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Conquest of the Planet of the Apes 1972 ***

The development of the original Planet of The Apes franchise is an oddly haphazard one. The twist of the original film is so familiar it dulls the impact, the second entry (Beneath…) puts a full-stop on things by having Charlton Heston’s character Taylor blow the earth to smithereens. Charged with continuing the franchise, writer Paul Dehn ingeniously sent the apes back to 1970’s earth for the serio-comic Escape, allowing him to reboot the story from the start with 1972’s Conquest, which sees Cesar (Roddy McDowell) leading an ape revolt. Covering similar ground to 2011’s Rise, Conquest offers up a tricky racism context for the revolt, made all the more striking by the use of LA’s Century City shopping mall for the climactic massacre. Strikingly on-the-money, Conquest is a troubling and thoughtful entry in the series, although 1975’s Battle did little to further the ideas involved.

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