August 18, 2014

The Planet That Went Ape

With apologies to Mad magazine (the title above was originally theirs in their early 1970s satirical look at the classic Planet of the Apes films), a recent Facebook conversation with some friends made me look back on the delightful cheese that was the original Apes franchise. Timely, in a way, since the latest reboot film is doing pretty well at the box office.

THE ORIGINAL. At least the recent reboot makes a reasonable attempt to explain how apes got so damn smart. Could apes really just naturally evolve human-like inteligence in a tad over 2,000 years? C'mahn.

Wikipedia notes that Taylor (Chuck Heston) and company's ship was on a "long near-light speed voyage, during which, due to time dilation, the crew ages only 18 months." Aside from the amazing fact that such a vessel was constructed in the late 1960s(!), ya'd think, with such amazingly advanced technology that there'd be a computer on board which would have noted the course the ship had traversed over two millennia. I mean, really? Taylor and crew had no idea they were back on Earth?

I can buy that New York wasn't totally obliterated in the nuclear holocaust; the Russkies largely relied on bombers for their nukes in the 60s, and their missiles weren't very accurate. Hence, don't shake your head at the iconic final scene with Taylor and Nova at the Statue of Liberty.

BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES. Somehow the same interstellar mishap happens twice!! This time, James Franciscus has to deal not only with the intelligent, human-hating apes, but mutated humans with powerful mental abilities.

Riddle me this: If these humans have such mental powers, what the hell happened to their smarts? Worshiping a nuclear bomb? Making masks for their radiation scarred selves?

Biggest "C'MAHN!" of the film: The fact that the doomsday bomb had a cobalt jacket doesn't mean it has the destructive power to crack the Earth into a million pieces. Because of Beneath, for the longest time this is what I thought a "cobalt bomb" could do . Wrong. A cobalt jacketed device "merely" means that its radiation becomes incredibly deadly -- it has a very long half-life. In nuclear war vernacular, it's sometimes dubbed "salting the Earth" because radioactive cobalt will kill everything it can reach, and will continue to do so for loooooong time.

ESCAPE FROM THE PLANET OF THE APES. Let's just start and end with this: How the f*** do Zira, Cornelius and their pal dredge up Taylor's original spaceship, repair it, figure out how it works ... let alone fuel it and launch it into space?? And follow Taylor's course perfectly in reverse??

But hey -- it makes the case for the "circular" timeline used in the Apes film franchise. However head-scratching it may be.

CONQUEST OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. Yeah, humans turned to apes when a mysterious "space virus" came down and killed off dogs and cats. Just in time for smart ape Caesar (the offspring of Zira and Cornelius from Escape) to lead 'em in revolt. Very convenient.

BATTLE FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES. Either this flick is pointless because we already know the ultimate outcome (especially due to a scene at the very end), or it means that the supposed "circular" timeline is anything but.

Anyone recall the (admittedly silly) ending scene where the statue of Caesar begins crying? This is after a line by the "Lawgiver" ape says "Who knows about the future? Perhaps only the dead." This to me says "Apes defeat humans, Earth blows up, this movie was pointless."

Posted by Hube at August 18, 2014 05:16 PM | TrackBack

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