Take Your Hands Off Me You Damned Dirty Ape! - Franchise Review
Prior to watching War for the Planet of the Apes, I thought I'd rewatch the prior films. Also prior to this viewing, I had only seen the original and the 2001 version with Mark Wahlberg. There will be some spoilers so you have been warned. The characters in these films are loosely based on the 1963 French novel La Plane des Singes by Pierre Boulle. What's interesting is that with the original series that they came out every year aside from the gap between the first and second. Imagine if that was today!
Planet of the Apes (1968):
When I was younger, I watched the 2001 version and thought that I should check out the original that it was based on. With the ending that you know even without seeing its still a great film to experience. Astronaut George Taylor (Charlton Heston) crash-lands on a planet ruled by apes and the remaining humans are mute. Through the entire film, there exists an unknown that keeps you wondering what happened to the planet. There are some scenes with no speaking but due to the wonder and the musical score, it's still enticing. Personally out of the characters in this film, I was less interested in Taylor and Nova (Linda Harrison) more so in Cornelius (Roddy McDowall), Zira (Kim Hunter), and the manipulative Dr. Zaius (Maurice Evans). The look of the ape characters is obviously a little dated but for it's time, the makeup was great. There aren't many flaws with this film aside from the known ending.
Rating: 4.5/5.0 bowties
Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970):
Had I watched this film when it came out, I would have been really annoyed. Why? Because the premise is basically the same as the first one. An astronaut (named Brent this time) lands on this strange planet and doesn't know where or what time he is. Taylor has gone missing and the only person who saw him leave is Nova who still can't talk. Brent (James Fanciscus) and her travel underground and discover the ruins of New York. Here they meet mutants that once were humans that wear masks of their own faces, communicate telepathically, and worship a nuclear bomb. Silly? Yes. Dumb? Yes. Unnecessary? Yes. I was happy when the planet blew up at the end.
Rating: 1.5/5.0 bowties
Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1970):
After the annoyance of the last film, I was very hesitant to continue but I was glad that I did. What this film did was take the apes you knew from the prior films, Cornelius and Zira and also a Dr. Milo (Sal Mineo) and put them in "current" time. Intially, they are looked at like scientific marvels and are given the best of the best. You see Cornelius dressed in a fine suit and Zira going on a shopping spree. It was a refreshing take on the bleak future that was to come later in time. You see Zira taking a bubble bath and drinking "grape juice plus" (wine). Is this the best film? No but it is quite enjoyable and honestly has a lot of power in the final third of the film. After Zira giving birth to Milo and Cornelius accidentally killing a guard, they are looked at as threats. They are eventually gunned down which ws sad as I enjoyed them more than the human characters in all of the films. Its not perfect as it attempts to juggle ideas of the existence of God, time alterations, and slavery while giving you a decent plot. I would watch it again though as it is a good film.
Rating: 3.5/5.0 bowties.
Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972):
When it comes to this film, I am conflicted. It has a lot of good things that would later inspire the newest reboot films. Ten years has passed since the events of the prior film and humans have completely enslaved the apes of the world. Caeser/Milo after seeing the cruelty of mankind leads a revolution against them. I enjoyed the film but I felt it was just carrying over from the prior film. You see humans having distaste for the apes but it was due to Caeser/Milo's parents and not him. I just didn't feel the same level of connection to him as to his parents. But this film was good and I could definitely watch it again.
Rating: 3.5/5.0 bowties.
Battle of the Planet of the Apes (1973):
This film follows the events of the prior film and Caeser is attempting to keep peace between humans and apes. Talk about a snooze-fest...this film was absolutely boring. You know what's going to happen because this film is essentially a prequel to the original film. The humans are uninteresting and the apes for the most part are as well. Aside from some interesting discussion between Caesar and his wife Lisa (Natalie Trundy) looking at necessity of violence. There is also a gorilla general, Aldo (Claude Akins), who wants to be more agressive with the humans. This is clearly executed better in the later reboots. This film has boring action scenes and really was a pain to watch.
Rating: 1.0/5.0 bowties
Planet of the Apes (2001):
Like I said previously, this was my first introduction to the franchise. I saw this film and was engulfed by the universe. At the time, I was really into Tim Burton so I really loved this film. The makeup and costumes were fantastic and still to this day, I feel they are impressive. I loved seeing all the well known stars in this film as apes. However on the rewatch, it was not as good as I remembered. While the practical effects on the apes were still great, the issues were with the humans. You don't care for them but then you don't really care for the apes either. The only really interesting one was Thade (Tim Roth) and he was the villian so you did not want him to succeed. Also there was a weird romantic triangle between Daena (Estella Warren), Ari (Helena Bonham Carter), and Leo (Mark Wahlberg). They developed and then went no where like the ending. The final battle scene was average and I feel rushed. I don't really have that much of an issue with the ending because at the time they were going to make sequels. However, the good makeup and Roth's performance do jot save this film that honestly tries too hard to be the original that it doesn't do anything really innovative with the story. I would say it was more enjoyable than Beneath and Battle though.
Rating: 2.0/5.0 bowties
Rise of Planet of the Apes (2011):
So like I said, I had not seen these reboots prior to now. Nothing against them but I just did not care. I knew there was hype but I just had other priorities. Now that I've seen them. This Planetof the Apes reboot was really good. I coukd understand why people loved the film so much. The star of this film is Andy Serkis playing Caeser. Yes, James Franco and Freida Pinto do good jobs but I was counting the seconds until I could see Caeser again. This film took Conquest and gave a more endearing story about Caeser. You see how he progresses throughout the film and you see why he does what he does.There are obvious allusions to the prior films but you don't have to get them to enjoy the film. I also personally was attached to the intelligence procedure that Franco and his team were doing. It added depth to his character and how he just wanted to help his father be cured of Alzheimer's. As I have dealt with that struggle with my grandmother myself this was a great addition to the story. It added some siginficance to the humans that didn't take too much away from Caeser's arc. I also loved seeing a lot of well known actors in this film such as John Lithgow, Brian Cox, Tom Felton, David Oyelowo. I will say the middle of the film is a little slow but it's not terribly bad. Some of the CGI on the apes looked a little off from time to time but most of it was fine.
Rating: 4.0/5.0 bowties
Dawn of Planet of the Apes (2014):
This film does precisely what a sequel should do, expand on the prior film. Caesar is ruling over the apes that escaped with him in the prior film. Serkis really is fantastic here. You see emotions even with the mask of Caeser covering his face. It is absolutely fantastic! The ideas of this film are clearly derived from Battle but in a more effective way. Similar to that film, Caesar disagrees with the agressive Koba (Toby Kebbell), an ape who was tested on by Oyelowo's character in the prior film. The apes are mostly talking through ASL which makes for some great scenes. I loved the silence of the original film which this was similar to. The humans are secondary again led by Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, and Kodi Smit-McPhee though they are given more development than the prior film. This film is able to keep you tense for two hours even when the outcome is obvious. The story is very similar to Shakespeare's Julius Caeser and this film shows the two films are similar to the first two Godfather films. Hopefully the third firm won't be like that though.The last point is the only real negative about it as it isn't an original story. But the film is really great addition to the franchise and could be debate as the best in the franchise comparebly to the original.
Rating: 4.5/5.0 bowties
War for the Planet of the Apes (2017):
Going in to this, I am expecting the film to be better or equal to the first two films in the reboot series. I have loved how they have expanded on the Caeser character throughout the films and hope they continue to do so. I also can't wait to see how the film uses Woody Harrelson. The average rating for the Planet of the Apes series is 3.1 which is between "good but unenjoyable" and "good but enjoyable" in my book. This film, I expect, will bring this score up.
Here's my review on War for the Planet of the Apes!
What did you all think of the films? Let me know in the comments section.
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