And other gems of wisdom from perhaps the preachiest series of films ever. But let’s not start there. (Then why did you, Bethany? Is what the fiends would say! To the bluffs! <–obligatory Simpsons quote out of the way.)
This is hard because dang, it’s five movies, y’all. (And yes, this is about five movies not the book.) But I guess we can start at the part where it seriously did NOT need to be. Like, capital negatory on the serialization, you guys. I won’t go over the first since it’s a classic, except to say, early on in the movie Senor Heston has a soliloquy that pretty much lets you know there’s a soapbox here. To be honest, it’s a little soapbox – at least in the first movie – and doesn’t interfere with the presentation of a sci-fi story.
Sigh. The same canNOT be said for Beneath the Planet of the Apes. Lemme roll my eyes around a bit. Geez. It’s not that there’s anything inherently wrong with the stance being presented – other than by grounding it so deftly in the “spirit of the 60s” the science fiction vehicle employed looks hyperbolic and extreme in relation – it’s moreso that…well, yeah, it screams counter-culture. I mean, these guys opted to leave the only planet known to support life to plummet into deep space because they were so disillusioned with the state of things. (I won’t bother going, wow, buddy, where’s your sense of social responsibility, because Mr. Heston proves at the end of BPA that despite being supposedly “anti”, he still believes a white guy decidedly over the age of 30 has the right to hit the button when he’s had enough.)
A big problem is the second movie throws a pretty REEDIC storyline at you that seemingly requires that you continue watching the series in order to have it explained… which brings me back to the audaciousness of a LOT of sombodies insisting that this thin storyline NEEDED five movies. (Did I mention the series is five movies long? That’s almost a dozen!) I think it could easily have been streamlined into three if we’re being greedy and honestly… for the amount of story? One. Serious. I mean you wouldn’t have the iconic end of the first and all that dead sound time that I’m assuming was an intentional signature but hey. One longish film coulda done it. (I’m willing to split the difference at two.)
That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy them – obviously I watched every single one after realizing I’d only ever seen the first (and after falling in love with
love is falling for make-beliiiiiieve the new reboot that was all kinds of right). I really like watching older sci-fi movies…especially when the big bad future starts in a 1991 imagined from the beginning of the 70s. Pretty great. I really like the sounds we no longer hear in contemporary film. It gives a grittiness to it that – sure – probably keeps the film from reaching it’s goal of transporting me into a post-apocalyptic future (I mean this series is a lesson in how NOT to make something timeless), but that I really like. Being accustomed to the age that brought us Rise of the Planet of the Apes. (Shout-out to Andy Serkis, yo.)
The second best of the series is Escape from the Planet of the Apes, which is the third film. Part of that is because the others don’t quite succeed at world-building. As in, is this Planet etc etc or is this…plaza and field in Los Angeles …of the Apes. They make mention of other continents in the final film and how apes will mimic what’s been done but…wait what? Okay, so this is tantamount to a riot. You overthrew one city’s riot police MAYBE. Where’s the national guard, the military, the league of women voters? (Okay, that’s the un-obligatory Simpsons reference.) So, because I kept going, Wait, is the whole world this one square mile, EPA was a welcome change. It’s set in “present day” LA and features the two main apes from the previous films. The arc is satisfying on it’s own, much like the first movie, showing them as having taken the second shuttle back in time from the future (and coincidentally? ending up in the proper time and place), first as the toast of the town and then of course as the subject of intense scrutiny.
Conquest of the Planet of the Apes introduces Caesar…played by the guy who played his father in the previous movies. So that turned out to be a sweet gig. Ricardo Montalban has raised him secretly in his circus, thank heavens. I’m not sure there’s much wrong with this one other than the thin story and the fact that it encourages very silly observations (wait, so the way you train apes for service is in groups of 100 and by shouting “do!”?? hold on, who thought it a good idea to do this on the terrace in front of the downtown mall?!) – until we get to the part where American slavery is outright aligned with the HORRIBLE enslavement of MONKEYS.
Unamused Ezzie is unamused.
No, seriously. There’s a black guy – who’s wonderful, btw… is it just me or were these actors so much more dignified and thespianly back then! the declarations, my liege! – who says, “As the descendant of slaves…” – and he’s talking to the only proven sentient ape. Unless I missed something all that happened was a disease wiped out domestic house pets and so we (shortsightedly, I mean COME ON) replaced them with apes who we then made slaves… but to my understanding they’re still ANIMALS. Did you just have this guy – purportedly in 1991, remember! – discuss his ancestor’s enslavement with a talking monkey? And though they are destined to nearly wipe.out. the human race, he HELPS Caesar begin the revolution. Because that’s what the black guy would do. >.> Mmm, thanks, friend. #Nope. Gonna wanna talk to the screenwriter when this is done.
Okay. But then there’s Battle for the Planet of the Apes. (NO WAIT! I forgot to mention that Caesar incites this revolution by first staring at different chimps who then – no doubt because of the power of the extreme close-up – demonstrate their defiance against the MAN? And then they find some alley in which to congregate a la When You’re A Jet and NO ONE’S PAYING ATTENTION EXCEPT THE FIRST HALF OF THE MOVIE YOU’RE CONSTANTLY HEARING APE CONTROL OVER THE CITY INTERCOM REPORTING THE SLIGHTEST GATHERING OR ABSENCE AND THEY SEEM TO HAVE A PRETTY GOOD HOLD ON THINGS but whatever. Oh, and the monkeys are… collecting knives. And then again, based solely on a few shots of other monkeys being inexplicably drawn to him throughout the movie and those stolen, intense glances, Caesar organizes them – the still mute and unspectacular monkeys – and overthrows that one terrace in Los Angeles. Bon.
Okay, for real this time – Battle. It’s meant to:
A) be 10 years after the revolution and um, NO. I don’t believe we would’ve bothered going to war against each other when we had a freakin’ monkey problem on our hands, for one, and then also, no, I’m just not buying it.
B) dazzle us with the origin of that crazy set of A-bomb-thumping loons from the second film. Nope. Why are they like that? Why do they still care about fighting when they’re basically radiated zombies, mon frere? And how through the power of revering the bomb instead of using it (get that MESSAGE spit-shined, people!) they end up with telepathic powers and deceptive beauty (as in the second movie)!? Or maybe they don’t since there are signs of the slightest alteration between the second and fifth movie and also Virgil the Orangutan mentions in passing the different lanes of time and blind choice. >.>
And while we’re asking questions, were these fight scenes choreographed and practiced in ANY sense of the words? Oh and when you realized the sci-fi-y wrist restraints on the shock table weren’t gonna wrap around Caesar, why instead of cutting and rethinking this whole shoddy attempt at futurism did you just let that actor hold it “closed” where we could totally see him? Riddle me that.
… So that happened. Are you guys even still reading this?!
So I was (and still remain) really
skeptical unclear as to whether these were all released to the screen. Because. Wow. And then I found this.
(See how I was totally right about the third movie being the second best?) How HONESTLY did they get away with this?
Finally: Tim Burton’s “re-imagining” [insert fight scene pitting me against a copy of the dvd - and I have a sonic machete] of the original cost MORE than Rise, the recent reboot. O_O Taste that. I can’t even comprehend that.
Has anyone else actually watched all five of these?!?!