Charlton Heston stars in Planet of the Apes as Taylor, a NASA commander in charge of a manned space mission who crashes on a distant planet 3,000 years in the future. As the astronauts explore the terrain, they encounter a group of barbaric humans who are mute. Taylor is soon captured by a group of advanced apes who rule the planet while capturing and enslaving humans. Taylor is befriended by a mute and attractive female named Nova (Linda Harrison) who also lives as a captive to the apes.
Shockingly the apes speak English and Taylor begins to learn about their culture and society. Two ape doctors (Roddy McDowall and Kim Hunter) befriend Taylor and recognize that he is highly intelligent and capable of emotion and communication. The apes in charge are highly prejudiced against Taylor and insist he remain locked up. Taylor breaks free with Nova and must figure out how to prove he is not an uncivilized animal and somehow make peace with the apes, who struggle with the questions and conflicts of faith and science like we humans.
Planet of the Apes might be campy and almost downright silly at times, but it succeeds in creating a desolate alien planet surrounded by an inventive story. Charlton Heston is perfect in this role as a grizzled and determined warrior stranded in a strange land. The film can be interpreted a number of countless ways, but at its core it is fun escapism.
3.5 stars out of 5