind the Planet of the Apes,” a 1998 made-for-TV documentary by Kevin Burns and David Comtois that was hosted by McDowall and delves into the entire franchise, including the somewhat problematic sequels and the ahead-of-its-time merchandizing blitz that accompanied the series. There are lots of juicy behind-the-scenes details crammed into the documentary, although just as many went unexplored, leaving us with a slight pang of longing for a follow-up chronicle. But that’s a characteristic of almost the entire “Planet of the Apes” franchise: always leaving you wanting more.

Let us know your feelings about the franchise and our rankings, (are we “hail Caesar” or “damn dirty apes”?) in the comments below. — Drew Taylor, Jessica Kiang

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mikael Segedi

You can stream all Planet of the Apes Movies, TV series and animated series at

Btw great article


I know I’m late to this party but I just ran across this article. I have not yet seen the newest films but have watched the first six numerous times. I would rate them 1 Planet
2 Conquest
3 Beneath
4 Battle
5 the Burton reboot (if only for casting Heston as an ape)
6 Beneath which is rock bottom due to absence of Roddy McDowall Coupled with general stupidity of the rest of the film.

Gato Fuji

Boy, can opinions about Planet of the Apes movies be so different. My favourites are (as a tie) Beneath and Conquest, followed by Escape, then Battle, and only then the original (which is too simple), and ending with its Burton’s remake. I haven’t seen the other XXI century sequel. I must go back and proclaim my surprise for the praise of the original PotA. It’s too plain, too simple, nothing to make you think about (except the interesting ending).


Don’t you just hate commentors like the above Dr.Zaius? Guess no one can have an opinion on the internet. Go start a blog and write your own.


It’s not a bad list, and to be honest I’ve only seen the first 3 films of the original series, Burtons POTA, and the two reboots of the series. So despite not seeing all the movies, my list goes like this:
1) Planet of the Apes
2) Dawn
3) Rise
4) Escape
5) Burtons (I actually enjoyed this film, Tim Roth alone was worth the price of admission)
5) Beneath


1. Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972) – This is my favorite by far. Great use of a limited, pre-made, functional environments to create a believable futuristic police-state environment. I also love brutalist architecture, and you get to see great examples of it that actually exist and are used! Most of it was filmed at a business park UC Irvine. You also really get to see the apes riot, which is fun.
Planet of the Apes (1968) – I just put it 2nd because it is the original.
Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) – I thought it was cool to see a different, secret part of life in the Planet of the Apes world. Did anyone else notice the nods to this in the new movie?
Rise of the planet of the Apes (2011) – I liked it because James Franco and it was based off of my favorite movie, although the coolest elements (the sets) were not there.
Dawn of the planet of the Apes (2014) – This was a gripping, intense movie. There were also a lot of parts that I found funny, but no one else in the theater seemed to. A little too video-game tropey for me though.
Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973) – As I recall, I think I thought this was too dark and scary. The 2014 version is based off of this. The ending is nice but totally cheesy.
Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971) – I don’t really remember this one except for the end, but re-reading the plot – it sounds cheesy as hell. I remember the end was really sad and too violent :(
did not see 2001 version


I LOVE the whole series, but my list would be

1) PotA 1968 (in a movie series it is all but impossible for any movie to replace the original. Even if it is a better movie–if– the original is the innovator and originator and nothing beats that IMHO.)
2) Rise. Maybe not as well-made of a movie as Dawn but, to me, far more satisfying and exciting. It also is far more an enjoyable movie as Dawn is not just pessimistic but dreary throughout.
3) Dawn. Great f/x, very moving. But not as much action as was warranted, too much talking in static shots (Jason Clarke packing his bags, Jason Clarke writing in a book, the boy from Let Me In drawing), and the next battle is the one we want to see. I would have liked to see more scenes with the humans dealing with what has happened to humanity and struggling to prevent anything worse, more action with real consequences and 20 less minutes of talking and the opening hunting scene.
4) Conquest- the uncut version. Not a great movie (and how could apes have evolved so quickly by 1991??), but exciting and fun and fills in much desired gaps in the Apes timeline
5) Escape. Dated and cheesy. The soundtrack has a very 70's sound and the subplots of feminism and the shopping montage bring this movie down. Great opening scene, though, and the ending would be thrilling and chilling if the scene of the chimp weren't so obviously looped.
6) it's a redo of 1, but most sequels are. A pretty bad movie but I actually love the ending (pretty ballsy–spoilers– to not only destroy all of the main characters but destroy the entire planet with it. End spoilers. The mutants, the anti-war politics and the telepathy just make this awful.
7) PotA remake- absolutely no story, weird bestial romance allusions, weird female ape make up and the grossly overrated Marky Mark. The only good things are the make up, the f/x, and the fact that the Apes series was alive again, albeit briefly.
8) Battle. Looks so cheap it could have been filmed in someone's backyard. All talk and lofty ideals drag down this entry. The big scene amounts to people in motorcycles and school buses driving through fields. The only good things are Roddy was in it and it apparently helped free American hostages in Iran.




1. The original (not just because it's a great movie, but because of it's calculated impact)
2. Dawn of (powerful in almost every way…#2 only because it borrowed–and in many ways improved–in what's gone before)
3. Rise of (very well done reimagining)
4. Beneath the (everyone here seems intent on putting this on the bottom of the list…well except for the Burton abomination…but it's so full of cheesy political allegory that I prefer it to the rest)
5. Escape from (charming and funny)
6. Conquest of (still fun, but bordering on bad without trying to be…which is what "Beneath" felt like)
7. Battle for (also still fun, but again–seems like it took itself too seriously)
8. Nothing at all.
9. Burton's Crapper

1. The Original Planet of The Apes

2. The Prequel/Reboot Series

3. The Planet of The Apes Sequels

4. The Tim Burton Series


1. Planet
2. Conquest
3. Dawn
4. Rise
5. Escape
6. Beneath
7. Burton

Deep Dish

One other bit of Apes related content you forgot is Planet of the Apes the Musical starring Troy McClure.

"I hate every ape I see. From chimpan-A to chimpan-Z"


I love how all the comments have people saying "you're wrong" and "you're crazy for putting this movie in so-so position" like somehow your opinion is more relevant or correct. It's just the author's opinion.
One of the many messages in all these movies has to do with arrogance with individuals thinking their way or opinion is the right one whether its humans or apes. It's what leads to all the conflicts in these movies.
It's alright to have an opinion but be respectful of others as well.

Mr. Peabody

Having Dawn as the best of the bunch clearly shows that this list was primarily compiled to garner interest for the new film. I agree with MIKHAIL KAUFMAN, it felt rather empty and I left the theater wondering why anyone would watch it.


Beneath is the worst of the bunch. Far too bleak and cold. At least Burton's film had really fantastic make up work and some solid set pieces. It's really the ending that truly buried the remake. The original Planet of the Apes film is yet to be surpassed. As hugely successful and acclaimed as the current film is, it is still stunning you would rank it higher than the iconic original.


I'd be with you if it weren't for Jason Clarke… a solid performance there, and the new film has the weight it's designed to have. The guy just let really rich emotional material drop into the abyss time and time again. Clive Owen? Someone, not that guy. Terrible performance.

Mikhail Kaufman

Almost totally agree with this list, but for a few exceptions.
1. Planet (Original)
2. Escape
3. Rise
4. Conquest
5. Dawn
6. Planet (Remake)
7. Beneath
8. Battle

Not sure why Dawn is so highly praised here and elsewhere. I found it rather empty from an expositional standpoint, which is mainly due to the lack of a good human element, and the apes mainly just grunting and signing. I also didn't think it set up the next film very well. It looks to be a 2-hour war scene (a la Matrix Revolutions), from this point, but we'll see. On a side-note, it seemed as though Beneath never intended to be an Apes movie to begin with, but I'm very happy it led to the often hilarious and almost bitingly satiric Escape. Also think Conquest was super heavy-handed, but very underrated.


I agree Dawn of the planet of the apes is definitely number one its the BEST MOVIE EVER!


Th newest is amazing bt I'm sorry there's NO WAY it's better than the original. Not even close. Very badly played.


they really should have stayed in the spirit of the org.. because these new ones are horrible remakes….

Brian Carlson

I guess I'm in the minority here, but I've always loved Beneath the Planet of the Apes the most of the sequels. It has its faults, but I appreciate how it starts out like a rehash of the first film until the latter half where it gets really out there. It also has to be the darkest, most nihilistic film ever released with a G rating.

teddy crescendo

"And the fellowship of the holy fall-out be amongst us" (from "Beneath"), no matter how often i hear that line (or see it written down) it always makes me fall about laughing.

jervaise brooke hamster

Tim Roth is a pile of shit specifically because he is British.

willy jerk-off

I want to bugger Nova, what a gorgeous bird she was.

jervaise brooke hamster

Roddy McDowall was a fairy, the bloody disgusting woofter.

Dr. Zaius

How can anyone pick Rise of the Planet of the Apes as a top pick? Its banal. This author has NO sense of what the Planet of the Ape films are about-which are commentaries on race, the Cold War, and America's growing military and most importantly nuclear arsenal. Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, though clearly suffering from budget shortfall, is one of the most provocative and interesting social commentaries through science fiction on slavery, Black Power, and the urban riots of the 1960s. Although the studio executives forced the director to reshoot the end with a conciliatory tone, the true end of the film is an unforgiven allegory of America's violent racial history. In a society that refused to make films on slavery, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes is a hallmark film of deep social critique. The new films are droll and boring in comparison with no real social commentary whatsoever–all action and very little thought.


You're insane if you think Dawn is the best one. Rise and Dawn are great but they're very straightforward. There's not much going on beneath the surface. Here's my list…

1. Original
2. Escape
3. Conquest
4. Dawn
5. Rise
6. Beneath
7. Battle
8. Burton's (the makeup is amazing and Elfman's score is incredible but the movie is garbage)


What about Dunston Checks In?

potion lords

Great article. I'd go with:

1. Escape ("meet baby Milo who has Washington terrified!")
2. Planet
3. Conquest
4. Battle ("Ape has never killed ape…let alone an ape child")
5. Dawn
6. Burton's version (mind blowing Tim Roth performance)
7. Beneath
8. Rise (terrible, almost no ape action)


enjoyed the review. well done. i agree with rankings 5 through 10 but I don’t know if i’d rank 1 through 4 in the same order. my first impulse is to rank planet of the apes as number 1, but i’m not sure if it’s because that’s what i really think or if it’s sentimentality speaking. honestly i don’t know if I can rank the films in the 1 through 4 position. it’d be a competition, and i don’t always want to be critical enough to rate and rank films that i really like. it would take away from the enjoyment of the films themselves. guess i’d never make it as a film critic!


The novel is the best. It is different considerably to all the films!
The best movie is the 1968 original all others fall by the wayside in comparison!

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