A decade after the Ape revolution and the war which has destroyed much of the planet, Caesar (Roddy McDowall) leads a small community of Apes and humans. While he tries to maintain a delicate peace between the two species (especially the aggressive Gorillas), a threat builds from the still vengeful humans who inhabit the wrecked city's contaminated underground.
The fifth and final gasp in the series of talking-ape movies that has long since abandoned its satirical verve and Charlton Heston. The only survivor in the cast list is Roddy McDowall, but now he’s playing the son of his famous rubber-masked hero Cornelius. What does remain is a limp and humourless B-movie that really hasn’t got its ideas to line up.
On the one hand we have the prattling chimps and orang-utans debating philosophy and whether it is better to live in harmony with humans or just have-done and enslave them. The gorillas make their views in no uncertain terms, but they are still just here to be hulking, snarling bad guys on horseback. There is way too much talking going on, as if the film is struggling to find a clever point, aware what the series has achieved. But to no avail. It just forces the plot to become increasingly knotted up with Caesar trekking to the previously nuked mutant city to find a video message from his parents, and the gorillas dropping his spying son from a high branch.
Meanwhile, a new gang of mutant madmen, another set of bad guys led with some fervour by Severn Darden’s maniacal leader, prepare to eradicate the highly-synapsed Simian population, just so we can get to the battle bit of the title. J. Lee Thompson, who should know his way around a straight-up war-movie as the man behind The Guns Of Navarone, but neither he, nor his screenwriters, can find any good reason for keeping the franchise hobbling along. Even the action, when it finally turns up, is clunky and repetitive, limited by a reduced budget, a problem that horrifyingly also afflicts the vital ape make-up now far more restrictive and unconvincing than it was five years previously. The end was nigh.
Despite seemingly doing its best to tear down the integrity of the rest of the series with a wrecking ball, it fortunately can't even manage that. Largely devoid of any charm or intelligence that made other Apes films entertaining, this one should be buried in the Forbidden Zone.