Friday, October 4, 2013

Now why would I start off the first movie review for SuperMom Tested with The Planet of the Apes?  Good question.

If I were to categorize Planet of the Apes, I would actually call it a protest film. Probably the most successful protest film of all time, simply because it hides well the message behind the "mask" of science fiction.  Just like Sammy Hagar's "I Can't Drive 55" is the best protest song of all time (my opinion).

As a refresher to this 1968 classic, it was based off of a 1963 French novel called La Planete des singes by Pierre Boulle.  Produced by Arthur P Jacobs (who also produced Doctor Dolittle) and starred Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Maurice Evans, Kim Hunter and Linda Harrison.

Heston's character is a type of its time.  By today's standard he would seemed a little too dramatic in the role, but for the time, he played his part the way it needed to be.

Heston's character is an astronaut who leaves Earth with 3 other astronauts, three men and one woman in total, to never return, but to search for a place to re-populate from the crowding planet.  (Kind of weird they would send three men and one woman, but hey, it takes place WAY in the future... like 1972).

The explorers land on a planet where apes are the lead species and humans were treated more like.... well, apes.  Or dogs... or trash.  Either way, the message was clear.  Humans, on this planet, were mute.  Apes were civilized. After a period of silence, after losing his voice in a gun fight, Heston's character gains his voice back and yells at a bunch of ape soldiers who were chasing after of my favorite scenes.  The apes were shocked that a human could talk, and it causes turmoil in the ape community.

I think what makes the film as successful as it was is the ending (there are many who have yet to see the original film, so I will not spoil it.) It is one of the most shocking endings, one I remember seeing as a kid, but being reunited with the film later in life, it meant more to me.

There are 5 original Ape movies, this one being the most successful.  These 5 are not counting the one made in 2001 with Mark Wahlberg or the one in 2011 with James Franco.  (That's 7 in all, a new one is being released in 2014.) The first 5 films were made back to back one year at a time.  But ironically, unlike Hollywood today, the budget of each film got smaller and smaller.  The first film was 6 million dollars, the next was 5 million and so on.  Yet, each were successful in it's own right.

The awesome makeup of the time, making people look like apes, was done by John Chambers, who was best known for the ears on Spock.  What he wasn't known for was his involvement in a CIA operation in helping hostages be rescued during the Iranian Hostage Crisis in 1979.  He was part of a plan to make a fake movie that was to be filmed in Iran in order for the officials to get in posing as a film crew.  This story is featured in the film "Argo".

As far as objectionable content, the violent scenes are pretty 60's, so I think the younger ones could handle it.  Lot's of shooting, but very little blood.  The female human runs around half naked most of the time, but no more then you see at the beach.  And if you can handle two apes kissing (barely enough to not ruin the makeup) then this movie is safe for you.

One would find almost as entertaining as the movie is the supplemental materials, mostly the 2 hour documentary.  The original series of all 5 movies are now on DVD and Bluray, either as a group of 5 or individually.


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