If I were hard-pressed, I'd have to say in all seriousness that the only one that I'd really, honestly, rate highly is the original '68 classic, a grand movie by any standard--just the right blend of silly and serious, with one of Chuck Heston's best performances. Planet of the Apes is probably my favorite sci-fi movie of them all, perhaps exactly because it doesn't really feel like sci-fi.
With that said, I've seen several (not all) of the sequels, and all of those I've seen have their pluses and minuses, but none comes close to the original. While I know many fans love Escape, its disparate elements didn't exactly coalesce for me, and it seemed a bit too drab and dry in spite of some amusing dialogue, good performances by McDowell and Hunter, and of course a hammy Ricardo Montalbán. Still, the favorable elements I cited were enough for me to check it off for this poll, even if I wouldn't exactly call it a genuine "favorite."
The only sequel of which I'm very fond is Beneath, a ridiculous and silly movie that nonetheless is the only one that actually looks and feels like the original. Stupid plot, to be sure (rehashing the original but then taking out anything thought-provoking or Serling-esque), and a weird (one review called it "Shatner-esque") lead performance by James Franciscus, but it's a lot of goofy fun, and (again) it genuinely feels like a sequel to Planet of the Apes.
I've seen bits and pieces of the Burton version... The imagery and set-design are impressive, befitting a Burton film, but--um--it's really a mess. I, for one, could not make head nor tail of the plot, and character motivations are so muddled that I didn't know for whom (if anyone) I was supposed to root. The acting, too, is all over the place (but, then, Burton's skill has always been the visual, not the direction of actors).
I've seen Spaceballs, and it's amusing, but would you really call it a Planet of the Apes movie? Seriously?
I've also seen Rise and Dawn. The first was fine, and intriguing, though (again) it follows the pattern of calling itself an Apes movie that is nothing like Planet of the Apes. It did seem a bit too slick and polished--"Planet of the Apes Cinematic Universe"!--in that modern way, of which I'm not particularly fond. I strongly disliked Dawn, for which I felt no connection or interest. Utterly forgettable.
I strongly disliked Dawn, for which I felt no connection or interest. Utterly forgettable.
I thoroughly enjoyed Dawn (though I wish the story they had told had been bigger and more ambitious in scope) but my main problem was the ending was terribly predictable and cliche (Caesar letting Koba fall off a cliff and telling him "You are no Ape"), so it ruined the rest of the movie for me.
I have no desire to see the new one. "War" of the Planet of the Apes sound like a really lame and pointless premise. We all know who's gonna win the "war".
I never understood why "Beneath" was so disliked. I loved the ending.
Well, it’s as silly and goofy as anything, and its plot is a pure retread of the original (albeit not done as well), but it’s the only one that looks like the original, and it’s fun to watch. I’ll happily join with you and alpha128 in calling it underrated.