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Planet of the APES

August 12, 2011

I was going to review the GOP Presidential debate, but it reminded me that I saw Planet of the Apes and it deserves a review first.  Presidential Monkeys will be next, I promise.

You should know that I ran around in grade school with a bright red and blue t-shirt with a puffed Planet of the Apes logo from the first version with Charlie Heston and the inimitable Rodney McDowell (the movie, not the shirt).  It was wonderfully (and racistly) themed around American slavery, bringing the plight of slavery closer to home than civil war studies.  Hence my total dislike of Tim Burton’s horrible PotA (hey, I’ll have to watch that again so I can loathe it all over again).

Knowing that, you can now plunge into my appreciation of the new Planet of the Apes.  Wonderfully done, kept the revolutionary theme without the racism (though it still had a very sad rendition of “get your stinking paws off me, you damn, dirty ape!”  Charlie Heston is rolling in his grave, which, if you recall his ending girth, takes some effort.)

Instead, the filmmakers decided to take shots at science and greedy corporations (such fertile fields).

Heading towards Alzheimer’s myself, if my current memory is any indication, I appreciated the goal of curing that dread disease.  It also allowed John Lithgow to prove himself a masterful actor once again, and even James Franco wasn’t all that unbelievable.

CGI was great for close ups and iffy for long shots (not enough weight and sag to the movements).  And yet it was good enough to kick me out of my suspension of disbelief.  Caesar as a baby was cute; as a youngster, cute.  But suddenly he wasn’t so cute anymore at 5 years old.   I believe the director made the choice to keep the facial animation minimized to avoid cartoonism.  We saw the intelligence, concern, but almost always resentment, which when Caesar was over five feet tall, for me, became scary (okay, I’m a coward, so my threshold is low).

Two years ago, a pet chimp smaller than Caesar chewed the hands and face off of a non-threatening woman (she recently got a face transplant, which only gives me marginally less shivers than the face coming off).  I simply could not believe a knowledgeable zoo keeper and a brainy scientist wouldn’t have seen Caesar as dangerous.

And, of course, the idea that the Redwoods were “just over the bridge” from ‘Frisco was way beyond the pale.  As big as the redwoods are, I’m pretty sure you couldn’t see San Fran from the tops of the trees, let alone get to them on foot from the Golden Gate Bridge.

Other than those flaws, the movie was great.  It had a couple big surprises, which shouldn’t have been surprises, but the director was that good.

I look forward to the next movie.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 12, 2011 4:28 pm

    Nice review. We tried to go see this last night but it was sold out. Did you get beat up a lot as a kid? That shirt was probably like a target.

  2. August 13, 2011 8:27 am

    I was on crutches in grade school, which made marvelous weapons, so bullies kept their distance. 🙂 That was time period where advertising on t-shirts was brand new. Had the star wars shirt, the Logan’s Run shirt. Life was good. Except for the not-walking part.

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