(Captured with jetVideo)
Like all those Apes fans, I also was left scratching my head over the oracular ending of Tim Burton’s 2001 reboot of Planet of the Apes. Yes, for a long time until I finally hunted down the coherent solution thanks to Epinions.com.
Here goes the most relevant, logical explanation so far:
First a note on time travel. You must just accept the fact that the radioactive tome storm is a crazy time travel zone which spits people out into any random time depending on the needs of the screenwriter.
Here is the sequence of events as they actually happened in real time:
1) Pericles the ape heads into radioactive storm and gets stuck.
2) Davidson (Marky Mark) follows him into the storm and gets stuck.
3) The research ship follows Davidson into the storm as well.
4) The research ship emerges from the storm circa. 100 AD and crash lands on a deserted planet that is NOT Earth. (One can tell that it is not earth by the surrounding planets one sees when Davidson’s ship approaches it.)
5) The apes on the research ship were genetically altered (mentioned in an opening scene) so they are better equipped for survival on the deserted planet. Led by Semos (one of the research monkeys) the apes lead a revolt against the human space people and escape.
6) 2000 years later, the research apes have evolved and now rule the planet and use the descendants of the original humans as slaves. They also regard Semos as a god-like savior figure who will someday return to the planet to free them all.
7) At about this time, Davidson’s ship finally emerges from the radioactive time storm and he lands on the planet.
8) Here is where the main body of the film takes place.
9) Near the end of the film, Pericles finally emerges from the radioactive time storm.
10) The apes assume that Pericles is actually Semos so they all bow down and start to worship him.
11) General Thade, however decides to try and kill Davidson and Pericles, but instead gets captured by Davidson.
12) Davidson takes off away from the planet and enters the radioactive storm where he again gets stuck.
13) While Davidson is stuck in the storm, general Thade learns all about space travel by studying the crashed mothership AND the crashed space pod. He decides to take off from the planet and go after Davidson.
14) General Thade enters the time storm and emerges before Davidson does.
15) Thade arrives on Earth where he organizes a revolt against the humans. The Apes soon become masters of Earth. In honor of their general, they change the Abe Lincoln memorial to honor General Thade (the inscription on the memorial reads something like "in honor of General Thade who liberated the planet for the Apes")
16) FINALLY Davidson emerges from the time storm and lands on Earth only to find that Apes are now in control of the planet.
(Written by Konky2000 and copied from Epinions.com)
PS It could also be possible that General Thade could also have harnessed the crashed pod of Leo Davidson as he was told about it by his two aides whom he later kills apparently to keep it ‘secret’.