Category Archives: Planet of the Apes Franchise

“Planet of the Apes” Franchise Retrospect – Worst to Best of the Franchise

Planet of the Apes Franchise

The Planet of the Apes Franchise has some great moments and is a solid franchise overall. Looking back gave me an appreciation for the original series and I got to see one of the worst films ever in Tim Burton’s remake. In this list I will recount them from worst to best with the reasons why they are in that place. I will also have the links of the original reviews of the said films. So without further ado, let’s go!

Planet of the Apes

9th – Planet of the Apes (2001)   –   2  / 10

I have no idea what Tim Burton was thinking when he decided to take on this project, since I have never seen a movie miss the point of the subject matter this much (this film is worse than the “Transformers” Franchise). The main character is flat and generic, the villain is hammy and evil without any point and the human and apes have no discernible civilization. Things happen because story is over character and the story makes no sense. From Capt. Leo’s chimp arriving on the Ape Earth to Leo traveling through the portal to a future where there is an Ape Lincoln statue in the Lincoln Memorial. This was a confusing mess that was insulting to the audience. Thankfully it never gets this bad again.

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2014/07/08/planet-of-the-apes-2001-how-to-miss-the-point-of-the-source-material-and-waste-good-talent/

beneath-the-planet-of-the-apes-movie-poster-1020221553

8th – Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)  –  6 / 10

“Beneath the Planet of the Apes,” is the most unfocused out of all the Ape Films. There are tons of protagonists but most don’t really get any time. Also the main protagonist Brent is from the Mark Wahlberg school of generic and is a forgettable protagonist who has nothing really to define him. In this when we get introduced to the Mutants who are worshiping a nuke. They are also flat and the most interesting people who we see get any exploration are Dr. Zaius and General Ursus who believe they are protecting ape kind from destruction. Cornelius and Zira only have a cameo sadly. The film in the end is above average for these reasons. Also, everyone dies except for Cornelius, Zira and Milo who go back in time…I wish we could have seen them repairing Brent’s ship and their escape. It would have made the ending more bittersweet.

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2014/07/03/beneath-the-planet-of-the-apes-1970-not-enough-time-with-the-apes/

Conquest of the Planet of the Apes

7th – Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972) –  7 / 10

“Conquest” has a lot of good ideas that aren’t fully realized. My biggest problem is after Armando dies, we never see Caesar integrate himself into ape society. If he had it would have made sense for them to follow him. Instead he stares at them and they decide to follow him. This one also has a villain (Governor Brett) about as complex as the leader of the Mutants in “Beneath,” so evil for the sake of evil. This was a shame since the President and Dr. Otto from “Escape,” were brilliant as antagonists. Caesar’s reason for going bad make less sense too since MacDonald is there as a good character, yet at the end Caesar is talking about the destruction of mankind as a whole. It is as if Armando was forgotten, which is a shame. Still an entertaining film, though “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” does it better.

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2014/07/05/conquest-of-the-planet-of-the-apes-1972-a-good-idea-poorly-executed/

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

6th – Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) – 8.3 / 10

“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” suffers from making it’s lead up (Before the Dawn – the 3 short films) set expectations too high, and throwing away one of the most interesting characters in the 3rd Act (Koba the Bonobo) who was experimented on by humans in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” for an easy out and to give Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) reason to try and kill the apes. Besides the third act this is a great film, it is just the 3rd act captures all the cliches. Koba and Caesar fight on a tower after Caesar’s attempted assassination and Koba is just plain evil when we saw none of that before. Great moments but ruined by how Koba and Dreyfus were handled in the end and the fact that Malcolm was way too over-trusting. It at least is honest that war is inevitable given the events that go down and that apes started the war (one reason Malcolm shouldn’t have been so trusting).

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2014/07/11/dawn-of-the-planet-of-the-apes-2014-how-the-trauma-of-the-past-can-devour-the-future/

Battle for the Planet of the Apes

5th – Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973) – 8.5 / 10

“Battle” is rated higher than “Dawn,” because “Battle” knows that it’s premise is a bit hilarious. We see this in Governor Kolp who listen to Mendez, one of the mutants for peace but still revels in the fight because he is slightly mad from the radiation. We also have a tender moment of Caesar watching the footage of his parents Zira and Cornelius in the archives of the dead city. This and General Aldo’s guilt over killing Caesar’s son make this better than “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” the movie that took inspiration from it’s premise. We see the consequences of war, but also the hope for peace when Lawgiver is teaching children and apes side by side and how the future is unknown…giving us hope the cycle might be broken, or that there is good even as humanity goes towards destruction (“Beneath the Planet of the Apes,”). We also see MacDonald advocate for human freedom and the ability to choose their own destiny, which Caesar respects after the defeat of Aldo who was going to slaughter all the humans.

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2014/07/07/battle-for-the-planet-of-the-apes-1973-completing-the-original-planet-of-the-apes-cycle-and-a-story-of-hope/

Before the Dawn

4th – Before the Dawn: 3 Short Films Between “Rise” and “Dawn” –  9 / 10

“Before the Dawn,” is better than “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” the human characters are more complicated and it shows the reality of the world of “Dawn” and the fear they feel towards each other and the apes so brilliantly. I almost wish “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” had been done in this style…than we wouldn’t have had naive Malcolm and Jump the Shark Koba. We see a wife torn from her husband dying alone in quarantine in “Quarantine,” we see the desperate life of the survivors in “All Fall Down,” and how people cling to the memories of the past and in “Story of the Gun,” we see humanity’s descent into savagery and the rise of the apes. Is beneath the original “Planet of the Apes” because it is only shorts and not a full length feature.

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2014/07/10/before-the-dawn-3-short-films-leading-up-dawn-of-the-planet-of-the-apes-reviews/

Planet of the Apes 1968

3rd – Planet of the Apes (1968) – 9 / 10

The original “Planet of the Apes,” is a classic for a reason. Charlton Heston is great as the nihilist George Taylor who in fact does care, and Cornelius and Zira as the ones building a bridge between humanity and apes through Taylor is some of the best stuff. Dr. Zaius is also the best of the antagonists as he seeks to protect the future by hiding the truth and the past from the apes. This film is one of my favorites and there is a reason it started the franchise, even though it is a very self contained movie that didn’t need sequels. From memorable lines of “Damn you all to hell!” and others it is a cinematic classic worthy of the praise it receives. Ape society reflects the worst and best of ours today, which is what this franchise does at it’s best.

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2014/07/03/planet-of-the-apes-1968-we-are-the-apes/

escape-from-the-planet-of-the-apes

2nd – Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971) – 9.5 / 10

“Escape from the Planet of the Apes,” is one of the greatest films in the franchise and one of my all time favorite films. It explores the perspective of the outsider from the view of Zira and Cornelius (the best parts of “Beneath” and the original “Planet of the Apes,” and we see how they are used by Dr. Otto who fears they will bring about the future of the “Planet of the Apes” through their child. We see human characters who were as they were (scientists fight for them and help them escape the feds), and we see the dilemma of leadership in the President who realizes their power in regards to his own so respects them until Dr. Otto turns him against them. Dr. Otto is a great human Dr. Zaius type character and Armando is fantastic as the one who protects Zira and Cornelius for a time and helps them save their son Milo when he is being hunted down. It is a beautiful film and the most powerful of the original series.

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2014/07/04/escape-from-the-planet-of-the-apes-1971-the-hope-of-ape-and-humankind/

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

1st – Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) – 9.75 / 10

“Rise of the Planet of the Apes” manages to capture the process of the outsider becoming part of the group (Caesar’s time in captivity) why animal experimentation happens (finding cures for Alzheimer’s etc.) and that groups and people are complicated. It is a beautiful story of the rise of Caesar and captures the Ape Revolution much better than “Conquest,” does. This film is the best of the franchise with the most complex human and ape characters whose motivations make sense. From Will trying to save his father, to Caesar feeling abandoned and choosing his people and establishing himself as leader with the help of the Orangutan Maurice. It is the best of the franchise and my favorite of all these films. It elevates the subject matter and Serkis is by far the best Caesar of the franchise.

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2014/07/08/rise-of-the-planet-of-the-apes-2011-a-great-retelling-of-the-origins-and-rise-of-caesar/

I would recommend all the Franchise to any person who loves a creative premise and is ready to see some pretty great acting. The Original Series Cycle is solid as a whole and the only really bad film in the franchise is the Tim Burton “Planet of the Apes.” It is a fascinating whole and was an amazing adventure to do. We’ll eventually return to this when the new film that is in the works happens. Till then, hopefully we can learn the lessons from the franchise and find our better selves.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014): How the Trauma of the Past Can Devour the Future

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” was so close to being the perfect film in the franchise…and after proceeded to destroy that in the last third of the movie with how it handled two of it’s characters. I’ll go into the details of this in the assessment.

First the premise, the premise is that 10 years of passed since the Simian Flu has wiped out most of the human population. The opening actually has the news reports and shows the spread of the virus and decimation of populations. We pick up  with the apes from the last film who have built a civilization in the Redwoods and think humanity is gone, until some survivors appear trying to reach the dam for energy for their city when one of them panics and shoots one of the apes. From here the story unfolds as Caesar (Andy Serkis) and Malcolm (Jason Clark) try to build trust…while Koba (Toby Kebbell) and Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) (both victims of trauma in different ways) have none. From here the story unfolds.

Spoilers ahead

Here is the assessment of the film:

Pros: The Inspiration from “Battle for the Planet of the Apes,” this movie takes inspiration from Conquest with certain roles traded out. We have Malcolm in the place of McDonald as the human trying to build trust, there is Dreyfus as the Governor Kolp, Koba as General Aldo and in both Caesar has a son and faces the threat from within (Koba) and without (Dreyfus). We see the apes outside of Caesar learning to trust as well with Maurice in the role of Virgil. The story also ends in a battle that sets up the future of “The Planet of the Apes.”

The Special Effects – Are top of the game again. We see details in the facial scans of people playing the apes and the battles sequences are beautiful…though at times a bit too video game like.

Caesar – Andy Serkis is back and his character has grown. We see Caesar the leader who is a bit of a Xenophobe towards humans until Malcolm puts himself at risk in order to show that humans can be trusted…and why the humans need the dam for energy. You see moments where the trust is broken when of his men hides a gun when Caesar’s condition was no weapons…and how it comes back when Caesar realizes apes are the same as humans…that there are good and bad of both. He has great moments with his son Blue Eyes and his wife (and when Malcolm’s wife saves his wife from illness). As well as when he is back in his old home hiding and finds a video of Will (James Franco) and him as a child. It is a tender moment and powerful when he owns up to the fact that in the end it was the apes who started the war and that humanity will not trust them because of it.

Maurice – Maurice, the orangutan from the last movie returns and is teaching the young how to read and the the laws (Ape shall not kill ape). We see him connect with Alexander, Malcolm’s son and Malcolm teaches him how to read. He is also Caesar’s core ally and speaks the most actively against violence, even to the point of defending Alexander.

Blue Eyes – Blue eyes is great. We see him as a follower of Koba initially, until Koba’s heal turn where everyone is a threat who isn’t a loyalist…after that Blue Eyes realizes his father was right all along and helps restore him to power once he learns he is alive.

The Apes – The ape civilization is the highlight of this film. We see complex interactions between them and how they honor each other or show the other has dominance by reaching out their hand with head bowed. They also have a hierarchy based on those closest to Caesar (the ones mentioned from the last film).

Dreyfus – Gary Oldman owns this role. He is complicated and is willing to give Malcolm time to find a peaceful solution, though at the same time he trains his men in case of war. He reminds me a lot of Caesar before Caesar learns that apes are no different from men. We see a man who is a veteran who has experienced trauma and lost his family to the Simian Flu and is doing all he can to keep it together (he breaks down once power is back and he realizes everything he’s lost). He pulls a George Taylor at the end blowing himself up to try and destroy the apes in the building they are on…and you get why he does what he does at each point. He never attacks, only defends. He is an antagonist since at the end he doesn’t trust Malcolm…but he also had no reason to and Malcolm comes off as super naive through most of the film.

The Message – The message was actually real, and great. It clearly showed how trauma can change people and cause distrust and bring out the worst in ourselves. We saw that before Koba jumped the shark to go completely evil and we see that through the eyes of Dreyfus and the other apes. The apes are changed by the trauma of believing themselves under attack and it makes them tools of Koba or in humanity’s case…tools of Dreyfus.

Okay: Koba – Koba could have been a great villain. He had reasons to hate the humans (he was the Bonobo who was experimented on in the last film). We see his distrust here and when he finds humans in the city training with guns. But he loses all credibility when he begins killing his own and arresting those who disagree with him after his assassination attempt on Caesar (which makes sense since Caesar nearly beats him to death). Third act he is arresting those who disagree and when Caesar is back he owns up to nothing…he is just a sociopath and the whole point of trauma ruining good people get’s thrown out the door. He could have been the best baddie…but even Aldo felt guilt.

Malcolm’s family – His new partner Elli and his son Alexander are interesting, just not strong characters. His kid is a blank slate who has some good moments with Maurice but is just there to motivate Malcolm…and his wife Elli heals Caesar’s wife and goes from distrust to trust…but we never see why…beyond Caesar’s baby connecting with them all.

Humanity – After everything shown in the three videos leading up to this movie…I wish we’d gotten more of that. We don’t see how complicated things are in the city or how it works. All we know is Dreyfus and Malcolm created it…it isn’t bad, but there isn’t much there. Would have liked to see more of the post apocalyptic society.

Cons: Koba’s transformation – I get him snapping after being nearly beaten to death by Caesar (can’t trust apes now), but he doesn’t even play lip service to Caesar except at the beginning. Not only does he become an outright villain (locking up Caesar’s friends, killing Ash…Rocket’s son) it is never explained. He has no guilt after us seeing a thinking and feeling person who had been through so much trauma. I hated that. He could have turned against Caesar if they had made some of Dreyfus’s men attack in retaliation for some of them being killed by Koba after Koba takes vengeance for Ash being injured originally. The third act really falls apart.

The Third Act – Malcolm still trusts the apes after they destroy his home and imprison people in cages…he protects Caesar even though he knows they are attacking his city under Koba and he holds Dreyfus hostage for having the gall to fight back.

Malcolm – From holding his friends hostage, to never fighting the apes or thinking fighting back is an option…this guy wins the award for most naive protagonist. Talking is one thing, when they’re attacking you…you kind of have to defend yourself. He doesn’t get it until Caesar tells him at the end. “Peace over. Apes started war, humans will not forgive.” To word it one way. He could have been great if he’d felt like the apes had to offer him something. Trust goes both ways…and I don’t just mean letting him get power for the humans in the city in order for them to live.

The Final Fight – This felt excessive and unneeded. People saw that Caesar was alive, by surviving the attempt on his life and revealing Koba to be the one behind it should have got the others behind him. Instead they have a long fight in the Gen-Sys tower that leads to it eventually collapsing after Dreyfus blows it up. What a waste, less is more guys.

This movie was not the strongest or the best of the “Planet of the Apes” Franchise. It was good, but not great. I would recommend it anyone who likes the series though and it looking for an interesting film to see this summer.

Final score for this film is 8.3 / 10. Had so much potential that was wasted in the final act.

 

Before the Dawn – 3 Short Films Leading up “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” Reviews

Before the Dawn

“Before the Dawn,” are the three short films created in the lead up to “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” in each the goal is to show how the world has changed from the Outbreak of the Simian Flu. The films are “Quarantine,” “All Fall Down,” and “Story of a Gun.” I’ll be reviewing each individually since they are all pretty short. They take place over the 10 years between “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” and “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.”

 Quarantine

“Quarantine”

“Quarantine” begins with the words – “In 2011 the ‘Simian Flu’ Virus spread across Major U.S. Cities. With no known cure, global efforts focused on containment.”

“Quarantine” is powerful, showing a couple in love at the beginning just trying to live, it takes place in year 1 of the outbreak…during this year there is the birth of their daughter and the mother being put in containment. From here we see the Father’s downfall as he breaks into a man’s home to still his food for his dying wife. The visuals are great, and my biggest problem is the electronic music in the background…it distracts from the scenes that are taking place, and we never see the daughter’s reaction to her father beating a man to death. Though we do get a flashback of the mother when she was dragged to containment. Still a good short film though.

8 / 10

All Fall Down

“All Fall Down”

“All Fall Down,” achieves what it needs to do to show that this is no longer the world of the humans. This takes place in Year 5 of the outbreak. We see a single mother raising her son…recounting to us how nearly all of humanity is dead and that there is danger lurking in the darkness. We see what the world has become “With people trading things they need for what they want…memories of a world they will never have again.” It is powerful and ends with an ape raiding the mother’s food (which we never see the ape proper…just it’s eyes from the darkness). It ends with the feel of humanity under siege. It does just what it needs to do to capture the desolation of humanity and the foreboding danger of the rise of the apes.

10 / 10

Story of the Gun

“Story of the Gun”

“Story of the Gun,” tells the story of the fall of man over the course of 10 years using a gun as way to do so. We first begin 10 years later with a man running from apes shooting wildly, before we flash to the past. The first owner is a boy who is learning how to hunt with his dad, after he trades the gun away for supplies and medicine it goes to a mother infected with flu trying to protect her kids after her a U.S. Marshall gets the gun and goes from law abiding to attacking a Latino family for supplies…he is later killed by one of the roving gangs. After the owner is a slightly mad conspiracy nut who ends up killing himself after his gang gets killed and he realizes he is alone in the home they’ve commandeered…last is the man we saw the beginning who is trying to protect his adopted daughter. They are in the forest when we hear the apes attack, he drops the gun and we see an ape’s shadow standing over it.

This film is the most ambitious, and it mostly succeeds. It’s biggest problem is it should have been longer. The second woman who owns the gun gets no exploration at all and we don’t see what the conspiracy guy was like before the fall in his memories…same goes for the last guy who mostly functions to show the threat of the apes and functions less as a character.

For this reason…final score is 8.5 / 10.

If you like short films you will probably get a kick out of this. It was masterfully done and shows the fall of humanity and the rise of the apes via what is hinted out throughout all the films. This was a nice break, as the next time I return to the “Planet of the Apes Franchise Retrospect,” it will be to review “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.” These films set the stage so well for the upcoming film, leaving “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” a lot of deliver.

These are all solid productions and I’d rate the whole overall as a 9 / 10.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011): A Great Retelling of the Origins and Rise of Caesar

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

      “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” is the perfect reboot. It honors the original material while still taking an original approach to characters, origins and style. The film is directed by Rupert Wyatt and rather than taking a Nuclear War approach or Time Travel in regards to how the apes became intelligent…he takes the route of an artificial virus that grants intelligence and regeneration of the brain. Without saying more here is the premise. 

    The Premise of “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” is Caesar becomes the orphan at a biotech company named Gen-Sys after his mother (Bright Eyes) is killed when she tries to defend him from the testing she went through that made her more intelligent. After the Chimps are ordered to be euthanized but Caesar is saved by the Chimp handler who gives him to the bio-tech scientist Will (played by James Franco) who takes him and raises him. From here the story unfolds.

Pros: Inspiration from the subject material – The movie clearly takes inspiration from “Battle for the Planet of the Apes,” with Will in the place of Armando…the one good human compared to all the abusive ones who Caesar comes in contact with. The slave camp is replaced by the Ape Sanctuary (tied to Gen-Sys who is doing testing on Apes) and Caesar’s break in this comes when he feels that Will and his wife Caroline are forced to leave by the owner of the Sanctuary. From here he chooses his people and rises to win them freedom and a home. The Simian Flu is in play as well with it’s beginnings here…but rather than targeting dogs and cats…it targets people. There is also news about the launch of the Space Flight that is the ship that crashes beginning the original “Planet of the Apes.” 

The Writing – The writing is fantastic. The idea of strengthening the human mind through drugs and healing it…in order to prevent or heal Alzheimers is what we are trying to do now. In that way the writing is relevant to today as well as showing the cost of Alzheimers on the person going through it and their family (via Charles Rodman played by John Lithgow). 

The Special Effects – The Apes look like Apes with Andy Serkis once again owning his role, this time as the main character Caesar. We see how he is like an ape but how different he is too (his standing tall) and his voice sounds like how a talking Chimp would probably sound like. 

Caesar – Roddy McDowell was a great Caesar, but Serkis is better. The reasons behind this is the change between “Battle” and “Conquest” isn’t handled as well and neither is his getting the Apes to join him in a slave revolt. He just looks at them. Caesar learns from Maurice how to earn the respect of the Apes and what he needs to make them intelligent (the virus). Serkis’s Caesar’s arc makes much more sense…and his reason for not hurting people makes sense too given that he was raised by humans and we see that being raised by humans. In “Battle” he is already fully grown. 

Will Rodman – Great work to James Franco. His character is complex – Ethics versus Job…and you can see how he grows to care for Caesar and is in the end the one who needs to let go because Caesar has chosen to lead his people. He is fantastic in this movie. 

Charles Rodman – John Lithgow gives us a reason to motivate Will to find the cure to Alzhiemers and he does it masterfully. We see his powerlessness and the moments of hope when the virus is helping his brain become sharper…to when it is all lost. 

Maurice – The Orangutan adviser is the one who teaches Caesar how to integrate and become a leader and is also the one shows Caesar that the apes as they are currently don’t have the wisdom to get out of anarchy, leading Caesar to get the virus and use it make the apes as intelligent as him. 

Dodge Landon – Tom Felton plays a wonderfully cruel character. He is the character who says, “Get your hands off me you damn dirty ape.” Showing how the words are used to oppress and how the apes are seen by most people. His death when he tries to kill Caesar is rewarding because of how despicable he is. Playing Malfoy taught him well. 

Buck – The Gorilla who Caesar frees first and goes through the cycle of healing from his abuse. He is a great character who has a sad death. It is a fantastic death too though, he fracking punches a Helicopter out of the air! 

Gen-Sys – We see a complex corporation! The Chimp handler stands up for the chimps even though he caves and Will even quits at some point. We see that it isn’t simply a bad company even though profit is it’s main drive…and not people…which leads to the spread of the Simian Flu, so there is that. 

The Apes – We get to see the social dynamic between them as Caesar integrates and becomes their leader. There is complexity with Rocket as the Alpha before Caesar takes him out and makes him a leader underneath him. It is great since Rocket uses brute force but Caesar uses it with a mixture of knowledge and tact. He doesn’t want fear, he wants respect…unlike rocket who just wants fear.

Liberation – We see Caesar organize and teach them, build connections and free the other apes from Gen-Sys. It is great rising action leading to the climax of the battle as all apes in San Francisco become free. 

The final fight – We see strategy as the Apes and Police fight on the Golden Gate bridge…from a bus being used to protect from gunfire, to a gorilla punching a helicopter out of the air…and apes using the upper and lower part of the bridge to reach their opponents. It is a great fight, far better than the one in “Battle for the Planet of the Apes.”  

The Message – The message is one of cautiousness, that before new technologies are used they should be tested and that all life that we know to be intelligent should be respected. It was a good message. 

Okay: The antagonists John Landon (Brian Cox) and Steven Jacobs (David Oyelowo) – John owns the Ape Sanctuary and doesn’t seem to be motivated by anything more than greed, same goes for Steven. They do this well but the roles aren’t memorable and could have been played by anyone. They don’t elevate the role the way Dodge was. Steven goes between being seen as super cautious and super reckless…he is what the script needs him to be basically. 

Caroline (Frieda Pinto) – She’s generic love interest who I wish had been given more to do. She is their for Caesar and after their for Will and that is the most of her role is. Still, much more depth than Areanna and Nova. 

Cons – Not enough time with the Apes – We’ll probably get this in “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” the upcoming sequel…but I wanted to see more of the relationship between the different types of Ape. We never really got that outside of Caesar’s relationships. That is the only con I can think of besides fleshing out the characters I listed as okay. 

    After re-watching this film after not seeing it for some time…it is one of my favorite films. It is better than the Original Planet of the Apes Series as far as execution of the story is concerned and even has a better Caesar…which is saying something since Roddy McDowell was quite amazing. I would highly recommend this film. 

My final Score for this film is 9.75 / 10. 

     Only reason it doesn’t have a full score is because of the issues of the okay characters and the con of not giving us more of the complexity among the apes. I must admit that I am quite excited to see “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” after watching this and can’t wait to review it in a few days. 

Planet of the Apes (2001): How To Miss the Point of the Source Material and Waste Good Talent

Planet of the Apes (2001)

What were the studios, the actors and Tim Burton thinking when they made this film? Cause it is a while since I have been this entertained from such a bad film. It captures so wonderfully what not to do…which is a shame considering they had 5 movies of inspiration to call upon. I’ll get into the details of what I mean in the assessment.

First, the premise of the film. The premise is Capt. Leo (played by Mark Wahlberg) is following after his Chimp partner Pericles in the future of 2029…Pericles is investigating a giant electromagnetic storm in space but goes off course causing Leo to go in after him. As he crosses through the storm he is transported to the future where Apes now rule Earth when his ship crash lands.

Here is the assessment of the film:

Pros: The Ape Design – I actually liked the updated Ape design, the special effects are updated so they actually look more like humanoid Apes than the ones of the Original Franchise. It isn’t groundbreaking, but it is good.

The Music – It’s Danny Elfman, he doesn’t really have any bad soundtracks, and same goes here.

Got give this movie what pros I can since it is downhill from here.

Okay: Leo – Mark Wahlberg is pretty flat as a character, but he at least has characterization, which is more than can be said in regards to most of the other characters. He isn’t bad, but the script makes him pretty bad. He’s essentially generic, like Brent in “Beneath the Planet of the Apes.”

Colonel Atter – He is General Thade’s second in command but should have been the primary antagonist. They at least had the intent to give him some depth…as seen by his former mentor becoming an enemy (Krull) and the arrival of Pericles at the end (Semos’s second coming to him which lead to them all learning the truth of Semos being bad). Michael Clarke Duncan deserved better than this…

General Krull – The General who Thane dishonors and overthrows and is living with Ari. What he represents is never fully explored and most what we know about him is told to us…at least he doesn’t go against what we are told…if that he would be a con.

Cons: The Script – The Screenplay was written by 3 people (William Broyles Jr., Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal), and it shows. There is a reason this is usually a bad sign. It means there are competing visions and conflict between the director and studio…even barring this though. The dialogue is so flat and there is nothing unique about the characters and civilizations.

The Apes – The Ape Civilization has no depth to it. They have senators but we see not senate or conflict between ideologies…There are different types of apes but all we really see are Gorillas and Chimps getting any sort of exploration. There is religion but we don’t see this…

The Humans – There is nothing here…they are tribal but as blank as the humans who couldn’t speak in the first “Planet of the Apes,” film. If you are going to have character’s speak give them a reason to be. If generic Wahlberg is deep by comparison (in this film) you have a major problem. Their fighting back makes no sense either, or how they find Leo in the Forbidden Zone. We saw no contact with humans on the way there. They had a good reason to fight obviously, but they had no fear of the apes…I guess they knew this movie was a joke too.

The Characters – The characters are all one note, some notes just have slightly longer length than others making them okay and bearable…but the rest are horrible tropes…from loving the mysterious alien (Ari – Helena Bonham Carter’s character), reforming out of nowhere (Limbo and Attar), hatred for no discernible reason (General Thade – Tim Roth’s character, and his father Zaius guest appearing as Charlton Heston) and love interest (Daena played by Estalla Warren) and quite a few other forgettable characters too.

General Thade – He isn’t the worst of the “Planet of the Apes Franchise Retrospect,” baddies so far, but he is still pretty bad. Don’t know why Tim Roth signed up for this. This is ironic a bit too since I just reviewed him in “The Incredible Hulk,” where he was in fact incredible as The Abomination. This time he is just a one note violent, angry general who has no purpose but power…why anyone follows this fool remains a mystery. Most of his actions put his troops at risk or show him as someone who could not stay a leader for long. When he isn’t screaming like a chimp he is angry and doing violence to others. He also never felt like a threat because of how incompetent he was throughout the film.

Victimization of Women – Daena and Ari are the only characters we see get branded. The writers try and fail subverting that when they both see the branding…missing the point that they never choose for themselves, or when they do it is usually at another character’s behest. Ari even offers herself up for sex to Thade who has abused her up to this point.

The Message – What message? That humans and apes should get along? That bad people should die? There was no coherent theme or point…at times it seems to be referencing slavery or animal abuse…but it never goes anywhere with it. They even have Paul Giamatti play a slaver who joins the slaves…but it makes no sense. He abuses them and after is just their friend? Nothing made any sense which accumulated in the ending. How can you miss the point of the source material (and actually having a point) so badly?

The Ending – Pericles arrives…even though he had dropped through the portal first…he saves the day even though him being a Ape who can’t talk isn’t seen as a threat to everything the apes have built their lives on…and suddenly peace? Colonel Attar’s change makes no sense since he is beating up humans and is threatened by them and was fighting them a moment before…and after Leo goes through the storm only to arrive in another future or this future? Where Apes rule the Modern World and Abraham Lincoln was a Chimp…I don’t think I need to say anymore there.

This movie was terrible and had no discernible message or point. What redeemable moments there were existed as “So Bad they were funny.” For example the writing is so flat that when it is hammed up by Tim Roth or spoken sincerely by Mark Wahlberg it feels like an unintended comedy. Thing is it has an even less  coherent narrative than “Beneath the Planet of the Apes,” and no likable or interesting characters…where “Beneath” at least had Zira, Cornelius, Dr. Zaius, Ursus and George Taylor. If you want see how not to make a “Planet of the Apes,” film or how to make a bad film, go take a look at this. It’s been a while since I’ve seen this much talent wasted, considering most of the main characters in this film were played by Oscar Winning actors.

My final Score for this film is 2 / 10.

2 points for the only 2 pros of this film.

Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973): Completing the Original Planet of the Apes Cycle and a Story of Hope

Battle for the Planet of the Apes

      “Battle for the Planet of the Apes,” completes the original Planet of the Apes cycle and is the 5th film of the Planet of the Apes Franchise Retrospect. It brings the story full circle into how things got to be the way they were in the original “Planet of the Apes.” It succeeds at this well while at the same time being an enjoyable film. It carries the themes we’ve seen from the other films forward, which I will go into in the assessment. The film was directed by J. Lee Thompson, who also directed “Battle for the Planet of the Apes.” 

      The premise of “Battle for the Planet of the Apes,” is the Caesar is working to create a city where apes and humans can live in harmony…but General Aldo, leader of the Gorilla faction is causing conflict which later includes humans as an enemy faction when Caesar, Virgil (an Orangutan adviser) and MacDonald (brother of the MacDonald from the last film) go to the dead city to find the archives where the tapes of Cornelius and Zira are located. From here the story unfolds.

Here is the assessment of the film: 

Pros: Caesar – This is Robby McDowell best acting I’ve seen. You see the conflict he feels as a leader and why the people follow him, as well as the reason behind his mistrust of the situation and attempts at idealism and trying to change the future that he learns about from the tapes of his parents. After Aldo injures his son Cornelius they have a really sweet moment with his son is injured and dying… 

Virgil – He is the calm and soft spoken intellectual. He knows about radiation and is the philosopher (living up to his name). He is friends with MacDonald and and is the only counter to Aldo later on. 

MacDonald – Is also friend of Caesar and one of the few calm heads in this movie. He is the one who advises returning the Dead City, which is also a good idea…though in a way it creates the future by the action since it gives Aldo and the Governor the excuses they need. 

Mendez – One of the mutants and one of the calm heads in the city. He showed what I wanted to see with the Gorillas…but what we never get in this series. All Gorillas are war mad…at least the mutants have Mendez to counter the madness of the Governor. 

The Mutants and Dead City – This movie captures the Post Apocalypse better than the other films that take place in the future of this world. From the dead city with the radiation, to the mutants who are weak and mad and the broken down vehicles used for military purposes. The exploration of the city and conflict among the mutants was one of my favorite parts.

The Final Battle – The final battle is great. Apes with tech. and mutant humans in mad max vehicles facing off against each other. It captures the cruelty and violence of it all. 

The Confrontation – Virgil confronts Aldo with the knowledge that he murdered Cornelius turning the Gorillas (yay they aren’t mindless violent creatures in this series!) and the rest of the apes against him. It ends on top of a tree with Caesar confronting him with the truth of his actions before he tries to kill Caesar and plummets to his death in the same way Cornelius was killed. 

The Hope – The is the only film to end with hope. The Lawgiver, a Moses type Orangutan is teaching children of apes and humans the story of Caesar and the dream of peace…he also recounted the movies up to this point at the beginning. We see Caesar’s statue cry…but this is also the only time where the final hasn’t ended in mass annihilation or the killing of protagonists or the coming war…hope, what these movies lacked, this one had. 

Okay: Governor Kolp – He is evil and he knows it. He isn’t over the top either in how he plays it too. Severn Darden does quite well. Just wish we had got more of his motivation and more character behind how he was ruling beyond (attack the outsiders!). 

The lead up to war – Aldo should have had more depth. He is the first ape antagonist who has no depth and terrible action. He reminds me of Governor Breck from the last film. Governor Kolp is a little better but he never listens to cooler heads…he at least as the excuse of madness though.  

General Aldo – We see him feel guilt at the end, making him okay. But like Kolp he isn’t a pro. Otto was the best protagonist besides Dr. Zaius and General Ursus. Dr. Zaius being the most complex and greatest of these antagonists of the original series. 

The music – Isn’t super memorable. 

 Cons: Lagged – If some scenes had been shorter (the confrontation, the battle, exploration of the Dead City) it would have been stronger. Some scenes feel like they go on a little too long. But that is the only con. 

    I definitely recommend this film. It is strong on it’s own and completes the Original Planet of the Apes Series Cycle. It is worth it for Caesar and Virgil alone, but MacDonald and the mutants are also fantastic…and we even see complexity among the Gorillas a little bit. I personally would recommend the series as a whole, even though “Planet of the Apes,” the original film didn’t need sequels. The sequels add some fascinating characters and tackle some interesting ideas and even some great drama and action.

 I’m giving this film an 8.5 / 10. The ending and exploration of civilizations elevate beyond being just a good film. Is definitely a favorite. 

Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972): A Good Idea Poorly Executed

Conquest of the Planet of the Apes

“Conquest of the Planet of the Apes,” has a great premise. It is the rise of Caesar the revolutionary who creates the City of the Apes we saw in the first two films. We get to see the basis of why he and the apes rebelled, which gives a great chance to explore the reasons behind revolution. Sadly, the execution is not nearly as good as it could have been.

Here is the assessment of the film:

Pros: Caesar – Caesar or Milo son of Cornelius and Zira (and played by Roddy McDowall who played Cornelius, does a great job! The problem is we don’t see a gradual change. We see him witness the enslavement of the apes after the disease Milo, Cornelius or Zira brought back kills them all. He is great as a character though and his interaction with Ricardo Montalban’s Armando is fantastic. Armando is his hope for humanity so when the Police State that has arisen kills him he snaps. Sadly he is the only ape who is any sort of character…the rest are just masses without any unique characterization or individuals among them. He eventually goes power mad though and shows no mercy. He becomes the antagonist by the end (which makes me think he forgot about his friends at the Circus). It is tragic how he forgets about the good humans and becomes as they are by the end. He lays down the rules of the Ape World we see at the beginning (treat humanity with compassion as servants).

Armando – Ricardo Montalban is once again great. I see why he was killed (to motivate Caesar to action), but he was one of the only interesting human characters besides MacDonald.

MacDonald – Played by Hari Rhodes, he is Governer Breck’s (the antagonists) assistant and sympathizes with the apes because of the history of race in America and all it took for African Americans to gain rights and freedom. He is an interesting character who I wish had got more screen time with Caesar. His confrontation at the end is powerful too as he tries to reason with Caesar to seek compromise.

Okay: The Music – Is nothing special and doesn’t elevate the production.

The Revolution – It isn’t bad…but I really wouldn’t call it exciting either. Seeing the apes get weapons is cool…but when they join Caesar all he has to do is look at them…this was poorly done. If people join you they have to connect with you, which usually involves language (“Rise of the Planet of Apes,” did this a lot better).

The Ending – “Tonight we have seen the birth of the Planet of the Apes.” Caesar’s final line after he is reminded to show kindness…ironically he creates the world they were fighting against though with Apes as the new masters and God as the justification. The strongest scene is the “No,” one of the apes says while holding Governor Breck’s dead body which leads to Caesar laying down the premise of Planet of the apes and the new Master and Servant relationship.

Cons: Governor Breck – Is the hammiest of antagonists. He is bad for the sake of being bad. He justified slavery and after was surprised when the slaves rebelled. He was needlessly cruel to everyone around him and was a bigger one note baddie than any villain prior.

The Apes – They aren’t characters just representations of the working class and the powerless. I would have liked to see someone speak for their experiences besides Caesar who was an outsider to their experiences. One does speak at the end after Caesar’s call for humanity’s annihilation with the words, “No.” Which is great. More of this would have been nice.

The length – It is one of the shorter of the films but if feels longer. Especially on scenes where there is Governor Breck or just ape to ape interaction. This is a shame since the Ape characters were always the best thing about this series up to this point.

This film was better than “Beneath the Planet of the Apes,” but not as good as “Escape From…” and “Planet of the Apes,” the Original. It had a lot of good ideas but doesn’t really get them until the end and after it is too late. The ideas should have been captured and expressed earlier. Governor Breck as an antagonist doesn’t help…MacDonald would have been a much better antagonist and keeping Armando alive longer could have helped the story…as well as making the police state more subtle.

I’d check it out if you are curious to see the first Caesar that appeared on screen. Just know you’ll probably watching simply an okay film.

Final score is 7 / 10.