CraveOnline

All Nine ‘Planet of the Apes’ Movies | Ranked from Worst to Best

The Planet of the Apes film series, originally based on a novel by Pierre Boulle, has persisted more or less constantly ever since its debut in 1968, with only a few notable breaks in between remakes. They have been thoughtful, intense, silly, cheap, misguided, crazy, fun, and just about everything in between. It’s weird how resilient the series has proven to be, because it’s based on an inherently weird premise. Talking apes are, at the end of the day, meant to be at least a little silly. If they weren’t silly, at least, the poignancy of the satire wouldn’t work quite as well. And even when they’re not aiming for satire, they’re at least intense and well-constructed action films.

Also: Do the New ‘Planet of the Apes’ Movies Take Themselves Too Seriously?

War for the Planet of the Apes, the ninth film in the series, and the third in its particular continuity, is currently playing in theaters, and that, of course, has Apes fans wistful and retrospective for their overall 49-year experience with the movies. We here at Crave are, of course, no different. We love the Apes movies, we have seen them all, and we can appreciate every single one of them – yes even the bad ones – for the ambitious satires they so often aspire to be.

And, because this sort of ranking is fun, we’ve elected to rank all nine films to date, making our own declarative statement on what goes where. So read on, mere humans, and see what happened to Earth.

All Nine ‘Planet of the Apes’ Movies: Ranked From Worst to Best

Made for very little money (it looks like much of the film was shot in a public park) Battle has little to add to the series beyond a double-back on certain events of Conquest.

Image: 20th Century Fox

Although impressive visually - seriously, the ape makeup and costuming is incredible - Tim Burton's unwise remake channels 1950s sci-fi to tell a muddled allegory about slavery. 

Image: 20th Century Fox

A re-working of the events of Conquest, but using modern motion-capture special effects. It's a fun flick, and incredibly well made, but feels slight when compared to much of the series. The cheeky references to the original don't help either. 

Image: 20th Century Fox

Imagine the original, but robbed of its subtlety, and infused with a surreal weirdness that seems psychedelic for its own sake. Beneath the Planet of the Apes is fun to watch, but pretty off-putting. 

Image: 20th Century Fox

Apes find themselves on modern-day Earth, seduced by the consumer culture therein. It's a weird place for the franchise to go, but also somewhat logical. It ends on a somber note for the series. 

Image: 20th Century Fox

Also a somber affair, War for the Planet of the Apes is the most dramatically intense in the series, even if the symbolism is a a little on-the-nose (Caesar is crucified at one point; what could that mean?). 

Image: 20th Century Fox

The darkest film of the series is often called one of the best, and is surprisingly tragic when you consider that the apes being led in an uprising are actually not as intelligent as Caesar thinks they are. 

Image: 20th Century Fox

The best looking of the apes films by a wide margin - and featuring some truly impressive motion-capture performances - Dawn continues the immediate narrative of Rise with many of the same characters. Self-serious, but effective.

Image: 20th Century Fox

The original is still the best. A striking, weird, funny, and unusually poignant film that took a silly image - talking apes - and made them into a potent metaphor for humanity. It's also a pretty fun and funny flick. It's one of the best sci-fi films ever made. 

Image: 20th Century Fox
Top Image: 20th Century Fox

Witney Seibold is a longtime contributor to the CraveOnline Film Channel, and the co-host of The B-Movies Podcast and the TV podcast Canceled Too Soon. He also contributes to Legion of LeiaNerdist, and Blumhouse. You can follow him on “The Twitter” at @WitneySeibold, where he is slowly losing his mind.