Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Movie Talk - Planet of the Apes Franchise

Well, I've been wanting to do something like this for a while now, but I haven't felt like it. SO, since the new POTA movie is coming out this week (still undecided if I will see it in theaters), I might as well talk about my experience with the franchise and the movies themselves. Now, I'm not some Uber-fan (I think) or an expert on the meanings of these movies, I'm just a guy who likes scifi in just about all of its forms.

The first POTA movie I saw was Beneath the Planet of the Apes (the 2nd one for short). It was on this old VHS tape which had a Godzilla movie (Gihdorah: the Three-Headed Monster), a Richard Pryor movie (Bustin' Loose), and a Police Academy movie (I guess the second movie). Unfortunately, this tape was ravaged by a crappy VCR. I saw the first movie next -- Loved it. I still do in fact. It's one of my favorite movies ever. When the 30th anniversary rolled around, I was able to see all five movies. I have the fifth one on VHS. I have also seen the so-called travesty known as the remake (it's not that bad though). Even though they may have faults, I can watch all of these movies and not be ashamed or feel like I'm wasting my time.

The Movies
Now I will talk about the movies. With all of them, I either love, like, or "meh" these films. I'm ordering them in the order they came out in because it has been a while since I've seen 2-4 and the remake, and I really can't make that kind of judgment right now. So let's start with the first and definitely the best of the six-soon-to-be-seven movies:

1. Planet of the Apes
Pros - I love just about everything about this movie. The characters are great, the costumes and makeup are awesome, and the story is well done. Basically what happens is this: 3 astronauts from the year 1972 end up 2000 years in the future on a planet ruled by apes. The humans on this planet are the primitive and can't talk. One guy (the black dude...but considering what happened to Landon, he got off easy) dies, Landon gets messed up, and Taylor (Charlton Heston) gets caught up with two kind apes (Cornelius and Zira) who want to prove that Man existed was civilized. My favorite moments of the movie are when Taylor first speaks after his throat has healed, the whole court proceedings, and, of course, the ending (which I'll spoil eventually), or I'll let the box art spoil it!

You Messed it Up!! Aw, Dang you, FOX!!

One thing I'll note is that Taylor wonders at one point in the movie if mankind ever got their act right...guess not apparently. This movie has a lot of social commentary within it (Racism, animal cruelty, evolution vs. religion, etc.), but it also is a lot of fun. I recommend it.

Favorite Quotes:
"Get your stinkin' paws off me, you damn dirty ape!"
"It's a mad house! A Mad house!" (I used to think he said manhouse when I was younger)
"Beware the beast man, for he is the Devil's pawn."
Text can't do it justice!

2. Beneath the Planet of the Apes
The story continues as another astronaut (Brent) lands and goes through most of the movie trying to find Taylor with Nova. He meets the Apes, and insanity ensues. Then, he runs into some.....mutated humans with telepathic abilities. Oh yeah, they worship an Atomic Bomb as their god and hate the apes. Oh yes. That being said, I still like this movie.

Pros: The characters (especially General "The Only Good human is ad Dead Human!" Ursus), the set design pieces, NOVA (Oh Yeah!!), and the story is okay as well.

Cons: The movie itself is more of a scifi action piece than the first one was, the unmasking scene was weird (especially when you're 6 or 7 years old), and it's the last time we see Taylor.

The movie's okay. It has its cool moments, especially at the end... I do recommend it, but remember it's not the first one.

"The Lawgiver bleeds!"
"I reveal my innermost self unto my god." (If I ever hear this in church and people start reach for their necks, I'll run out the church.)
"You want me to help you? Man is evil! Capable of nothing but destruction!"

3. Escape from the Planet of the Apes
My memory is a little fuzzy on this movie, but here I go. Cornelius, Zira, and another ape escape from Earth's future in Taylor's old ship and get sent back to the mid-1970s. There, they are found by the government and questioned. the other ape is killed by a anther gorilla (probably peeved about money or something) and C and Z are left alone. A zookeeper and doctor befriend them as they are first treated like celebrities. unfortunately, an official of the government finds out about Earth's dark future and C and Z become fugitives.

Pros: Cornelius and Zira are definitely pluses. I also like the change of scenery with this taking place in the past/present. The movie also has a little comedy in it (Talking Apes + LA = Laughs). Those laughs do stop though as the movie gets darker.


Cons: These movies love sad endings don't they? Cornelius and Zira both die (sobs), and their son , Milo aka Caesar, gets raised by KHAN!!! (okay, not really Khan, it's just a model).

All in all, this is a decent movie. It gets back to some of what the first one was going for, so I recommend it.

"Beause I loath banannas!"
"You're asking me to risk imprisonment for the sake of two fugitive apes? The answer is: a thousand times, yes."

4. Conquest of the Planet of the Apes
My memory is a little fuzzy on this one as well. the year is 1991. All cats and dogs have died so apes are domesticated. Caesar, now grown up and also played by Roddy McDowell, leads the charge against the human oppressors after his guardian (Khan, I don't remember the dude's name) is killed.

Pros: Roddy McDowell as Caesar, the dark, dark tone of the movie, and Apes vs. Humans. Who doesn't love that? Here we see the apes getting treated like crap, and Caesar doesn't like it one bit. So he stages a revolution using these domesticated apes to ultimately set things in motion.

As I said, it's dark.

Cons: To be honest, I don't know. I haven't seen the movie in a while.

It's still an okay film, and I recommend it.

"But now... now we will put away out hatred. Now we will put down our weapons. We have passed through the Night of the Fires. And who were our masters are now our servants. And we, who are not human, can afford to be humane. Destiny is the will of God. And, if it is man's destiny to be dominated, it is God's will that he be dominated with compassion and understanding. So, cast out your vengeance. Tonight, we have seen the birth of the Planet of the Apes!"

5. Battle for Planet of the Apes
This is the last film in this part of the franchise. the movie picks up 20(?) years later with Caesar trying to lead a village of Apes and Humans while the ancestors of those mutants from the 2nd one (without powers and masks) get ready to rage war.

Pros: Roddy McDowell as Caesar (again, he's the best thing about the last few movies), the struggle between the opposing camps, and General "We Want Guns! Guns Are Power!" Aldo aka Mr. "Ape shall not kill A!". I also have to admit that the ending, while possibly foreshadowing the events of the first movie, is actually somewhat happy.

When Statues doesn't make too much sense, but it looks cool, okay? At least he ain't bleeding.

Cons: I really don't have any. That's not to say that this is a great film, it's just I can't think of anything BAD about this film.

All in all, if you want to finish the series out, watch this film.

"An ape has killed ape! (repeats)"
"We want guns! Guns are power! Now, we get GUNS!!! (great words spoken by a not so great ape)

6. Planet of the Apes (Remake)
It's been a while but here it goes: an astronaut gets caught in a space storm and ends up on a world where the apes rule and the humans are treated like slaves.

Pros: Tim Roth as Thade (cool villain), nice mystery to the origins of the inhabitants, some social commentary, some nice action, and great costumes, make up and set pieces.

CONS: Mark Wahlburg (he's an okay actor but here he is "meh"), it's more of an action piece than a thinking movie, some acting is crappy, and that ENDING THAT DIDN'T MAKE ANY FREAKIN' SENSE!!!

Yeah, I can forgive everything in this movie except for the ending. It's pure shock value for the sake of shock value and it tries to set itself up for a sequel that never happened (though I would want to see that nonexistent movie for some dumb reason!).

Well, this pic at least looks good.

... ... ... ... ... .. .. .. . .. . ... . .

And there ends my preachment on the POTA franchise. I definitely recommend the first 5 movies if you want something different with your scifi. If you want to watch the remake, Enter At Your Own Risk. All I hope for Rise of the Planet of the Apes is that it has what makes the older movies good and none of what makes some of the older movies and the remake bad.

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