So the fourth movie in the franchise picks up about eighteen years after the original, a future in which Apes are used as slave labour and the government has a whole scary “big brother” thing going on. One of the details I appreciate in this movie is the explanation of how the apes became slaves. They briefly explain that all dogs and cats went extinct due to a mysterious virus, and so people began using monkeys as replacement pets, and once they started to see how intelligent and easily trainable they were, it wasn’t long until they began exploiting them for labour. And as the need for labour grew, monkey servants were replaced by ape slaves. It’s simple enough, but makes a lot of sense, and it’s a part of the story you can instantly understand without a lot of need for explanation. Anyway, the son of Zira and Cornelius is not a grown ape named Caesar, and has been living in Ricardo Montalban’s creepy circus and hiding his ability to talk. Eventually, Caesar ends up in captivity, spends some time being treated shittliy by people, and eventually leads an ape rebellion against the humans. It’s basically the exact plot from Rise of the Planet of the Apes. You know, I actually really like this one. This late into the series and with the such rapidly declining quality of sequels, it’s hard to believe that the fourth one would be this good. I would call it the best one after the original. It’s really great to see the beginning of the world we see in the first one, and it does a good job of setting up that universe. In the original movie, the protagonist is human, and the apes are the bad guys pretty much the whole movie, but seeing how badly humans treated apes just before their uprising kind of makes you sympathize with Dr. Zaius. I also like the setting. Although it only took place twenty years into the future, they create an interesting and unique society, and the government is one that you can totally see being the guys to accidentally blow up the statue of liberty. It’s a deeper exploration of the ideas that were implies by the end of the first movie, and it’s done really well. I can see why they chose this story to tell when rebooting the franchise. But what really sets this movie apart from the second and third movie is that it doesn’t use exactly the same plot structure as the original. It actually tells its own story with its own beats, and it’s super refreshing. It has a really good tone, I like the selective use of music, and the pacing is excellent, but the highlight of the movie is at the end when the apes and humans finally go to war with each other. It’s like the entire franchise built up to this direct battle between the species and it’s so awesome to watch. The only really bad thing I can say about this movie is that it hasn’t aged super well. Some of the effects and acting are pretty corny, and it’s kind of hard to take seriously when the futuristic setting is the year 1991. But you can’t really hold any of that against them, I mean it was the seventies.
Overall Rating: Kinda fucking epic/10
So the common solution of the two problems that plagued a third movie moving forward, a low budget and the earth being blown up, was to send the characters back in time to present day earth. Yep, that’s right. It turns out that during the events of the last movie, which I’ll remind you took place over the course of like two days, Cornelius and Zira found the only rocket scientist on the planet, went out into the forbidden zone, found the crashed ship that Brent came it, fixed it up despite the fact that basic aerodynamics had not yet been invented in their society, launched it into space without any ground crew or fuel, and then were sent back in time by the shockwave of the earth exploding. The movie simply opens with the ship landing on present day earth, no explanation. So the movie plays out as a kind of reverse of the original, with the talking primates now being captive in our world, instead of the other way around. They also pretend they don’t know how to talk at first, simply for the sake of having a big reveal fifteen minutes in. Like, they say it’s because they don’t want the humans to know they’re intelligent, but then they still wear clothes and use cutlery and stuff around them. Anyway, they spend most of the movie just kinda farting around the military compound while government dude debate about what to do with them. and then eventually Zira reveals that she’s pregnant. The humans are worried that their offspring will eventually overthrow humanity, which seems like a pretty legit concern considering Cornelius and Zira flat out told them that apes would rule the world in the future. So they decide to abort the baby and fix them so that they can’t have any more kids, which actually seems pretty reasonable to me. I mean, they’re willing to let you live peacefully in their society, they just want some insurance that they won’t become extinct within the next hundred years. Either way, Zira and Cornelius make a run for it, are chased by the military, and are eventually killed. But their baby survives and is kept secret from everyone in some sketchy circus. The biggest problem with this movie is that it was clearly just made in order to reset things after the planet blowing up and to set up the next film in the franchise. It’s clear that no effort went into it at all, and it has a crazy low budget. I mean, there’s like three locations, and they’re all just regular looking rooms. The only thing it seems like they actually spent money on was the makeup, and even that looks much worse than in the last two movies. Anyway, this movie sucks, but the only real point of it is that now we’re back in the present and they have a decent set up for a fourth movie.
Overall Rating: Oh, and Ricardo Montalban’s in this. I fucking love that guy/10
Planet of the Apes was one of the most successful movies of its time, so naturally, they were very quick to pump out a sequel. Beneath the Planet of the Apes picks up shortly after the first movie, with another US spaceship landing on the planet after being sent to find Taylor and his crew. The only surviving astronaut of this ship, a man called Brent, is pretty much a carbon copy of Taylor from the first one, but significantly less developed. He’s basically just there to guide us through the story, and isn’t very interesting himself. The first half of the movie basically plays out the same beats as the original, with him meeting the Apes, being captured and put in a cage, and then escaping and discovering he’s been on earth all along. Where the movie gets interesting is in the last forty minutes or so, when we discover a whole race of super intelligent humans living underground. They worship an unexploded nuclear warhead and the radiation has given them all wicked mind powers. What I like about this is that it adds another dimension to the established world from the first movie. They introduce a new threat to the characters and environment, which is exactly what a good sequel should do. I’m kind of disappointed that these underground mutants aren’t references at all in any of the new movies. You wanna wow me with the third entry in the Andy Serkis franchise, have him go up against these guys. Anyway, the movie ends with Dr. Zaius leading an army of gorillas (who’s numbers seem to be greater than the population of the Ape community from the first movie, but whatever) in an assault against the telepathic mutants, which culminates in Charlton Heston briefly reappearing just to activate the nuclear bomb and destroy the entire planet. I kinda like this ending. It’s satisfying to see Charlton Heston’s character Taylor finally get some peace after all he’s been through, and having the planet destroyed by humans is fitting with the end of the first movie. It’s a nice way to put to rest both the franchise and the main character. (Or it would be, if they hadn’t figured out a way to make three more sequels after literally the entire planet explodes) Ultimately, Beneath the Planet of the Apes is a much campier, more action oriented movie, and lacks all of the tone and weight of the original. But it’s also pretty fucking cool.
Overall Rating: Nuclear/10
So I was totally gonna watch all the Planet of the Apes movies and marathon review them before I saw Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, but I wanted to actually watch them in good quality on blu ray instead of downloading them, and I had like no money to buy them, so I kept putting off doing it, and then Dawn came out, and I still kept putting it off, so finally I just went and saw it, and reviewed it, and just so it felt like acknowledged the franchise a little, I also reviewed Rise of the Planet of the Apes. But then I actually did get some money, and I did go out and buy the original five movies, and now I’m watching through them again. So it’s a little late and a bit out of order, but I’m gonna marathon review the franchise. Starting with the first one. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that this movie is great. I mean, there probably wouldn’t be four sequels, a remake, a reboot, a sequel to the reboot, and a TV show if the original movie wasn’t any good. The real question, I think, would be if it’s still great after almost fifty years. The answer is a definite and emphatic yes. Planet of the Apes is by any definition of the phrase a great movie, and one of the best sci-fi films ever made. It’s tense, phycological, and has an eerie tone all throughout. Charlton Heston is great in it, and even when there’s not much happening his character is intriguing to watch. But really the whole movie is just building to the end, which, though not much of an action packed climax, is one of the best endings to a movie ever. Even after seeing it parodied a million times, that shot of the statue of liberty sticking out of the sand still sends shivers down my spine every time.
Overall Rating: IT’S A MAD HOUSE, A MAAAD HOUSE!!!!!/10
So Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes was a pretty good movie, but really all it did was set the stage for a way better sequel. And Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes delivers. It’s a dark, post-apocalyptic movie, and normally there’s nothing special about that, but since the first in the series was set in our regular world and was much lighter in tone, the contrast here really makes you feel the losses that the humans have suffered. It’s also great to see the apes’ peaceful little society become engulfed in death and war due to their mistrust of human, and the highlight is certainly near the end when they attack the human camp. But what really makes this movie is Caesar. Andy Serkis has an amazing motion capture performance, and the technology has evolved to such a point that I had to keep reminding myself that the apes weren’t real. It’s also really great to see how he’s evolved, and how the events of the first movie have affected him and influence his actions in this one. But what’s really great is that he’s finally the main character of the movie. I mean, it’s called Planet of the Apes, but all the movies seem to tell the story from a human perspective. This movie is finally the ape’s story, as their society begins to take over, and the struggles they got through in maintaining it. Sure, there are human characters thrown in, and they do get kind of annoying, especially the kid, but they’re mainly just there to serve the arc of Caesar. It’s really his movie, and it’s great.
Overall Rating: Dude Apes Are Fucking Badass/10
Rise of the Planet of the Apes may be the second attempt to reboot the franchise in only ten years, but hopefully it’s the only one people will remember in the long run. It’s a solid story with some decently developed characters, and when the awesome ape-attack goes down at the end I actually care about the stakes as well as appreciate the quality action. The movie does have a lot of flaws; there’s a few too many gross plot conveniences, like how easily Caesar’s mom escapes at the beginning, not to mention the fact that none of the people doing medical experiments on her noticed she was pregnant, and it also kind of bugs me how the entire second half is basically just a prison movie with apes. But it does get big points for originality, managing to tell the familiar story in an incredible new way. I think it was a great move to focus the story on Caesar’s own growth and development, adding a character element to the plot of apes rising to intelligence. It’s a tight, original movie, and it has some pretty dope action towards the end.
Overall Rating: Yo how awesome was it when he bitched out the kid from Harry Potter?/10
So as you may or not know, I’m a pretty big fan of Star Trek. And I’m also very much so NOT a fan of the new J.J. Abrahams movies. I think they’re terrible, CGI schlock-fests that could not possibly be more insulting to Gene Roddenberry’s original vision of a utopian future. But that’s besides the point. Let’s think back for a second. Back in the mid-80s, when Star Trek popularity was at it’s height, did they just pump out action-packed big budget movie after action-packed big budget movie? Well, yes. But they also took the series forward in a big, big way. Star Trek: The Next Generation is one of the best possible moves anyone has made in terms of leeching off a successful franchise. It took the shows themes and ideals, but made them fresh and new, totally reviving the franchise for the next, well, generation. But after fifteen years, seven seasons, four movies and three spinoff series, everybody stopped giving a shit about Star Trek all over again. And once again, it needed a revival. Which came in the form of J.J. Abrahams’ 2009 blockbuster reboot. But ask yourself, is a high budget big screen rehashing of all the classic moments from the sixties show really what was needed to revive the Star Trek franchise? Then answer is hell no. And what they should have done is sitting right under everybody’s noses, clear as day; they should do another next generation. A new TV show, with a new cast of characters, set another hundred years forward. See, TV had changed a lot in the twenty years between the original series and TNG, and it’s changed even more in the twenty years since. What we need is a new Star Trek series for the modern world, and though Gene Roddenberry may no longer be around to give it his blessing, I think if the right people were involved it could really make Star Trek great again, and usher in a whole new era for the franchise, something fresh and new. Wouldn’t you rather see that than Kirk and Spock argue about emotion for the millionth goddamn time? If you ask me, the Star Trek movies always suffered from the studio trying to make them to action-y, and a good intellectual TV series is what’s needed right now to bring it back to it’s roots. Now, there may not be much I can do about it (hell, I can’t even get a job at Target), but somebody out there should get this done. Netflix, I’m looking at you.