This side story takes Planet of the Apes and turns the franchise into a set of crucial decisions. The only input is pressing left or right to make a selection. Occasionally, X performs an action. Instead of merging film and videogames into a potentially derivative action shooter, Last Frontier attempts something different.
Where a sweeping camera to a character’s back indicates a segue to a shooting gallery in other games, Last Frontier keeps the story moving. It’s not often with grand production values – Last Frontier looks wonderful at a peak, but chokes on spectacle and in keeping up with Hollywood-tier effects. Often, Last Frontier appears to be dying on screen, limiting the potential emotion as the eye is drawn to smeared, still loading textures or failed sound sync.
Key to Planet of the Apes, in any media, at any time, is a story of bigotry and hatred. Intelligent apes fight against their human oppressors, the latter worried about being replaced. Humans stand-in for anti-immigration, nationalist, white supremacists. That’s the success here, and done without aimless exchanges of gunfire. A small town comes in contact with an ape tribe, leading to distrust and ample war. Last Frontier lets this play out in a multitude of ways; that’s why Planet of the Apes so fits this concept. Examining the situation through a series of moral consequences (both sides draw nearer to starving as winter begins spreading a chill) can take this narrative a studio-locked, happy ending Apes film cannot. It’s easy to slide both sides into hatred, and with dire consequences. That’s unconventional popcorn storytelling. Directing Last Frontier there is engaging.
What’s missing in production cleanliness and A-tier performances is lifted by Planet of the Apes still potent allegorical weight. Not to the tier of 1972’s Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, a fierce take on Malcolm X’s more radical civil rights platform, but still a worthy Apes for a period of fierce anti-immigrant rhetoric. The apes only want to eat; so too do the humans. Likely, division is the only possible outcome, and with it, certain death. That’s a tale worth enduring behind any technical gaffes.