August 04, 2011

The Planet That Went Ape

I've been a fan of the Ape movies ever since I was a little boy. And why not? They had it all for a budding science fiction fan: space travel, time travel, intelligent apes, Armageddon ... so, I just may have to venture out and catch the new Rise of the Planet of the Apes which comes out tomorrow.

But now -- because no one demanded it!! -- here is your guide to the Ape movie franchise, just so you'll have some inkling of what's happening in the new flick (if you don't already, that is).

PLANET OF THE APES (1968)
Why it's cool: The ultimate catch-you-off-guard twist ending, superb Cold War-era moralizing, classic catch phrases, Chuck Heston in his heydey, and the very hot Linda Harrison as Nova.

Why it blows: It doesn't! Although you might have a few in-depth questions like "Why was their spacecraft so damn small for an interstellar voyage?"

BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES (1970)
Why it's cool: Funky human mutants living beneath Earth's surface worship a doomsday weapon, and Linda Harrison is back as Nova.

Why it blows: Totally unnecessary, really; gratuitous Chuck Heston appearances. And a cobalt bomb is not a doomsday bomb because of devastating megatonnage -- it's deadly because it produces extremely long-lasting radiation. Thus, the Earth would not blow up at film's end.

ESCAPE FROM THE PLANET OF THE APES (1971)
Why it's cool: Roddy McDowell and Kim Hunter are terrific as Cornelius and Zira who've been hurled back in time to present-day Los Angeles (1973, that is) after using Taylor's (Chuck Heston) repaired spaceship to escape the destroyed Earth (from Beneath). Lots of humor and a neat continuum tie-in make for a cool story.

Why it blows: How in the hell did Cornelius and co. salvage Taylor's ship, let alone repair it and get it flight-worthy? The apes were essentially at the technological level of the 16th century!

CONQUEST OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (1972)
Why it's cool: At the very least shows how the hell apes came to rule the planet in the first place: The intelligent offspring of Cornelius and Zira (from Escape) lives a hidden life until adulthood, and then leads the ape revolution against an oppressive fascist [human] state in 1991; apparently good enough to spark a 2011 remake (Rise).

Why it blows: A limited budget hampers better plot development by limiting the scenery to just one city; more explanation of how America (and elsewhere) became fascistic would've been nice; how does one smart ape lead a revolution with all the other apes -- who're dumb?

BATTLE FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES (1973)
Why it's cool: Only redeeming facet: Shows that time is not immutable. Apparently, Caesar (Cornelius and Zira's child) changes the future by establishing a society where apes and humans live in harmony.

Why it blows: Talk about stretching things just to make more cash. This flick is ten times more unnecessary than Beneath. The "battle" scenes totally suck, the scenery of the nuked city is cheesy beyond belief, and well, everything else.

PLANET OF THE APES (2001)
Why it's cool: A remake 33 years later? Sure, why not? Better make-up and special effects!

Why it blows: It didn't work. The plot sucked and we didn't see anything novel or inventive save, perhaps, the ending. Which, by the way, I thought would be tied in to the coming Rise. But apparently not.

RELATED: Check out MSNBC.com's "Best and Worst" of the Planet of the Apes.


YOU MANIACS!! YOU MADE ANOTHER APE FILM!!!


Posted by Hube at August 4, 2011 08:21 PM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

As a friend likes to put it, it's the only movie series where the budget went down as the series went on. By the last movie, actors in crowd scenes were wearing plastic ape pullover masks.

Posted by: Paul Smith at August 4, 2011 08:58 PM

Very true, Paul! Look carefully at the latter films' extras -- the masks are pathetically obvious!

Posted by: Hube at August 4, 2011 09:00 PM

I liked the first remake, but only because the apes acted more like real apes. When they lost it and come after you they especially let their inner ape out.

The best part of the second movie of the original series was the gorilla general. I can't remember his name, but he played Inspector Lugar in Barney Miller. His voice is instantly recognizable.

You left out the suck-ass television series.

By the way, to me one of the most compelling parts of the novel was the scene at the stock exchange. I never could figure why they never worked that scene into any of the films.

Posted by: ThePaganTemple at August 5, 2011 12:27 AM