Tag Archives: Cornelius

War for the Planet of the Apes (2017): Growing Beyond Caesar

“War for the Planet of the Apes” is easily the best of the Franchise. This is a film series I reviewed back when the blog was beginning that shows just how strong the new series has held up (Given “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” is number 1 for me until today and “Dawn” is in the Top 5″ of the series). This is a series that deserves far more credit than it has been given as it has tacked social and political issues while never forgetting the character arc of Caesar which drives the series to it’s conclusion in this film (please no more after this). This is the perfect end as Caesar’s arc is completed and we see how this series ties into the classic series completing the time cycle that has played throughout all these films. I’ll explain more in below, but for now, this a series that might make my Top 5 for this year and is easily the best of the series, both Classic and New.

‘War for the Planet of the Apes” was directed by Matt Reeves, who co wrote it along with Mark Bomback with the producers being Peter Chernin, Dylan Clark, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver.

The story involves the last remnants of humanity seeking to annihilate the apes under the Colonel as the virus takes away speech and the human and ape populations are on the risk of extinction, as Caesar seeks peace and home away from the struggle.

SPOILERS

The Pros: The World – The reboot world has been nothing but good for me as a re-imagining of the apocalypse. We get to see the forest slowly take over the human settlements as the apes gain more power through the spread of the Simian Flu (the virus that kills off humanity and also has other affects). Hell, there is whole mini-series before “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” that shows the viruses decimation of mankind. It is tragic and beautiful and this film is the final payoff where militaristic mankind losing itself to the virus faces off against the apes set to inherit the world.

The Poisonous of Nationalistic Ideology – The villain of this film is portrayed through the Colonel in Woody Harrelson who is ready to kill humanity when they lose speech, which the Simian Flu has been causing since dawn. This leads to his enslavement of the apes and his turning on his own people who won’t kill their own as he sees this separation as speech as something worth ending, even if it is his son. This is powerful as he has lost himself to his belief and was willing to kill family for it, even as he became it and kills himself and all his abuse of the apes is for nothing…he is a powerless man in a world that has left him behind and he is tragic, but not sympathetic, a good villain.

Caesar and his Team – Caesar and his team are great. You have Maurice as the heart who teaches sign language to the human Nova (who Caesar kills in self-defense), you have Rocket you has been around as the Scotty/Chekov always standing by his captain and Luca, a hardened warrior who finds heart and dies to protect Caesar, and Nova herself who comes to love her adopted family and helps save the apes from the Human Nationalists.

The Ghost of Hate – Caesar has dreams of Kuba as his desire to kill the Colonel (and revenge against humanity for the death of his son too) consumes him. It is powerful and Serkis shows so much emotion in his lines and visions of Kuba telling him to die or to get revenge. This ghost haunts him until he finds an identity beyond himself and Nationalism. In the end, Caesar grows beyond his tribe.

A World Beyond Caesar – A major arc of this series is showing that the apes have an arc beyond Caesar, as does humanity. Humanity is killed because of their fight against themselves, not against the apes. The apes find peace and Caesar dies at the Oasis. Caesar’s arc is complete where no longer has hate and helped his people find more, as Nova is part of their tribe. This is powerful as it shows even in that Caesar is dead and humanity killed itself, it paradoxically lives on in the best of the survivors via Nova. Even when hope is dead, it can still live on.

Okay/Con: A Too Long Ending – This movie has a bit of “Return of the King” going on, as there are a few points it could have ended…Caesar spares the Colonel, the apes escape the prison, the apes survive the avalanche, and finally, the apes find the Oasis. Either of these could have been when Caesar dies from his injuries but they wait for the Oasis. I didn’t hate it, but it did show how long this movie went.

This is a film that might make my Top 5 at the end of the year and is the best of the “Planet of the Apes” Franchise.” It beats Rises as we are given reasons to sympathize with the villains and unlike “Dawn” the stakes and cost are that much higher. This is a wonderful end to an amazing Franchise and I hope they don’t do anything else with it, as there are enough Easter eggs here to tigh into the original “Planet of the Apes” that if you want to catch, I’d advise you see as they only add to the amazing story that takes place here.

Also, here is my past retrospect of the “Planet of the Apes Franchise”: https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2014/07/11/planet-of-the-apes-franchise-retrospect-worst-to-best-of-the-franchise/

Final Score: 9.8 / 10 The best of the “Planet of the Apes Franchise.”

 

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 2, Episode 11 – “Lightsaber Lost” – Learning Patience

Lightsaber Lost

    “Lightsaber Lost” is a good adventure episode that lets us explore Coruscant further and give Ahsoka good character development. It makes good use of the limited time to tell a good story, though some of the quotes from the Prequels are problematic and they come up here at the end. I’ll get into what I mean later.

      The episode was directed by Giancarlo Volpe and written by Drew Z. Greenberg.

       The story involves Ahsoka’s quest to retake her lightsaber after a pickpocket on the lower levels sells it. As she investigates in her search from it Jedi Master Sinube works with her as he has not gone on an adventure for a long time and he specializes in the study of Coruscant’s criminal underworld.

The Pros: The Action – This is a good action episode as we see Ahsoka chasing a bounty hunter across the underworld of Coruscant and even into traffic as they jump from floating board to floating board. It’s a really cool action sequence.

Jedi Master Sinube – Sinube is an old Jedi who is super smart and slow. We see him figure out that the girlfriend murdered the boyfriend and he helps Ahsoka find them and learn patience. He is a great Jedi Master.

Ahsoka – Ahsoka is shown to be a lot like Anakin, from her attachment to her lightsaber, her willingness to attack for information first rather than question and how she jumps into everything without looking. She learns to step back from all of that though thanks to Sinube.

Palpatine’s Speech – This is a small note but I liked it. On his video to the public Palpatine is saying some suspect that the Jedi are trying to take over the government due to their expanding power during the war, he disagrees and asks for more wartime powers for himself and the Jedi…it’s a powerful sequence that is setting up the later fall of the Jedi really well. The public is already questioning them if they think they plan a government takeover.

The Cons: The Minor Characters – Everyone in the underworld isn’t fleshed out. The pickpocket is just a coward and has no motivation beyond greed, and the woman who killed her boyfriend and the bounty hunter are never given reasons for stealing the lightsaber and why they think it is so important. I never got reasons for anything they did, so even though they did the murder we never learn why beyond the lightsaber. This was poor writing on Greenberg’s part.

Your Lightsaber is Your Life – This is a messed up idea and one that Ahsoka tells the younglings. It is this mentality that makes the Jedi more of a military order than anything else and with it also cult like tendencies too. Your life is your life and the lightsaber is a weapon to protect your life and the lives of others. This was first mentioned in Episode II and I hate that it made a comeback too. Yoda at Dagoba was big on weapons not being the way of the Jedi and wars not making a person great, though I guess the Prequels changed that…in my opinion for the worse.

   This was a fun episode that is worth checking out. The murder mystery could have been a lot better but Ahsoka and Sinube have a great dynamic and it was fun seeing Ahsoka’s recklessness getting her into trouble that she had to get herself out of. She’s a flawed Jedi and that is part of what makes her so interesting as a character.

Final Score: 7 / 10

“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.

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. 

Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971): The Hope of Ape and Humankind

Escape from the Planet of the Apes

We continue our Planet of the Apes Franchise Retrospect with “Escape from the Planet of the Apes.” “Escape from the Planet of the Apes,” is a lot of fun and actually a really good film. For once we have more than one interesting human character and we have Zira and Cornelius as the primary protagonists! Paul Dehn did a great job writing this film and Don Taylor did great work as his only directing debut in the Original Planet of the Apes Series.

The premise is that Cornelius, Zira and Dr. Milo rebuild Brent’s spaceship and use to travel into the past as Earth is destroyed by Taylor at the end of the last film. They travel back in time to the 1970s. It is here that the humans are confused about what to do with the Apes but eventually they become celebrities before the truth of their world and actions come to light. From here the story unfolds.

Here is the assessment of the film:

The Music – The music is comedic and fantastical initially but later takes on the themes of the past music of Original Planet of the Apes series.

The Premise – It turns the other movie on it’s head and reveals the point of the first movie. We are the apes (though better to the talking chimps initially than they ever were with the exception of Zira and Cornelius…this is mirrored in Stephanie and Lewis…the two kind scientists of this film). The film is also fun which is easy since Zira and Cornelius were already the funnest characters in the franchise thus far and them being in an alien environment was great for jokes and for making a point about us.

Pros: Dr. Milo – He is the third chimp to travel back in time and the one to figure out how to repair and pilot the ship. He is only around for the first third of the film before an angry gorilla kills him but he leaves a mark, having been the unofficial leader of the group.

Zira – This is where we see Zira’s pros and cons more clearly. Her pros are her passion, strength, compassion and intellect. Her cons are her disconnect towards idiot man in the past (the future of where they are currently) and how easily she is manipulated by kindness. She speaks for the rights of women in this at one point, which is very well done. By far my favorite character in the series thus far though.

Cornelius – Cornelius is fantastic in this film. He is a kind and loving partner and is good at reading situations. His biggest con is inability to take insults and have patience. Those things are what lead to the excuse those who want to hunt them need to execute them and their unborn baby.

Stephanie and Lewis – Are great as Cornelius and Zira’s human counterparts in our world. It is their compassion and action that allows for Zira and Cornelius’s legacy to live on…you’ll see what I mean later. They are the only ones who truly look out for them except for their friend Armando.

The President – Well intentioned but ambitious. He is sympathetic to the apes but comes around against them after Zira’s words are used against her and he abuses the trust as well as never fully recognizing them as people. Still a complex character though, his scenes are a lot of fun. William Windom did great.

Dr. Otto – Is the Dr. Zaius of the film. He speaks of preventing the rise of Hitler and destruction of mankind by killing the apes and their child. He is eventually able to convince the President to this course of action as well. He is a great antagonist and it is rewarding when Cornelius kills him (though he manages to kill Zira and the fake Milo in the process). Eric Braedon does a good job.

Armondo – Is a circus leader played by Ricardo Montalbán. This actor has always impressed me (especially in the Original Star Trek Franchise and “The Wrath of Khan”) He played a fantastic Khan and he plays a great hero in this film. In this film he switches babies in order for Milo (later to be Caesar) may live.

Time Travel – Time Travel is a pro in this for a reason. Infinite regression is explained as to why the Chimps know the future (the data on the spaceship) and how the only one who can see the full picture is the one who has come before and is looking back at what has already happened. Otto is a counterpoint to that with his action to prevent the future and end of the Earth. I wonder if everything will come full circle or if like the “Terminator” franchise there will be the option to change the future. We shall see as I keep watching during this retrospect.

The Narrative – Is tight and focused. Zira and Cornelius were two of the best parts of the last two movies and seeing them grow and change their views of themselves (Zira thinking she shouldn’t have done testing on humans after the tests done on them, Cornelius with learning to trust very few (Zira learns this too).

Ethics – Ethics are explored in this film with a hypothetical. Is animal testing wrong if said animals develop the ability to communicate like us and ask the questions we ask? What if we become like the animals in having a much more limited intelligence in regards to asking those questions and civilization. It asks an interesting quandary and does it in a respectful manner in which we learn more about the characters and in doing so our world. The perfect showing and not telling.

The Ending – Zira and Cornelius sacrifice themselves to save their child and from that point we see why Milo their child becomes Caesar. His parents were killed by Xenophobic humanity and failed to see the development apes were going through. This is the seed of the Ape Revolution.

Cons: Prejudice towards the other Apes – We see a distrust and looking down on Gorillas especially but also Orangutans by Zira and Cornelius. We never see any good versions of Gorillas or Orangutans but the whole “Chimpanzees are pacifists,” seems like a cop-out. It is claiming superiority rather than judging the whole. I wish they’d been confronted by this since even though they were bad Zaius and Ursus were at least complex characters.

There really aren’t many cons to this film and it achieves the purpose of the first film. It shows us ourselves through the eyes of apes. Though in the first movie…we were the apes, in this one it is the apes showing our better nature and we overall representing our worst. This movie make me look forward to the final too and is definitely a favorite. Cornelius and Zira can carry a film the way Brent and Nova and Taylor and Nova never could…partially because Zira and Cornelius are flawed but represent our potential and truths of who and what we are. Their deaths meant something and the characters who supported them were more than ideas and archetypes…they were complex characters actually arguing well for an alternative view or fear…Which in turn made the point of the film and the lives of Zira and Cornelius all that much stronger.

I highly recommend this film.

9.5 / 10

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

Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) – Not Enough Time with the Apes

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

 

“Beneath the Planet of the Apes,” was the last of the original “Planet of the Apes” series I saw. I remember how much it weirded me out initially and when I heard about the time travel plot of the next movie didn’t have much desire to watch on. Now that time has passed, it is better than what I remember, but still has a lot of problems.

The premise of this movie picks up where the first film left off. Taylor has seen the destroyed Statue of Liberty and that humanity destroyed itself and he and Nova continue deeper into the Forbidden Zone. While they are there Taylor goes missing and a new astronaut named Brent arrives on the planet to find the astronauts who went missing. The story picks up with him as he finds Nova and the story unfolds from there.

Pros: The music – The music is once again great and haunting. It captures the post apocalyptic feel really well.

Zira – Zira is once again one of the strongest characters. The sad thing is we only see her in the middle of the film when she takes in Brent and Nova and helps them escape. She is the one who is idealistic and lives through action. She doesn’t speak up when Cornelius hits her though (which is one of the horrid themes in this film). Great job, once again to Kim Hunter.

Dr. Zaius – Dr. Zaius is once again one of the strongest characters. When he and General Ursus enter the Forbidden Zone, it is he who risks the illusion of the burning and bleeding lawgiver to reveal to the army it is an illusion. Maurice Evans is once again one of the strongest actors.

General Ursus – He is simple but is great in his own way. He is the first named Gorilla to appear in any of the films and is the primary protagonist of this film (Dr. Zaius didn’t want to conquer the Forbidden Zone). He is Xenophobic and and a tyrant showing the dangers of unchecked military power especially when it is backed by religious authority (Dr. Zaius). James Gregory does a great job.

The idea of the Mutants – I think the Mutants in execution weren’t done so well. But they are needlessly evil and crazy. I would have liked at least one good mutant just like we see good apes via the Chimpanzees. The idea of people twisted by Nuclear War and worshiping death is pretty cool though. I think they were trying to critique the worship of death that can happen in some religions, it just wasn’t executed very well.

George Taylor – For what little time he is around, Charlton Heston does a great job. He has a lot more emotion and character than Brent who is a character akin to Nova except he can speak.

Okay: Cornelius – His character is the one once again trying to save face, though still carry on the knowledge of the past. He hits Zira for no reason though and threatens to do so again which is why I will not put him as a pro. It is like needless character assassination to have his character do that.

SPOILERS

The Ending – Everyone dies. This would have been more powerful if we’d had more time with the characters we cared about or Nova and Brent had actually been fleshed out as characters. The Bomb that the mutants worship is used to destroy the Earth.

Cons: The violence against women – I bring this up because it happens a lot in this film. From the mutants using Brent to abuse and rape Nova…to Cornelius hitting Zira. The women are only in this movie to be victims…accumulating in Nova being killed by the apes when the apes invade the Underground.

The Execution of the Themes – The execution of the themes was very poor. I can see them trying to critique religion via the worshipers of the Bomb but no religion worships technology and their words ended up being more comedic than meaningful or critical. “The Holy Fallout.” As an expression for an example. They also could have used how religion can turn people against one another…but all they manage to capture is the hypocrisy of some religious claiming their religion to be peaceful while condoning or acting with violence. The military as a weapon of corrupt authority is never fully explored either since we don’t know what happened to the Chimp protesters since we never see them after their appearance and Ursus never does anything to Zira or Cornelius even though they are heretics.

No Protagonist and Lack of Focus – There are a few people who drive the plot at different points…Taylor at the beginning and end, and Brent through the middle and Zira at one point too. We also have Dr. Zaius drive it at a few points as well whether for or against Ursus. This lack of focus took away from the narrative of the story.

Brent – Is a cipher. He is an uninteresting hero who is easily used by everyone around him. In that way he is comparable to Nova. The script didn’t help flesh him out as a character (he’s the standard hero looking for the group that had landed on the planet before) but the acting doesn’t help. He’s a very forgettable character.

Nova – Is the victim and empty vessel again. She is kidnapped countless times, strangled and near raped by Brent when is being mind controlled by the mutants and in the end killed by the apes. Victimization is all her character is.

Plot holes – Zira and Cornelius were supposed to be charged with heresy as of the end of the last film. This is never brought up again and instead they are made to be leaders of the Academy when Dr. Zaius joins Ursus’s expedition. This is never explained.

This movie is a bit of an unfocused, at times sexist mess with some really intriguing ideas that it doesn’t give full credit for. It was an okay movie and would have been stronger if more time was spent with the apes. It really goes downhill once we’re with the Mutants since that is where the weakest critique and the most grotesque violence is. The Mutants have no complexity and no Chimpanzee faction which takes away from the critique too. Every group as members that are agnostic or against the philosophy expressed by the dominant group. I would still tentatively recommend this film. It didn’t need to made since “Planet of the Apes,” is a solid film on it’s own…but it has some interesting ideas and the time with the Apes are mostly fantastic. More time with the Apes could have made this a good film.

Next we’ll be doing the 3rd movie in the Original Series in this Planet of the Apes Franchise Retrospect – “Escape from the Planet of the Apes.”

My final score for this film is 6 / 10. Slightly above average.

Planet of the Apes (1968) – We Are the Apes

Planet of the Apes 1968

The Original “Planet of the Apes,” is a movie that I remember a little about going in…I remember the iconic scene at the end and some of the memorable lines voiced by Charlton Heston…but beyond that I could remember very little of the details because it had been so long since I’d originally watched it.

“Planet of the Apes,” was directed by Franklin J. Schaffner and had make-up design by John Chambers who won awards for the design of Spock in Star Trek and for the groundbreaking design of the Apes in this film and franchise.

The premise of the film is that three astronauts crash on Earth, losing the only woman in their crew. They don’t know what planet they have landed on but come to discover the world is dominated by Apes with an advanced social structure and civilization and full of humans who are mute and like small brained animals. George Taylor (Charlton Heston) is the primary protagonist and from whose eyes we see events unfold.

Here is the assessment of the film:

Pros: The World – The world of the “Planet of the Apes,” is fascinating. We see a world with complex social structures (Orangutans as Priests, Lawyers and Judges, Gorillas as workers and military and Chimpanzees as scientists and intellectuals). There is conflict between the chimps and the other social classes as expressed through the Chimpanzee protagonists of Zira and Cornelius.

The Make-up – There is a reason that this make-up was so groundbreaking. The prosthetics show the diversity of the Gorillas, Chimps and Orangutans and when they speak it looks like they are actually speaking. Emotion is seen in their expressions.

Zira and Cornelius – Zira and Cornelius are great. Zira is the idealist who takes chances and risks and in the process finds the truth of who George is. Cornelius is fantastic as well. He begins as fearful because of how he was punished for entering the Forbidden Zone where a past simian species was located. He comes around though as he comes to know George. Roddy McDowell and Kim Hunter do amazingly as their characters.

Dr. Zaius – Is the primary protagonist of the film who has some idea of what happened to humanity on this world. He uses religion to suppress free thought and punish heretics who go against the holy book. He is authority corrupt and a complex antagonist which makes him interesting. Maurice Evans does great. His final critique of humanity is perfect (The place where you were was once a paradise, not it is a wasteland…giving us our first hints of the truth of this world).

George Taylor – The anti-authority figure does a great job of fighting the power as represented by Zaius. He is able to build a bridge with Zira and attempts to with Nova…his actions drive the plot. He also sees the truth of his astronaut companions such as one who was seeking immortality as a reason for leaving Earth on the voyage.

The Trial of George Taylor – I really liked the trial scene. We have a tribunal of Orangutans who ignore every claim put before them. We also see them silence George when he is putting up a good defense. It is the perfect corrupt trial and we see later that it was all a ploy to get Zira and Cornelius charged with heresy and to find out where George’s tribe is in order to exterminate them.

The Reveal and Ending- The Planet of the Apes is Earth. We destroyed ourselves with Nuclear Weapons and war leading to the rise of our ape brethren. It is brilliant and desolate and a great warning about the future. Fact is another movie didn’t need to be made after this since the ending is so complete.

We Are the Apes – We are the ones who fear truth and discovery like Dr. Zaius. People in our species wish to suppress thoughts that go against their religious ideology and people are still killed for heresy today and science in the classroom is replaced by myths in some extreme religious settings. This message is profound and warning. In our fear of truth and knowledge and want for power we could destroy ourselves…We create structures where abuse can happen and ideology and can. We are the apes the movie presents as the antagonists except for those who are seeking knowledge and truth.

The Music – I loved the music. It captured the primitive world that Earth had become and gave a sense of discovery and urgency. Jerry Goldsmith did a fantastic job.

Cons: Nova – She is an empty character who is just their to love the protagonist. Here is to hoping she gets development in the other movies. She is a blank slate.

The Crew – The astronaut crew isn’t all that interesting. They are there just to die. (Also the black astronaut dies first). They were never fully fleshed out and seem to represent ideals. None of them receive the development George does.

Lucius – Another example of an idiotic child actor. All he does is whine and say that he’s a rebel. He doesn’t do anything but help Zira and Cornelius and more often than not needs to be rescued. Whenever he is helping he is whining.

The Original “Planet of the Apes,” is a classic for a reason. It provides an excellent critique of some of the problems today as well as some of the problems in the past and even shows us what it sees as the way out…giving it’s desolate ending a bit of bittersweetness. I would definitely call it a favorite film.

My Final Score for this film is 9 / 10. Definitely recommend.