Every ‘Planet of the Apes’ Movie Ranked From Worst to Best

in Movies & TV

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

20th Century Studios (The Walt Disney Company)

If there’s one franchise that has endured over the decades, it’s Planet of the Apes. Based off Pierre Boulle’s French novel, “La Planète des singes” (1963), the 1968 film became an instant classic, spawning four sequels, a live-action TV series, an animated series, and graphic novels.

And while the franchise went into hibernation for nearly 30 years, it was resurrected by visionary director Tim Burton with the remake, Planet of the Apes (2001). But the movie was panned by critics, and the franchise would receive a second reboot in 2011, from director Rupert Wyatt.

War for the Planet of the Apes
Credit: 20th Century Studios

Related: Everything You Need to Know About ‘Jurassic World: Dominion’

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), however, is a re-imagining, set before the idea of the original. And now, with its two sequels, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) and War for the Planet of the Apes (2017), both directed by Matt Reeves, it’s considered one of the best reboots.

So, the 54-year-old franchise has plenty to choose from. Perhaps you’re a fan of the originals, maybe you don’t see why people hate Tim Burton’s remake, or maybe you aren’t a fan of Matt Reeves’ entries. Either way, here are all nine Planet of the Apes movies ranked from worst to best.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Credit: 20th Century Studios

Related: The Ultimate ‘Jurassic Park’ Viewing Guide

9. Beneath the Planet of the Apes

Beneath the Planet of the Apes
Credit: 20th Century Studios

Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) follows Brent (James Franciscus) as he searches for fellow astronaut George Taylor (Charlton Heston), but ends up encountering a colony of humans who worship a nuclear bomb. Despite being a box office success, Beneath is considered the worst sequel in the original series, which is largely due to budget cuts and several major script rewrites.

Related: Here’s How ‘The Mandalorian’ Could Do a Major Time Jump

8. Battle for the Planet of the Apes

Planet of the Apes
Credit: 20th Century Studios

After war has destroyed most of the earth, Caesar attempts to rebuild the world for apes and humans —  a “Planet of the Apes”. Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973) is the final entry in the original series, but certainly not the last Apes film. Nevertheless, following a poor critical reception, it would render the franchise dormant for 28 years until Tim Burton‘s 2001 remake.

Related: Did Fans Miss This Huge Plot Twist in ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’?

7. Conquest of the Planet of the Apes

Conquest of the Planet of the Apes
Credit: 20th Century Studios

The penultimate movie in the original series, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972), turns everything on its head (despite the first film having already done so). Now, humans have turned apes into slaves, while Caesar (Roddy McDowall) leads a rebellion against the humans. Despite being a divisive entry, the film’s financial success led to a fifth and final movie in the series.

Related: All ‘Jurassic Park’ Movies Ranked Worst to Best

6. Escape from the Planet of the Apes

Escape from the Planet of the Apes
Credit: 20th Century Studios

While far from a masterpiece, Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971) is still regarded as the strongest of the four original sequels. In a bold move, the series finds itself on a contemporary Earth, and not the decimated version from the previous two movies. Fans and critics were hardly blown away, but Escape remains a solid entry in the series nonetheless.

Related: How ‘Jurassic World: Dominion’ Will Feature the Biggest Character Arc of All Time

5. Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes 

Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes
Credit: 20th Century Studios

Many fans will have you believe that Tim Burton‘s Planet of the Apes is the worst film ever, but it’s not that bad. Despite a confusing plot about time travel, and an anti-climactic third act, the film’s remarkable prosthetic make-up and its stellar cast — Mark Wahlberg (Leo Davidson) and Helena Bonham Carter (Ari) — keep you watching. Charlton Heston also has a cameo as the ape Zaius.

Related: Will Dinosaurs Rule the Earth in ‘Jurassic World: Dominion’? Here Are All the Signs it Could Happen

4. Planet of the Apes

Planet of the Apes
Credit: 20th Century Studios

Based on Pierre Boulle’s 1963 novel, “La Planète des singes”, Planet of the Apes finds Charlton Heston’s George Taylor crash-land on a world where primitive man has long been oppressed by intelligent apes. The film might not hold up as much as it used to, but it’s still an effective sci-fi classic that boasts some impressive prosthetic make-up and iconic imagery.

Related: 7 Reasons Why A Future ‘Jurassic World’ Movie Probably Won’t Have Dinosaurs

3. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Credit: 20th Century Studios

The second entry in the reboot series is perhaps one of the most ground-breaking films since Jurassic Park (1993). Matt Reeves’ Dawn of the Planet of the Apes takes motion-capture technology to a whole new level, overlaid with breath-takingly realistic CGI. While its human characters leave a lot to be desired, the apes were going to steal the show here no matter what.

Related: 5 Major Differences Between ‘Jurassic Park’ and the Novel

2. Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Credit: 20th Century Studios

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) stars James Franco (Will Rodman) and Andy Serkis (Caesar), and despite popular belief, isn’t actually a remake of the original 1968 film. The events depicted here predate the concept of a “planet of apes”, and it’s all the more thrilling for it. Caesar leads his fellow apes to revolt against the city of San Francisco, and the world will never be the same again.

Related: All the ‘Godzilla’ and ‘King Kong’ Movies Ranked Worst to Best

1. War for the Planet of the Apes

War for the Planet of the Apes
Credit: 20th Century Studios

Matt Reeves‘ second entry in the Planet of the Apes reboot series, War for the Planet of the Apes, is one of the most epic finale movies of all time. The title suggests that it’s all-out war between the apes and the humans, but the inevitable clash is wisely saved for the end, with the film mostly casting a lens over Caesar’s internal struggle, which is just as riveting as the explosive third act.

Related: 7 Major Bloopers Fans Never Noticed in ‘Jurassic Park’

In 2019, it was announced that a fourth Planet of the Apes movie is in the works. Director Wes Ball is at the helm, with most of the team behind the Apes reboot trilogy on board. Planet of the Apes 4 (TBA) will focus on a new generation of apes, while many are speculating that it will also revisit the concept of astronauts discovering a planet ruled by talking apes.

How would you rank all the Planet of the Apes movies? Let us know in the comments below!

View Comment (1)