The Planet of the Apes Franchise

Started by Silver Nemesis, Sun, 16 Jul 2017, 18:51

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Sun, 16 Jul 2017, 18:51 Last Edit: Sun, 16 Jul 2017, 18:56 by Silver Nemesis
I went to see War for the Planet of the Apes this afternoon. As far as 2017's big budget blockbuster movies go, I'd say so far this is the one to beat.

I've yet to read the 1963 novel by Pierre Boulle, so I can't comment on that. But The Planet of the Apes film series has always used the intelligent ape scenario as a mirror for mankind's worst qualities, and this tradition continues in War for the Planet of the Apes. The movie tackles dark subject matter that includes concentration camps, slavery, eugenics, and race treachery. This is not a light-hearted romp. It's a heavy going experience that appeals to brain and heart alike. And for me at least, it hit both targets dead centre.

While earlier films portrayed Caesar as more of a military leader, War presents him as a simian Christ figure whose existence inspires his followers with hope. This is consistent with the 1968 film, where Caesar was revered as a religious icon by the apes of the future. The villain, played by Woody Harrelson, is a military despot in the tradition of Colonel Kurtz and Amon Göth. He's a repellently unsympathetic character whose forces are marked with alpha/omega symbolism redolent of the post-apocalyptic mutant cult in Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970). There are other connections to the earlier film series, but I won't list them all here. Spotting them is half the fun.

The film places far less emphasis on human characters than the two preceding entries in the trilogy. Instead the primates take centre stage, displaying qualities of compassion and mercy that are alien to their supposedly evolved adversaries. The previous movies had at least a few sympathetic humans to balance out the conflict, but War presents the viewer with only one in the form of a mute child. This begs the question of whether or not mankind actually deserves to survive, or are the apes more worthy of inheriting the Earth. If you've seen the 1968 film, then you know how the story's going to end. But after seeing War for the Planet of the Apes, you mightn't feel so bad about that ending.

Matt Reeves' direction is faultless. There's no shaky-cam or quick cuts. His approach emphasises clarity and precision, with slow camera movements that capture the action clearly and artistically. I only wish he'd directed Rise of the Planet of the Apes too (no disrespect to Rupert Wyatt). I also liked the soft, understated score by Michael Giacchino, which reminded me less of a typical blockbuster soundtrack and more of Michael Stearns' work on Baraka (1992). The motion capture technology is the most sophisticated ever. I'm vocal about my preference for practical creature effects over digital, but credit where credit's due – this is the first film I've seen where the CG character renderings were good enough not to be a distraction. Of course none of that would matter if the performances weren't equally good, but the actors portraying the apes strike the perfect balance between simian mannerisms and human emotion. Serkis in particular cannot be praised enough.

If I were to nitpick, I could point out a few minor issues. (SPOILERS) The apes' plan to escape from the concentration camp hinged on the improbable notion of there being only one guard on duty who could be easily lured into entering the cage. I wish the writers had come up with a better way for them to escape. Also Caesar's grenade triggering a chain reaction that destroys the entire base seemed a little convenient, as did the sudden avalanche that wipes out the human army. Though this latter occurrence fits in with the villain's speech about nature punishing humanity. One final nitpick would be the twist about the girl's name being Nova. This felt a little fan servicey, though I did like that they offered an explanation for why humans had lost the ability to speak in the 1968 film. (END SPOILERS) But these really are minor quibbles, and none of them spoiled my enjoyment of the film.

I'll need to watch the movie again when it comes out on DVD to see if it holds up to repeated viewing, but based on my initial reaction I'm inclined to rank this up there with the original film at the top of the series. To place this in context, here's how I'd rank the rest of the movies from worst to best.

9) Planet of the Apes (2001)

I remember seeing this on the big screen when it was first released and actually liking it. However I've caught it on TV a couple of times since and haven't enjoyed it nearly as much. It has a good score and impressive production values, but apart from that the whole affair rings a little hollow for my tastes. The fact it doesn't connect to the other films excludes it from the wider mythology, which is another reason I'm ranking it last. Admittedly I haven't seen it for a while, so it might be better than I remember.

8) Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)

This one expands on the apocalyptic nuclear themes hinted at in the original film and introduces a lot of half-baked concepts, none of which are very compelling. An inferior sequel that lacks the substance of the first movie. Still, it's watchable.

7) Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)

Battle for the Planet of the Apes eschews the social commentary of the earlier films in favour of a straightforward adventure plot. It continues the determinist themes of Conquest, this time subverting them so the post-apocalyptic world of the 1968 film is averted. While mostly unremarkable, it still makes for an entertaining conclusion to the original series

6) Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)

Like many genre films of the same era, Conquest strives to reflect the violence and civil unrest in American society during the sixties and early seventies. Beyond the obvious socio-political allegory, there's nothing particularly insightful here. But it does explore some intriguing ideas relating to predeterminism (Caesar creates the world from which his parents will one day travel back in time). A middling entry, but still a darkly entertaining film.

5) Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971)

I consider this the second best in the original series of movies. Escape takes a more comedic approach to the concept, inverting the premise so that intelligent apes are now the minoritized heroes in a predominantly human society; a clever role reversal of what we saw in the first film. Doubtless some modern viewers would take offence at the dated portrayal of 20th century gender roles, but I like this film a lot. It's funny and different.

4) Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

Rise starts the newer films off on the right foot with a film that emphasises character and plot over action. Some of the CG effects are underwhelming, and the final battle scene goes on a bit too long, but otherwise this is a solid film. The heroes are likeable, the villains are loathsome, and the plot has some emotional weight behind it. Many regard this movie as a hard reboot, but I like to think of it as taking place in the same universe as the older film series. So how do I reconcile this with Conquest of the Planet of the Apes? Well, I view the recent Apes films as the original sequence of events that created the world seen in the 1968 movie. When Cornelius and Zira travel back in time in Escape from the Planet of the Apes, they arrive approximately four decades before the events of Rise and create a new alternate timeline. That timeline concludes in Battle for the Planet of the Apes with the simians and humans coexisting peacefully with one another. This way it's possible to connect all the films (except the Burton remake) into a single continuity.

3) Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

If Rises surprised me with its quality, then Dawn took it to another level. Once again, action takes a backseat to character and plot. And when action does occur, it serves the storyline and feels necessary. I have very few criticisms of this film. It's one of my favourites in the series.

2) War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)

This is basically tied for the top spot.

1) Planet of the Apes (1968)

The original classic. It deals with timeless themes of class structure and racial prejudice, while at the same time telling an engaging adventure story filled with iconic imagery and one of the greatest plot twists in movie history. My only criticisms are minor quibbles relating to the pacing in the second act and the misanthropic overtones of Rod Serling's script (a problem I have with many of his Twilight Zone scripts too). But overall, it's one of the best sci-fi movies of the sixties.

So that's how I rank them. What about everyone else? Has anyone seen the latest movie yet? Do you view the recent films as a hard reboot, or a prequel trilogy connected to the earlier series? Has anyone read the novel that inspired this franchise? And what about the two Planet of the Apes TV shows? Are there any fans of those around here?

I'm bumping this thread because I've just finished reading Pierre Boulle's original 1963 novel La Planète des singes and I'd like to comment on it while it's still fresh in my mind. In particular, I'd like to look at how closely the novel is reflected in Franklin J. Schaffner's film adaptation. Spoilers ahead for both the book and the movie.

The novel is bookended with scenes of a couple discovering a message in a bottle as they're taking a leisure cruise through space. The couple read the rest of the story off the document as it has been chronicled by the main protagonist: a Frenchman named Ulysse Mérou, who is travelling to Betelgeuse with two companions. This framing device is omitted from the film.

One major difference between the book and the film is that in the original story the titular Planet of the Apes is not Earth. Instead it is a separate planet which Ulysse names Soror (Latin for sister). This is one area where Tim Burton's remake is closer to the source material than Schaffner's picture. Ulysse himself is the basis for the Taylor character in the 1968 film.

In the movie there are initially four astronauts, but one dies in hibernation. The other three then crash-land on what they believe to be an alien planet. In the novel there are only three human space travellers and they do not crash. Instead they intentionally descend to the planet's surface using a special landing craft while their ship remains safely in orbit.

In contrast to the post-apocalyptic world of the 1968 film, the Soror in the book resembles mid-twentieth century Earth, complete with cities, roads and traffic. There is no Forbidden Zone or desert wasteland in the book. The gorillas still hunt humans, and the chimps still perform disturbing surgical experiments on them, but otherwise the ape society in the novel is nowhere near as savage as the one depicted in the film.

In both versions of the story the three Earthmen soon find themselves at a pool beside a waterfall. There they disrobe and go for a swim. They spot a human footprint in the mud before encountering other people who display a primitive lack of cognitive development. In both stories the other humans steal the three Earthmen's clothes.

The first human the Earthmen meet in the book is Nova. She is the love interest of the main character in both the novel and the film. There is a sequence in the book where the indigenous humans destroy the landing vessel used by the Earthmen, and the three travellers then spend the night with the natives amid their primitive dwellings in the jungle.

The next day the humans are attacked by a gorilla hunting party. This scene is pretty similar in the film and the book, except in the novel the apes wear smart suits and use motor vehicles instead of horses. One of the Earthmen is killed in both stories, while the other two are captured along with Nova. In both stories this is where the main protagonist first realises that the apes are the dominant species on this world. Both stories depict the gorillas posing for photographs with the dead humans.

In the movie Taylor sustains a gunshot wound that prevents him from speaking. In the novel Ulysse receives no such wound and is capable of speech throughout the book. However the apes do not speak his language and consequently dismiss his utterances as a failed attempt to imitate their own speech. Ulysse learns the apes' language by listening to them talk and gradually becomes fluent in it. From that point on, the apes' dialogue is written in English (or French in the original version).

In both stories the protagonist meets a kindly female chimp scientist named Zira. In the movie Taylor convinces Zira of his intelligence using gestures and writing, while in the book he speaks to her using her own language, displays his knowledge of geometry and passes all of the cognitive tests to which he and the other humans are subjected. In the film the humans are treated very badly by their ape captors, but in the book they are treated comparatively well.

The ape society is stratified into three main groups in both the novel and the film: the gorillas, the orangutans and the chimps. In the movie the orangutans are keepers of a fundamentalist religious dogma, while in the novel it is more of an outdated scientific dogma. In both stories their aversion to scientific enlightenment prevents their society from advancing to its full potential, and this causes annoyance among the chimpanzees. The apes in the book are far more scientifically advanced than the ones in the film, and they have even developed aeroplanes and space satellites. By contrast, the apes in the film refuse to even believe that flight is possible. In the book the word 'monkey' is used as an innocuous synonym for ape, while in the film it is considered an offensive term.

In the novel Dr. Zaius is portrayed as an obtuse orangutan whose refusal to acknowledge advancements in science is derived from fear and genuine ignorance. By contrast, the Zaius in the film is a more intelligent and cunning character who secretly knows the truth about ape ascendency but is wilfully suppressing the information to protect his people. In both stories Zaius dislikes the human protagonist and attempts to prove that he is as stupid as the other humans.

In both stories the protagonist is introduced to Zira's fiancé, a chimp scientist named Cornelius. And in both stories Nova is placed inside the protagonist's cage for him to mate with.

The movie features a dramatic sequence where Taylor escapes from his cell and runs around Ape City. He discovers one of his fellow Earthmen has been stuffed and put on display in a museum. Taylor is then recaptured by the apes, whereupon he utters the famous line, "Take your stinking paws off me you damn dirty ape!" None of this happens in the book.

Instead Ulysse cooperates with the apes' cognitive tests and is presented before a simian congress. Zira and Cornelius plan to bypass Zaius' obstructionism by allowing Ulysse to directly address the assembly in front of the press and prove that he can speak and think. This plan succeeds, and from that point on Ulysse is afforded the same rights and courtesies as an ape. He is given specially tailored clothes, his own living quarters and all the comforts he might need. Ulysse proposes that the apes of Soror contact the humans of Earth and make friends with them, and the apes enthusiastically approve his suggestion. Ulysse himself is involved in the project along with Cornelius and Zira. Nothing like this happens in the movie, and instead Taylor's attempts to convince the ape council that he is sapient meet with failure.

In the film Taylor discovers that one of his fellow Earthmen has been lobotomised by Dr. Zaius. While some humans in the book are lobotomised during scientific experimentations, none of the Earthmen are subjected to this process. Instead Ulysse discovers one of his fellow Earthmen has been captured and is living in a cage with the primitive humans. For reasons that are never clearly explained, this particular Earthman has reverted to the animalistic level of the people of Soror and can no longer speak or think.

In the film's final act Zira and Cornelius help Taylor and Nova escape from Ape City and they all head into the Forbidden Zone where an archaeological dig has taken place. In the novel Cornelius invites Ulysse to see a similar archaeological dig he has performed at the ruins of an ancient city. He has Ulysse flown out there in a plane, and when the Earthman arrives Cornelius shows him a talking doll made in the likeness of a human. This supports Cornelius' theory that Soror was once ruled by intelligent humans before the apes took over. The movie features a similar scene towards the end.

The rest of the film's finale, including the shootout on the beach and the scene where Taylor and Nova ride off into the Forbidden Zone and discover the ruins of the Statue of Liberty, does not occur in the book.

In the novel there is a strange romantic tension between Ulysse and Zira. At one point they attempt to embrace, only for Zira to pull away saying, "Oh darling, it's impossible. It's a shame, but I can't, I can't. You really are too unattractive!" There's a similarly humours moment in the film where Zira consents to let Taylor kiss her, saying, "All right, but you're so damned ugly!"

There's an important scene in the book which isn't in the film where Cornelius and his colleagues succeed in performing brain surgery on a human that somehow triggers race memories that cause her to speak in the voices of her ancestors. She then delivers several monologues in the voices of various different people who each describe how their ape servants overthrew them. They also describe how human intellect atrophied at the same time simian intellect increased. These descriptions of the ape revolution would form the basis of the fourth movie, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972).

In the novel Zira reveals that Nova is pregnant with Ulysse's child. Nova gives birth and the baby displays signs of intelligence in common with his father. This, combined with their growing concern over Cornelius' theory regarding the humans that once ruled Soror, makes the apes anxious. Fearing Zaius and the other scientists might harm the baby, Zira and Cornelius help Ulysse, Nova and their son to sneak aboard a satellite that is being launched into orbit. Once in space, Ulysse is able to steer the vessel to rendezvous with the spaceship that he and his fellow Earthmen left circling Soror when they first arrived. The ship has been maintained during the interim by a team of robots. Ulysse, Nova and their son then use the ship to travel back to Earth.

In place of the movie's famous twist ending, the novel features a different twist where Ulysse, Nova and their son, Sirius, arrive back on Earth and land in France. Two military figures drive out to greet them in a jeep, but to Ulysse's horror he sees that the soldiers are apes. Due to relativity, he has arrived at a distant point in Earth's future where human society has collapsed and the apes have taken over, exactly as they did on Soror. This twist ending was used for Tim Burton's 2001 remake.

There is a further twist in the book where we learn that the couple who discovered Ulysse's message in a bottle at the beginning are also apes. I saw that one coming from a mile off.

So that's how the 1968 film compares with Boulle's novel. The third POTA movie, Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971), also adapts a surprising amount of material from the original book. There's a brief mention of this in the Behind the Planet of the Apes documentary, but I didn't realise just how much of the third film was indebted to Boulle's writing until I read it.

Escape from the Planet of the Apes takes place on 20th century Earth and inverts the scenario from the first film by having a trio of apes having to convince a society of humans of their intelligence. Many of the plot beats are taken directly from Boulle's book.

The premise of Escape from the Planet of the Apes sees the protagonists leaving the simian world and travelling to Earth using the ship that brought the Earthmen to the ape planet in the first place. As already mentioned, this is how Ulysse and his family return to Earth at the end of the novel.

The human characters of Dr. Stephanie Branton and Dr. Lewis Dixon play the same role in the film that Zira and Cornelius play in the novel, while Zira and Cornelius in the film experience much of what Ulysse goes through in the book. The villainous Dr. Otto Hasslein plays a similar role in the film as Dr. Zaius does in the novel.

Many sequences in Escape from the Planet of the Apes are clearly based on scenes from the book. These include the scenes of the apes being given cognitive tests by the humans, similar to those Ulysse is given by the apes in the novel. One test in particular is identical, where the subject has to pile blocks on top of one another to reach a banana that is hanging from the top of the cage.

The scene where Lewis and Stephanie present Zira and Cornelius before the commission is similar to the scene in the book where Zira and Cornelius present Ulysse before a congressional hearing. In both stories the subject of the presentation has to speak to prove that they possess intelligence and are not merely imitating the speech of their captors. This demonstration of intelligence is successful in both stories.

The scenes of Zira and Cornelius being shown around the city recall the scenes of Zira taking Ulysse on a similar tour in the book. Cornelius is horrified by the savagery of a boxing match he witnesses in the movie, just as Ulysse is horrified by an ape boxing match he sees in the novel.

The storyline about Zira's pregnancy in the movie appears to have been inspired by Nova's pregnancy in the book. Hasslein fears the future ascendency of the apes in the film, much like Zaius fears mankind's past dominance of the apes in the novel. Both scientists also fear the baby's potential to spawn a race of evolved beings that will lead to the overthrow of their own species.

Nova and Zira both give birth to a son that displays the evolved characteristics of his parents. Zaius/Hasslein seeks to eliminate the child, so the two friendly scientists (Zira and Cornelius in the novel, Stephanie and Lewis in the film) help the visitors to escape with their infant. They also switch the real child with a primitive baby in the hopes the villain will not notice the difference.

The book ends with the fugitive family escaping, while the film presents a darker conclusion where Hasslein kills Zira, Cornelius and the primitive ape baby they switched for their own. Despite this, I was surprised by just how many important plot elements from Escape from the Planet of the Apes originated in the 1963 book. It's almost as much of an adaptation of Boulle's novel as the first film is, which might explain why it's also one of the strongest entries in the series.

As for Cornelius and Zira's baby, he was raised by Ricardo Montalban and ended over instigating the overthrow of humanity. Khan would be proud.

Here's the trailer for Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes (2024), which will be the tenth theatrically-released film in the POTA franchise.

Between this and Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, 2024 is shaping up to be a big year for simian sci-fi movies. It's a shame Nintendo couldn't have released a Donkey Kong film in the same year.

We live in strange times. I'm old enough to remember when the Planet Of The Apes franchise was niche of niche. Only true sci-fi fans knew about, were familiar with and loved the franchise.

But in today's world, modern POTA is more critically acclaimed (and, by some metrics, also more profitable) than modern Star Wars.

I've seen Rise but that's it. So, at some point, I should probably give the other films in the series a day in court.

What exactly is modern POTA's canon? The original Heston film seems to be a factor in it. But do the other POTA films fit into the canon as well?

Fri, 3 Nov 2023, 14:49 #4 Last Edit: Mon, 18 Dec 2023, 12:42 by Silver Nemesis
Quote from: thecolorsblend on Fri,  3 Nov  2023, 01:57But in today's world, modern POTA is more critically acclaimed (and, by some metrics, also more profitable) than modern Star Wars.

True. POTA is one of the few franchises that improved its batting average in recent years. One important factor is that they take their time with these movies. They're not rushing them out like Disney did with Star Wars and Marvel. There was a three year gap between each entry in the Caesar trilogy, and by time Kingdom comes out it will have been almost seven years since War for the Planet of the Apes. It's a textbook case of quality over quantity and other studios could learn from it.

A part me wishes they'd quit while they're ahead and not push their luck by making more. But I'm cautiously optimistic about Kingdom. I've enjoyed all the other recent POTA movies, and I'm willing to give this one a chance. As a franchise, POTA is certainly in a much healthier condition right now than Star Wars, Doctor Who, Star Trek, The Terminator or Alien are.

Quote from: thecolorsblend on Fri,  3 Nov  2023, 01:57What exactly is modern POTA's canon? The original Heston film seems to be a factor in it. But do the other POTA films fit into the canon as well?

Good question. I saw a lot of discussion about this back in 2011, and the consensus, fuelled by comments from the filmmakers, seemed to point towards the new movies being a hard reboot that takes place in a separate universe from the old films. However, the movies themselves don't make that clear, and there is evidence to suggest that all the POTA films are connected (except for Burton's 2001 movie).

Some say the new films are a reinterpretation of Pierre Boulle's 1963 novel and have nothing to do with the earlier movies. This is patently untrue, since in Boulle's novel the titular Planet of the Apes is not Earth but a separate planet named Soror. The twist about the ape world being Earth originated in the 1968 movie. The new films reference other things from the old movies that weren't in Boulle's novel, such as the spaceship Icarus getting namedropped in Rise of the Planet of the Apes...

...and the Alpha-Omega military faction in War of the Planet of the Apes foreshadowing the mutant cult in Beneath the Planet of the Apes.

The dates given for the Icarus mission in Rise do not match those from the 1968 movie, but I just chalk that up to the films being made so far apart. Continuity issues such as this arise in every long-running franchise, and I don't see such minor disparities as proof the old and new movies can't be connected. It's possible that future POTA movies might present concrete evidence to separate them. For example, if they end up remaking the 1968 movie, which some fans believe they're building up to. Until that happens, I regard the recent movies as prequels to the earlier series.

But what about the contradictions between Rise and Conquest of the Planet of the Apes? Don't they depict different versions of the same events? Yes, but Conquest takes place in an alternate timeline created after Cornelius and Zira went back in time in Escape from the Planet of the Apes. Cornelius and Zira knew of Caesar, the ape who led the simian uprising, from their history books. Their own son Milo later adopts the name Caesar and leads the uprising himself. Cornelius and Zira travel back in time from the future Planet of the Apes and initiate a sequence of events that leads to the creation of the Planet of the Apes.

This causal loop illustrates the bootstrap paradox. I once read an interview with James Cameron in which he addressed this problem with regards to the parentage of John Connor in The Terminator movies. He said that logically John's father could not have originally been Kyle Reese. In order for Kyle to travel back in time and meet Sarah, it was necessary for John to already exist, since it was John who sent Kyle back in time in the first place. If John hadn't been born, Kyle wouldn't have gone back in time and met Sarah, but if Kyle hadn't gone back in time and met Sarah then John wouldn't have been born. Unless John's father was originally someone other than Kyle. When Kyle went back in time, he changed history and created the causal loop.

The same logic applies to the POTA timeline. Events had to have happened differently the first time. My theory is that the current series of films, beginning with Rise, depicts the original sequence of events that leads to the 1968 movie and its sequel, Beneath the Planet of the Apes. Originally the ape uprising occurred in the early 21st century and was triggered by the Simian Flu pandemic. This set in motion a sequence of events culminating in the destruction of Earth by the Alpha-Omega bomb in Beneath the Planet of the Apes.

Cornelius and Zira escape by travelling back in time and arriving on Earth almost half a century before the original ape rebellion occurred, thereby setting in motion a new chain of events. If Escape takes place in the 1970s, then Conquest must take place in the 1980s or 1990s, since Milo has grown to adulthood in the interim. The fear and paranoia inadvertently stoked by Cornelius and Zira when they disclosed the truth about humanity's future subjugation accelerates events and causes the ape rebellion to happen roughly two decades earlier than it was originally meant to. Milo adopts the guise of Caesar, but he is not the original Caesar. The timeline featuring the original Caesar is now averted, and instead of Earth being destroyed we see a more peaceful future where apes and humans coexist harmoniously, as depicted at the end of Battle for the Planet of the Apes.

At least that's my theory. But I could be wrong. The new films might be a hard reboot, and perhaps they're building up to a full on remake of the '68 movie. Some locations in the trailer for Kingdom certainly evoke the Forbidden Zone beach from the Heston film.

To be honest, POTA has never been one of my favourite franchises. It never resonated with me on the personal level that Doctor Who, Star Wars or Star Trek did. But I still like the POTA films and I'm glad to see the series succeeding where so many other franchises are failing.

I remember renting the POTA movies on VHS, somewhere in the mid-late '90's, in order to get acquainted with them, before the then-upcoming reboot that was being reported upon in Cinescape Magazine, ect that was to star Arnold Schwarzenegger!  ;D

Yeah, I also view Rise/Dawn/War as prequels to the original POTA films, even if it's not 100% clean, but I do agree that it looks like "Kingdom" could very well be steering it into a full on reboot given the clear Forbidden Zone callbacks, and humans now having fallen into a feral state. As such was the case in the original film with Heston.

Personally, I like the trailer. I'm in.

"Imagination is a quality given a man to compensate him for what he is not, and a sense of humour was provided to console him for what he is."

Mon, 6 Nov 2023, 20:29 #6 Last Edit: Mon, 6 Nov 2023, 20:31 by Silver Nemesis
The trailer is promising. If they are working towards a remake of the 1968 film, I hope the apes will eventually start to resemble the classic versions.

The motion-capture apes in the recent films look more like real apes, but there's something iconic about how they looked in the original five movies. Admittedly they could look unintentionally funny at times, which is partly why the old POTA movies lend themselves so well to spoofing.

But they're still iconic. One thing Burton's POTA movie absolutely nailed was the costume and makeup design. Burton's team took the basic look of the apes from the classic movies and updated and perfected them.

I'd like the apes in the new movies to evolve from the mo-cap versions into something like this.

Some new details have been revealed about Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes. Apparently it's the first in a new trilogy set 300 years after the events of the Caesar trilogy that concluded with War of the Planet of the Apes. So we're moving away from that prequel era and into a new time period that's closer to the setting of the 1968 POTA and Beneath the Planet of the Apes. The villain of the film is called Proximus Caesar.

It sounds like he's going to exploit the legacy of the original Caesar to claim some kind of sovereignty over the other apes. He and his followers are trying to salvage human technology, which suggests their culture has yet to reach the technophobic stage seen in the 1968 movie. It'll be interesting to observe how similar the Proximus Caesar storyline will be to the Skar King plot of Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire. I expect KOTPOTA will be the better movie, but GXK comes out one month earlier and might steal its thunder as far as the whole ape vs. ape thing goes.

Director Wes Ball has said KOTPOTA is going to be a sci-fi adventure in the tradition of Star Wars. Hopefully he's referring to classic Lucas-era Star Wars and not the Disney-era stuff. Ball is also in line to direct Nintendo's Legend of Zelda movie. LOZ is my favourite gaming franchise, so I'm a little apprehensive about the film. But I'll save that discussion for a separate Zelda thread.

Right now, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes has me intrigued. I'm looking forward to it.

I just got back from seeing Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes.

It's not bad, but I'd say it's a step down from the Caesar trilogy. In place of the portentous tone of Reeves' films, Kingdom offers a more straightforward sci-fi adventure movie. That could be a plus or a negative, depending on how much you liked the Caesar trilogy. The acting, special effects and production values are all good. I liked the reclaimed Earth aesthetic, with vegetation growing over all the old structures. I prefer that to the typical wasteland imagery prevalent in most post-apocalyptic movies.

But the storyline didn't grip me. I just never felt terribly absorbed by it, and at times I found my mind wandering as I was distracted by the visuals. Noa's a likeable protagonist and I cared about him and his family, yet never felt quite as emotionally engaged as I did with Caesar's storyline in the previous three films. I think the biggest problem with Kingdom is its failure to break new ground. If you've seen all the other Planet of the Apes films, then there's nothing new here to surprise you. It's composed entirely of familiar elements.

For what it is, it's good. But it evokes a somewhat wearisome sense of déjà vu. It'll probably appeal most to younger fans who've never seen any of the older POTA movies. For people like that, Kingdom's a good introduction to the franchise. But for those of us who've seen the previous nine POTA films, there's a disappointing lack of fresh ideas. I wished they'd brought in the mutants from the older movies, or some of the other weird creatures that appeared in the comics and 1970s cartoon show. Anything that would've expanded the mythology a bit. I also noticed strong plot similarities with Mel Gibson's Apocalypto (2006), particularly in the first half of the film, and that further added to my sense of having seen it all before.

John Paesano's score sounds like it was influenced by the works of Danny Elfman. In one or two places I could hear echoes of Edward Scissorhands (1990), and the music that plays during the hunt sequence is strikingly similar to Elfman's theme from Tim Burton's 2001 POTA movie. I wouldn't be surprised if they'd used Elfman's score as a temp track. This is another example of how Kingdom frequently evokes the earlier POTA films without leaving a distinctive stamp of its own on the series.

To sum up, KOTPOTA is a decent solid mid-tier entry in the franchise. If you hate POTA, Kingdom won't convert you. If you're a long-time fan, you might find it a little too derivative of the earlier films. If you're a newcomer who's curious about the Apes saga, then this is a good entry point. As far as where I'd rank it among other recent sci-fi films, it's definitely nowhere near as good as Godzilla Minus One or Dune: Part Two. But it's a well-made workmanlike sci-fi adventure that'll keep you entertained for a couple of hours. I'd give it 6 out of 10.