Book Review: Planet of the Apes: The Evolution of the Legend

author: Jeff Bond, Joe Fordham
published: 2014
pages: 256
genre: Sci-fi, Entertainment

book summary: This hardcover coffee table size book was broken into several different parts. 

Origin of Apes covers the 1963 book by Pierre Boulle’s, La Planète des singes (Planet of the Apes) and how Hollywood wanted to turn this intriguing novel into a motion picture. The chapter goes into great details about the ideas to change the plot to thrill audiences, the casting decisions, the make up of hundreds of apes, and how to make the film as futuristic as possible while misleading the audience the whole time. Like any major movie production, there is always conflicts and problems, so everyone managed to work through stuff and this iconic film was eventually released.

Evolution: Beneath the Planet of the Apes focused on the success of the original movie and how they wanted to rush back into production to make a sequel. It dug into the tension that was created by rushed situations on set and the story writing that wanted to really took the apes and humans down a different path than anyone ever expected. The studio really wanted to wow the audience again and one up the ending to the original, so they had to get creative to have a bigger surprise at the end of the sequel.

Evolution: Escape the Planet of the Apes continues the story of three apes and how the writers took the story back to its original roots, time travel. Set in the modern “future world” of 1970, the three surviving apes are celebrities yet out of the place at the same time. Since they are threatening to humans, their end is in sight, but how do they make it into a compelling movie.


Evolution: Conquest of the Planet of the Apes finally focuses in one apes journey from infancy to becoming the battle tested leader of the ape world. The overall story arc at this point of the franchise, tried to focus on the problems of every day society and incorporate them into the characters and their fictional world, yet stay true to reality.


Evolution: Battle for the Planet of the Apes brings the original franchise home and why decisions were made at that point to end things as they were. Amazingly the studios managed to pump out five movies in five-year period. Since the overall story had no where else to go at the point and after all that exhaustive work for the actors and the make up teams, the franchise came to an end.


Make up of the Apes really showcases the Oscar-winning work of John Chambers, who really changed the way make up was created and applied. Although he wasn’t involved in five movies, the ground work he laid changed the game forever.


Music of the Apes started with Jerry Goldsmith in 1968 and recently just ended with Michael Giacchino. I’ve always loved movie soundtracks and scores, so I was amazed to learn how they created a unique sound for the original movies and how they tried to keep a similar theme after all these years. Just when you think John Williams has an easy time making the Star Wars theme, you’d be surprised how much work actually goes into making movie scores, particularly ones that last a long time.

Legacy of the Apes takes you down several paths that include the short-lived TV show, the even shorter animated series, and the thousands of products that showcase the apes across several different generations. There are so many collector items out there, which made it interesting to learn about the movie props people still own, the trading cards that were really popular, and the rare figurines that were made. The chapter ends with the story behind Planet of the Apes 2001, with Mark Wahlberg and Tim Roth, where Tim Burton tried to bring the apes back to the spotlight but failed on many different levels.

Rebirth brought us the present day apes led by Caesar. Thanks to advances in technology, Hollywood were able to make these apes more realistic, allowing them to showcase emotions like humans. Rise and Dawn gave the Planet of the Apes franchise a new life and got people interested in the product again. This chapter goes into detail of how the ideas came about and how casting was just as important for the franchise to have new hope.

Ascendance really bought the franchise full circle. It was the opportunity to thank the past and look towards the future. A reminder of how far these apes have come in their own world and ours. Of course this book came out before War was released in 2017, but gave a solid send off to the future of apes whether in film, books, or collectibles.


my thoughts: Planet of the Apes: The Evolution of the Legend is the perfect coffee table book. Jammed packed with hundreds of beautiful photos and amazing in-depth stories about the apes and the people who portrayed them, this over sized book is the perfect conversation starter for those curious about apes and those who already love them. 

I’ve admired the series since Dawn in 2014 and have dug deep into the achieves to learn as much as I can about the overall series. Of course the latest trilogy, led by Caesar (Andy Serkis), is my favorite part of the ape world, but this book provided an invaluable insight on the evolution of apes through the big screen in the last 50 years.

The book is really a page turner and was tough to put down. Although I had bought it several years ago, I never really picked up until recently. There are probably a thousand more personal stories and connections to the production of this franchise that didn’t make it into the pages, but that’s what Jeff Bond and Joe Fordham tried to accomplish here, get as many stories as possible into one book. These movies were a massive undertaking for Hollywood, whether it was rubber ape masks or highly reactive motion caption suits, thousands of hours were put into the characters we’ve grown to know and love.

For any Planet of the Apes fan out there who doesn’t own this book already, this a must add to your collection. For the rest of you who may be curious about how these films came to be and the story have evolved over the years, this would be a great starting point. Whether you’ve seen the movies before or not really doesn’t matter, because this book will provide you some amazing insight that will allow you to see everything from a different perspective.

my star rating: 9 out 10

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