Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

“After a wonderful quick vacation getaway to Chicago, I returned to my usual movie theater for the latest Apes installment. I actually had a chance to see this while I was away, but the exhausting events of the day didn’t make me optimistic about being awake and alert. Also, I had to come back to pick up the “”Hakuna Matata”” shirt I’d forgotten the last time I was there from the Lost and Found. So I rewatched Begin Again (since I correctly guessed my buddy would absolutely love it) and returned home for Apes. It was a solid plan.

Solid movie too. We pick up exactly where we left off with Rise. The end credits virus sequence opens the film with a bit of an upgrade. More detail and insight into the devastation of the world and a peek further down the timeline. Then we jump ahead about a decade. While the human world is now desolate, the apes have thrived. They live a blissful and peaceful life that is threatened when the surviving humans find them.

There was one thing that stood out to me as truly incredible. Caesar is a wonderfully complex character, among the best we’ve seen on screen in recent years at least. I’m not even qualifying that with “”for an animal”” or “”for a CGI”” charcater. I mean at all. Certainly more than any character you’ll find in a summer blockbuster. Andy Serkis breathes such life into him with a technology that is so advanced that you don’t think of him as an ape, but as a fully fleshed out being. The internal conflict, the pressures of leadership, the familial obligations, everything is there. I’d say that other summer films wish they could hit that level, but the truth is few even bother trying.

The main theme seemed to be the duality of man. And of ape for that matter. You can’t classify all men as purely good or purely evil. One person with bad intentions can offset the balance and destroy everything. The apes learned this and the humans learned this.

All that weight PLUS the suspense you’d expect from a popcorn film. My heart was nervously pounding in my chest, particularly thru the last act. I didn’t always know where the story was going to go and that excited and even scared me. I’ve become jaded by predictable action sequences, but these were stunning. Sure, my general love of primates may have had something to do with that, but it felt like each shot was carefully thought out and not just thrown together to look cool.

We’re certainly progressing the prequel story in a very consistent manner that’s exciting to follow. While I know where things will ultimately end up in the far far future, I can’t wait to see the next few steps in getting there

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

“This was the first of the Apes films I’d ever seen. I’d actually blogged it before. I hit most of the general details of the film then, so no need to rehash. What I was missing at the time was the context with the rest of the franchise. I think I actually hadn’t missed too much.

Okay so it’s not so much the whole rest of the franchise. Except for the nod to revolutionary Caesar in the later films, the continuity really only goes thru the first two movies in the future. It doesn’t so much fit in with what happened when the chimps came back to present earth. That said, I was really impressed with the film as an individual piece of cinema when I first saw it, and I’m equally impressed with how it fits into the mythology.

The film establishes where the intellegence came from that led to the apes evolution, and it also deals with what wiped out much of the human population. That whole transition is pretty seamless. I remember that I had expected the ape revolution to be the human killer. The virus thing during the credits was a genius curveball. I’m really excited to see where that goes in the next installment.

As far as references, I’d caught the obvious dialog one before. There were a few more lines (strangely also given to Tom Felton) that were a bit more below the radar. And actually, in trying to find said dialog, I found that the full sequence actually gets an homage, but the lines are split up elsewhere. There was also some of the names. I knew from the way they’d referred to Bright Eyes that name must have had some significance. Now I understand. There was also a “”Cornelia”” thrown in there quickly.

Well, it’ll be a few days until I can complete this project with the prequel sequel. Until then, how about a fun clip of Andy Serkis.”

Planet of the Apes (2001)

“This remake/reimagining/reboot doesn’t have the best reputation. I can sorta see why. I’m just having trouble getting into it.

This isn’t so much a remake in that it has very little in common with the original. There’s a planet filled with apes. That’s about it. Well okay, the (d)evolution is still there. Sort of. We’re not on future earth. Pretty much everything else is different.

Mark Wahlberg is Leo, and airman and astronaut. He flies his spaceship into some unknown space anomaly and finds himself on the planet of the apes. In one of the few sequences that does sort of mimic the original, he’s rounded up with wild humans and taken to the ape civilization. Instead of it being all about him trying to save himself, he tries to become the human messiah, saving all of them from the apes. Oh yeah, the humans can talk this time.

Like I’d complained with the sequels, all the weight is gone from this one. The way the storyline is playing out, we’re completely losing the ethical dilemas, or at least dampening them. It’s just a thin story that’s set up to give us a lot of action. Basically it’s like Tim Burton (director) is a little kid playing with the action figures from his favorite movie. It’s a little watered down, but you can tell he at least had fun, even if no one else watching would enjoy it.

There are a few positives. I really like the twist with what happened to Leo’s home spaceship and where the apes evolved from. We’ve also got a good cast of apes in some fantastic makeup: Tim Roth, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Clarke Duncan, Paul Giamatti. All unrecognizable except for their unmistakable voices (especially the latter two). Oh and it does get points for their rework of the original’s most famous line

But when it comes down to it, basically this movie has no reason to exist. Well other than that’s what introduced Helena Bonham Carter to Tim Burton, who went on to form a fabulous partnership in life and film.”

Battle for the Planet of the Apes

“Last of the originals. I gotta admit, I’m not really paying much attention to this one.

So the ape slaves have been freed and are now off educating themselves and developing their own society. We meet the people who will eventually become the nuclear guardian people things (I think). We see some groups of the apes start to become more violent and agitated. This is really where the societies break down into the base forms that we discovered originally.

It occurred to me that it seems strange to watch these last three films when the ultimate conclusion came in the second one. I mean, I guess that’s the point of a prequel, but it’s still a bit odd when the final conclusion is complete annihilation of the planet.”

Conquest of the Planet of the Apes

“I’m loving how different each sequel has been. Most franchises suffer from sequel fatigue. The next one mirrors the first too closely, doesn’t add anything to the story, and the audience gets bored. With Apes, each one is very different, but always the next logically progression of the story. We land on the ape planet and then find out what it is. Someone else follows our pioneer and then the planet is destroyed. Apes escape and return to our world where they’re misunderstood and killed. Now their hidden child has grown up in a world that treats apes as slaves and he leads a revolution.

I hadn’t realized until I saw the end credits role that Roddy MacDowall was back, but this time playing Caesar, son of Cornelius. Hard to tell under all that makeup, which has also improved with each film. At the end of the previous film, when we thought we saw Zira sacrifice her child, she had actually switched him beforehand with a baby chimp at the circus. The baby grows up while the rest of the planet slowly starts to adopt non-evolved apes as servants. Once Caesar ends up among them, we know an ape of his intelligence is not gonna stand for that for long.

I wasn’t following this as closely, but I still appreciate where the story went. None of these follow ups have had the same impact as the original, but I haven’t lost interest yet. Really excited to see it all come together with the prequel, although it’s already becoming apparent that the prequels ignore the sequels”

Escape from Planet of the Apes

“Charleton Heston was so set on there not being anymore sequels, he was the one who suggested that Beneath end with Taylor detonating the nuke. Entire Earth go boom. Problem solved. He didn’t count on our two most beloved apes, Zira and Cornelius, sneaking onto a spaceship with (with third, Dr Milo) and finding their way back to their past/our present earth.

Ignore the bad science for getting them there, and you’ve got a pretty brilliant continuation of the story. Now the tables are turned. The apes are the misunderstood creatures being studied. Yet their welcome once their intelligence is discovered proves to be quite different from Taylor’s. For a time at least.

I’m kinda loving this one. Zira and Cornelius are wonderful characters, so I am more than happy to follow them around. I love how fun and quirky they are (“”Does the other one speak?”” “”Only when she lets me!””). By this point in the franchise, Roddy MacDowall and Kim Hunter have learned how to be incredibly expressive behind their thick makeup. Absolutely sympathetic characters, and I thoroughly enjoyed following their earthly adventures, as grim a turn as they may have taken.”

Beneath the Planet of the Apes

“And we pick up exactly where we left off. Actually, more like 5-10 min before where we left off. Instead of a quick recap voiceover montage, we get the last few min of Planet replayed at the beginning. Just in case you forgot what happened. One last altercation with the Apes then Taylor and Nova ride off into the sunset to discover exactly where they are.

We soon pick up with Taylor look alike, Brent. He lands on this same future earth chasing after Taylor in hopes of rescuing him. He finds Nova, who was separated from Taylor when he found a mysterious fire and chasm. Brent and Nova find their way back to Zira in the ape city. Stuff happens and they end up hiding underground. Underground they find a telepathic race of humans with a nuke they’ve been holding onto (and worshipping) just in case they need it.

I like the Brent/Taylor/Nova storyline, as far as the path taken for them to find each other. I’m just not sold on the whole telepathic humans thing. This was certainly more of your typical scifi type of story, and it makes me sad that they left out most of the weight from the first one. The first was brilliant because of the evolution allegory (is that the right word?). Now I’m a bit leery of the next films in the series, but at least I know there’s light at the end of the tunnel in the form of a kick ass prequel. I’m still excited to have more of the context for that.”

Planet of the Apes

“This is sort of a spontaneous mini project. I’d had this movie on my watch list for ages, but never put much effort into acquiring it. With the new installment coming out later this summer, there’s a new BluRay collection of the original set of films that included movie cash for the new one. I figured why not. I’d watch the first one, and if I liked it, then I’d watch the next one and so on. I could stop at any time. What I didn’t expect was how much I absolutely loved the first one. I need to know what happens next and get a better understanding of how it all fits together with the prequels. Seeing as how I’m just wrapping up the first round of the movie wall initiative, now’s a good time for a mini project. I’m hoping I can get thru these all in the next two weeks.

My perception of this film was always “”old scifi””. Outdated effects and small plot with over the top actors. I didn’t expect it to be so deep and layered. The initial suspense was pretty cool, but where I was sold was once we started meeting the apes and learning their culture. The parallels with debates still on going today about evolution and science vs religion, I was just not expecting them to go there. I’m surprised that this film doesn’t have a reputation for being controversial because of all that. I suppose that in the day before internet debates you could get away with things. Now, I’m sure trolls would rip it apart.

I’m of two minds about knowing the big twist at the end. It’s on the list of best know spoilers. Hell, it’s included on one of my fave tshirts in a big collage of movie spoilers. On the one hand, it makes the debates and arguments a little more intense (and frustrating for Taylor) knowing how wrong these apes got it. On the other, I can’t even imagine the impact that reveal would have had on the audiences back in the day. It must have been mind blowing.

So great to see Charleton Heston deliver his iconic lines and get the full context of it. I hadn’t realized that there were devolved humans on the planet too, and I was absolutely captivated by Linda Harrison’s Nova. Such expressive looks, all in the eyes. I’m happy to see she continues in the series and am very excited to see her storyline play out.

Oh man, I’m so jazzed about this now!”