Justine Elias
August 18, 2000 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Planet of the Apes: The Evolution

Current Status
In Season
Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall

We gave it a B+

With visual effects now approaching the miraculous, Planet of the Apes must seem like a hopelessly low-tech, actor-in-scary-makeup horror flick to today’s audiences. Yet the 1968 sci-fi film — which spawned four sequels, a prime-time series, and a Saturday morning cartoon — has lost none of its power to shock. Heston’s towering performance as the lost astronaut Taylor in the original may be more celebrated, but don’t overlook the subtle shadings delivered by the late Roddy McDowall, who played the compassionate chimp Cornelius in the first film and Escape From the Planet of the Apes as well as his son-liberator, Caesar, in Conquest of… and Battle for… (1970’s McDowall-less Beneath the… is the freakiest and most nihilistic of the quintet.) Even more gratifying for gorilla buffs is the exemplary documentary disc, Behind the Planet of the Apes, which delves into the making of the first great sci-fi film franchise. B+

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