Every Planet of the Apes Movie, Ranked

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The Planet of the Apes The franchise has seen multiple movies, and we’ll focus on the nine cinematic entries, ranking them from worst to best. Not every piece is a gem, but sometimes when the pressure is on, this franchise can present a diamond among the rough.



We’ll dive into the plot, the metaphors presented by the films, and the significance of each film to the franchise’s legacy. Many moving moments echo throughout the franchise’s 50-year history. From the astronaut’s fateful journey into a dark future to the simian flu that ravaged Earth, we’ll glimpse a world eerily similar to our own and determine which film stands out among the others.

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9 Planet of the Apes (2001)

A science fiction film with the magnificent Tim Burton in the director’s chair. Action packed scenes featuring Mark Whalberg, Tim Roth and Helena Bonham Carter. And an embedded audience that had gone 28 years without a new entry in their beloved franchise. All of these were great ingredients in the recipe for success. But somewhere along the way we were given Planet of the Apes (2001) In place.

With the various cross-promotional opportunities available, 20th Century Fox Studios sought to capitalize on the passionate fanbase behind the franchise by rebooting the series. But the film encountered many obstacles along the way, with several visions not coming to fruition. While many hated the film’s retread time-travel plot and its twisted ending featuring the Lincoln Memorial changed to the image of an ape, the film’s biggest bright spots are what didn’t. product. We had almost seen a cheesy Planet of the Apes movie where Arnold Schwarzenegger helped teach apes to play baseball, taking them to Yankee Stadium.

Related: Planet of the Apes Movies In Order: How To Watch In Chronological Order & By Release Date

8 Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)

The upcoming first sequel would fail to pursue one of the most compelling plot threads. Charlton Heston did not want to return to the series and only agreed to return if his character was killed off. To assuage the request, the team had introduced Taylor’s character in the opening scene, only to write him off until the film’s climax.

We are then treated to a retread of the events of the first film, with another astronaut captured after the death of his crew and discovering what life is like on this future Earth. The plot of this film wouldn’t occur until the third act, where we are treated to the revelation that there are mutated humans who have survived underground all this time. The humans are determined to wipe out the monkeys and start setting off a doomsday bomb. This decision would shape the future of the franchise. And the future of the franchise was between the paws of the monkeys.

seven Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)

This movie would call the end of the franchise. Long after the apes’ initial takeover of Earth, Caesar raised a family and became a tough, diplomatic leader in the aftermath of the seizure. This film begins with a reminder to Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)with the revelation of scarred and mutated humans living in the Forbidden City.

Recalling a less than ideal film might not have been the nail in the coffin, but the film would start to drag its feet. The human characters had lost interest, and the only positive message that came out of the film was that it was still possible for people to coexist peacefully, even if great effort had to be made. This post also comes with a sad footnote stating that the apes never really gave up their guns, even 600 years after the events of the film.

6 Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

The first sequel in the reboot trilogy would continue the trend of ditching any human characters that may have garnered interest and keeping the focus on Caesar. Malcolm would be the new human protagonist attempting to repair a hydroelectric dam to restore power to the human-populated town. Caesar would diplomatically allow this to happen as long as humans surrender their weapons in ape territory.

Koba would disapprove of this and commit treasonous actions to stir up the fires of war. While Caesar would ultimately help Malcolm and his family survive Koba’s rage, the damage was already done. Caesar would disown Koba and allow him to fall to his death. Before leaving Malcolm and his family behind, Caesar would warn them that the humans would not forgive the apes for Koba’s actions. And even if he doesn’t want war, it happens.

5 Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971)

Writing a way to continue the franchise after literally destroying it, audiences are faced with the revelation that the apes Cornelius and Zira had escaped just before the planet’s destruction and traveled back in time to 1973. Facing judgment from humans who cannot understand the advancement of these intelligent simians, Cornelius and Zira would face prejudice.

When it is discovered that Zira is pregnant, humanity takes fright and insists on aborting Zira’s baby. Zira and Cornelius would escape. After being discovered, Zira and Cornelius would flee to a ship but be shot down along with the child Zira was carrying. It would be revealed that Zira had swapped her baby with a circus monkey’s baby. Originally named Milo, the circus owner will rename the child in the next film to Caesar.

4 Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)

This film would show Caesar raised in a world where monkeys were enslaved. But it would also provide significant historical events within the franchise’s lineage, depicting Lisa as being the first talking monkey in this timeline. It would also show that Caesar finally determined that enough was enough and the apes had to take a stand.

His appeal was to lead to the murder of soldiers. When this cut was shown at a preview of the film, audiences were put off by the graphic displays of violence and the dark ending. Through the edit, after Caesar calls for the death of mankind, Lisa utters her first word, “No!” Caesar would hear this and ask his army to stand down, stating that they weren’t human, but they could afford to be human.

3 War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)

The most recent entry in the franchise would see the Simian Flu evolve. While initially the disease that gave the apes their intelligence would wipe out large swaths of humanity, throughout the film we discover that the humans who survived have now become mute. There would be several callbacks to the franchise’s past, with the first mute woman the Apes encountered being named Nova.

Seeing difficult subject matter such as the struggle for freedom and the fear of an ever-encroaching disease, this film would prove to be one of the darkest entries in the franchise. Caesar having to deal with the loss of one of his sons and his wife, his resolve is strengthened as he leads a search for an oasis. Having succumbed to wounds during the war, Caesar would eventually be laid to rest with the promise that his young son, Cornelius, would know his father’s stories.

2 Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

This entry has a solid hold on the No. 2 spot, thanks in large part to its place as the start of a new trilogy. Released almost 40 years after the original film, The Ascension of the Planet of the Apes (2011) would serve as an introduction to a whole new generation. Telling an original story about the rise of the apes and the beginning of the fall of mankind, audiences were able to experience iconic moments for the first time, as their parents had done before.

One of the best moments to feature is when Dodge Landon (named after Taylor’s fellow astronauts killed in the original film) attempts to harass Caesar with a stun baton. Caesar would become the first monkey able to speak after opposing Dodge. As Dodge recited the classic phrase, “Get your stinky paws off me, you filthy monkey.”, Caesar shouted, “No.” The powerful message would be spread and mankind would begin to be infected when the deadly simian flu circulated around the world as a carrier entered a crowded airport.

Related: Planet of the Apes: Why Matt Reeves’ Trilogy Deserves More Love

1 Planet of the Apes (1968)

The original movie that started it all. As the astronauts travel to find out what’s really going on in the galaxy, they are taken to a planet where intelligent, talking apes rule the Earth, enslaving mute humanoids. Only one astronaut would survive this perilous journey. Taylor would be captured by the apes and interrogated, as a human of his intellect was alien to this world. Taylor would befriend the chimpanzee scientists, Corneilius and Zira, who believe there is evidence in the Forbidden Zone that human civilization predates the time of the apes on this planet.

After a short confrontation with Dr. Zaius, Taylor is allowed to leave with Nova, a mute woman he had befriended along the way. But before leaving, Dr. Zaius warns Taylor that he may not like the answers he seeks. Not far from the city of the monkeys, Taylor will discover the Statue of Liberty, buried in the sand. Finally realizing his situation, Taylor begins to lament the folly of mankind. In an infamous scene that sent shivers down the audience’s spines, Taylor shouted, “You maniacs! You blew it all up! Shit! God damn you all to hell!” With multiple quotes and scenes parodied to date, the original film cemented its place at the top of the franchise.

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