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Planet Of The Apes: Original Vs New Franchise!

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Written by Owen Maxwell A classic series rebooted to make a hugely successful new one, now we're going to compare the to and find out which is best. WatchMojo presents the showdown of New Planet of the Apes Franchise VS The Original! Which one will take the top spot? Watch to find out! Watch on WatchMojo: Big thanks to MattW128 for suggesting this idea, and to see ho WatchMojo users voted, check out the suggest page here: WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Mindblowing+Planet+of+the+Apes+Reboot+Facts

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These damn dirty apes sure have some cinematic staying power. Welcome to, and in this installment of Versus, we’re pitting the old “Planet of the Apes” franchise against the new to see which is superior.

Round 1: Backstory

Both “Planet of the Apes” franchises follow the clash between intelligent apes and humans, with each rooted in the 1963 Pierre Boulle novel, “La Planète des Singes.” We first get to see this battle four movies into the original franchise: in the futuristic police state of 1991, a plague kills all traditional pets, leaving apes as a replacement. But thanks to their ability to learn, they quickly become furry slaves to their human masters. After the super-intelligent Caesar is ripped away from his loving circus family, he sets his sights on revenge, secretly training his indentured brothers to fight back. Ultimately, this story – from “Conquest of the Planet of the Apes” – is the catalyst for the events in the rest of the movies in this franchise.

Taking a much more chronological route, the modern franchise focuses on how the apes gain control from the first movie. The new Caesar is the son of a medically enhanced ape, and he only grows more intelligent thanks to the side effects of an experimental Alzheimer’s drug. Though he was raised by scientist Will, Caesar is thrown into captivity after violently protecting Will’s father in public, where he’s aggressively bullied by a zoo guard. Witnessing how humans mistreat his kind, Caesar works out a way to escape and enhance the intelligence of the rest of his species, ultimately leading a battle between apes and humans and guiding the apes to form their own society.

Both fascinating and unique tales in their own right, each of these uprisings has powerful moments. But the modern Caesar’s more grounded origins, told as a tight story about real apes fighting back after years of oppression, makes the new series stand tall.

WINNER: Original Franchise 0 / New Franchise 1

Round 2: Commentary

While the sci-fi exterior may’ve thrown some viewers off the scent, the original films pack in so much commentary it’s almost overwhelming. Tackling race relations of the era, the majority of these movies feature apes in the place of human bigots – but even so, it’s a shocking reflection of the real world. The sequels pull no punches in their representations of slavery and the mistreatment of African-Americans. Going on to explore how power and fear corrupts, as well as the dangers of government and war, the original “Planet of the Apes” movies never miss a chance to satirize our world.

Updating its critiques for the new century, the reboot franchise focuses its commentary on humanity’s crimes and weaknesses in more modern and broader terms. Taking a pretty easy swing at the animal testing industry, the first film not only slams the inherently destructive and cruel nature of the business, but also makes for a terrifying worst-case scenario for scientific experimentation on the whole. Casting the rest of its shade not only at humankind’s potential for evil, but also on the idea that absolute power corrupts absolutely, the newer films hit a universal note that’s hard to ignore.

As accessible and modern as the newer films are in their commentary, they never seem to cut as deep on as many timely issues as the originals. The OG franchise wins this one.

WINNER: Original Franchise 1 / New Franchise 1

Round 3: Villains

Given that there are five films in the original franchise, and those five films stretch across centuries, there’s ample opportunity for different kinds of evildoers. In the 1968 original, Dr. Zaius is a defender of false science and religion, commanding respect and power as the series most memorable villain. Though he appears in the second film, for the most part the antagonists throughout the subsequent sequels are constantly changing, and mostly take the form of faceless, power-hungry groups rather than specific individuals. With the exception of a couple of cruel goons and the bloodthirsty gorilla Aldo, the desire for power is the biggest threat in the series.

The villains of the reboot films are anything but faceless. In “Rise,” Steven Jacobs’ greedy quest to produce a profitable drug ultimately causes the downfall of humankind. On a lesser scale, though no less horrific, animal caretaker Dodge’s torture of apes is sadistic – especially considering his job. But perhaps the reboot franchise’s most interesting villain is the damaged warmonger Koba: he’s been abused by humans for too long and now, he won’t stop until all humans are dead, even going out of his way to ruin the strained peace between man and ape.

Even though Dr. Zaius is one of the franchise’s most famous characters, and the original series had no shortage of evil on either side of the human/ape struggle, the newer franchise has the more defined villains, making them not only memorable baddies but more compelling as characters as well.

WINNER: Original Franchise 1 / New Franchise 2

Round 4: Climactic Moments

We could argue that the shocking Statue of Liberty reveal at the end of “Planet of the Apes” is a strong enough climax to win this round on its own, but the original franchise offers so much more. Regardless of the varying quality of the sequels, the original film was followed up by the shocking revelation that a race of humans with telepathic powers survived underground. Of course, the dystopian ape uprising was as dark, explosive and surprising a finale as many modern films can muster. But perhaps most surprising was the series’ finale, which pits ape-against-ape, and in the process makes them seem more human than we ever could have imagined.

The reboot franchise is competing with movies that made cinema history, but it doesn’t dare tread the same ground, carving out its own iconic moments instead. Given that the apes’ intelligence was increasing, it was a matter of time before one of them spoke, but Caesar’s show stopping “No!” moment is so pivotal it takes the air right out of the room. The sudden plot-shifting kills, perpetrated by Koba, set both sides on the warpath and truly blindside the audience. And the sequel ends darkly by subverting the original ape-on-ape fight, as Caesar rejects Koba and allows him to fall to his death.

The earthly twist carries the original franchise far, but the new series brings handfuls of memorable movie moments in fewer movies. However, given the consistently powerful scenes throughout the old series, and the famous climax that put the franchise on the map, the original franchise takes this one.

WINNER: Original Franchise 2 / New Franchise 2

Round 5: The Sequels

With five movies in the franchise, the original series boasts more films (at least, so far), but that doesn’t necessarily ensure quality. Although it was a box office hit, critics said the original series fell pretty flat with its second outing, “Beneath the Planet of the Apes.” The next installment – “Escape from the Planet of the Apes” – was well received critically, with the time travel and racial conflict themes earning greater focus. In “Conquest of the Planet of the Apes,” the fourth film, we finally see the ape uprising in all its glory. But the fifth film, “Battle for the Planet of the Apes,” is almost universally considered the weakest link, featuring strong social commentary but a feeble plot.

The 21st century “Planet of the Apes” franchise may have fewer sequels, but that means fewer chances to dilute the quality. The second film, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” was considered a strong follow-up to “Rise,” with a star-studded cast, excellent effects and surprisingly deep emotion. In fact, the second film encapsulates various elements from the original series to great effect, bringing them together into a tighter and more interesting package. We get all sides of the story: no hero is without flaw, no villain is without fair motivation – and the battles don’t disappoint either. Moving the story forward believably while telling a personal and (ironically) human story, “Dawn” is a solid sequel in the new franchise.

Numbers can only take you so far, and with only a couple of decent sequels in its canon, the original franchise earns mixed reviews compared to the new franchise’s strong sequel.

WINNER: Original Franchise 2 / New Franchise 3

Taking it by a score of 3 to 2, the New Franchise evolved to be the superior series as a whole.

Was our verdict bananas? Make sure to debate it in the comments and don’t forget to subscribe to for more hair-raising versus battles.

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