Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Planet of the Apes (1968)

I watched Planet of the Apes (1968) last night. It was either the first time ever I've seen the film all the way through or the first time in decades. I have sepid-toned memories of me being a kid when those movies (1968, 1970-73) were being released. Truth be told, it's probably the TV series I remember.

With all the hoopla surrounding the 40th Anniversary of Star Wars, one podcast I listened to quoted a review from 1977's Time magazine which said that Star Wars was, paraphrasing here, a fun movie made like they used to make. Sitting in 2017, there are plenty of movies like that--SF ones, too; I'm looking at you Guardians of the Galaxy--but I wondered why the reviewer summed up Star Wars in that fashion.

In re-watching POTA, I think I realized it. As I am wont to do nowadays, I pull up Wikepedia and learn about said movie along the way. My wife commented how good a movie she thought POTA was in addition to star Charleton Heston's role in OMEGA MAN. The third of this little trilogy of SF films with Heston was Soylent Green. I've seen bits of SG and none of OM. But there's a definite pessimism in POTA. Understandable, considering the subject matter. I can see how Star Wars was such a breath of fresh air forty years ago this summer.

The prosthetic make-up in POTA holds up very well. Only a few times was the camera directly in line with the actor who was speaking, enabling the viewer to catch glimpses of the human actor's mouth. But, really, who cares?

I loved the set of the ape village. Seems to me there was a Mego playset. I had one of the Mego POTA dolls--the one in purple--to go along with my Mego super-hero dolls.

Image result for planet of the apes mego

The movie is quite talky, with part of middle taken up with a court case. I appreciate that now. Perhaps there can be more of that in modern SF movies. I'm all for the action summer blockbuster movie, but it would be nice to sprinkle in some low-key SF every now and then.

Were all space movies of the late 60s and into the mid 70s set on desert planets? Seeing the three astronauts traipse around the American southwest made it look like western.

The scene where we first see the apes on horseback chasing the humans is a great scene. Viewers know going in there are apes, but the reveal is still powerful. And the music is really well done.

And that last shot. It is still very powerful and iconic. I know that the third film of the prequel POTA trilogy is coming out this summer. It simply has to end with the destruction of the Statue of Liberty, right?

At Houston's Comicpalooza a few weeks back, I purchased a VHS set of all 5 original POTA films for a grand total of $2.00. My intention is to watch all 5 this summer. One down; four to go.

What did y'all think of Planet of the Apes?

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