Planet of the Apes: 1968 - 2001
posted by Paul and B on 7/30/01
"Get your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!" -
Courtney Cox's first words to David Arquette.
Released in 1968, "Planet Of The Apes" was the science fiction precursor to movies like "Star Wars" - showing how a movie could be marketed but also how a subtle message could be delivered to the often oblivious masses. It was grand in scope, epic in design and featured an allegorical message about humanity. Just as Orwell had done with "Animal Farm", a bunch of animals (this time men in monkey suits) were used to present a commentary about the state of the world. At the time of release, America was ripe with conflict. The Vietnam War was destroying national moral, while in domestic affairs, civil rights were a contentious.
"Apes" developed a huge fanbase, because quite frankly, no-one had ever seen anything like it. There had been science fiction movies before it, sure, but few resonated with the power of this and fewer could be enjoyed on so many levels. This was just before Kubrick's 2001, an intellectual and visual delight, which was strongly lacking in entertainment sizzle. "Apes" was essentially an adventure story about an astronaut landing on a strange planet and adapting to his new surroundings - kind of like "E.T" in reverse. The towering Charlton Heston starred as Taylor, and although he was a big name at the time, this wasn't a big-name movie. In fact, it sounds quite hokey plot-wise, and if you judge it on aesthetics alone, you'll see nothing more than a glorified B Movie.
But this was 1968, and the special effects had a purpose and were groundbreaking for the time. James Cameron can waste over $100 trying to re-create a big boat sinking. It looked impressive, and "Titanic" sailed away with record box office, but Cameron forgot to put any money into his embarrassingly lame script. So it was a huge relief that he had to drop out of the "Apes" remake. The Special Effects here aren't the story. They're merely accessory, with meaningful characters and solid scripting being prided more.
I like the message and questions the movie raises. Interesting that the humans are the subservient beings on this planet, and are treated as inferior by the apes. Who's to say we're not inferior? As humans, we tend to have a certain arrogance about our standings in the Universe. God, so they say, created everything. Why, then, do we see animals as inferior to us? I think many animals are superior to us, and are possibly more emotionally and mentally evolved. You don't see animals kill over such trivial things as money - they don't have the capacity. They have a simplicity we look down upon, but does that make them any less valid? If you've ever had a dog or a cat, you know they generally love you unconditionally. Never looking for money or power. How many humans do you know who can love unconditionally? And, if ever an animal is psychologically damaged, it's usually a result of its mistreatment by humans.
And if ever a human is psychologically damaged, it's usually a result of his/her interactions with humans
(on the internet).
On the Apes' planet, they favor stringent discipline and put little stock in science. Science is replaced by superstition, a concept we humans look down upon. Well, wouldn't the world be a better place if there was more discipline in place? How many people are allowed to offend repeatedly? Look at Robert Downey Junior. Hands up who thinks this joker deserves a good spanking by a venomous ape. Yes, he'd probably enjoy it, but it's still worth a try. Seriously, though, the discipline in the Western world is very slack, and crime is treated more as a commodity than a violation. In a perverse way, criminals are glorified and this creates the ideology that crime is a viable alternative. Especially when it's a surefire way to fifteen minutes of fame.
That brings us to science. This is where human hubris prevails. Science has opened in new doors in our evolution, but it's also somewhat flawed. We still haven't found a cure for Cancer or AIDS, yet doctors scoff at the suggestion that spirituality is an effective defense. The problem with superstition is that it cannot be quantified and depends wholly on faith; the problem with science is that it can be botched by human error.
An open mind and a mixture of both concepts is probably the best approach..
However, on the apes' planet, free thinking is generally discouraged. It's a very rigid environment, in stark contrast to the democratic America to which Taylor was accustomed. Humans are mistreated and not regarded as anything more than slaves. An obvious throwback to the travesty of slavery, this suggests that all societies are based on hierarchies, but that this isn't a good approach - and could lead to a state of anarchy. Taylor, being a particularly clever human, realizes that this society is based on a creaky infrastructure. He decides not to live with this establishment and, with the help of two apes, flees.
Getting helped by two apes is the metaphorical equivalent of Martin Luther King getting aided by two white men. And, considering this was the 1960s, that might not have been a bad idea. Certainly, race relations were appalling at the time and some racial synthesis may have helped the situation - a situation which has sadly never been properly resolved.
It's interesting that Taylor only makes an impact on the apes whenever he speaks. It's as if to suggest that we as humans are too quick to judge people, and that's certainly true of the apes here, believing humans to be intellectually inept. How many people do you see on the street and form judgments based on their attire? If you're anything like me, the answer is "many". But, then again, it's wrong to judge others on such superficial criteria. Are the apes smarter just because they're apes? Not at all. The sharpest contrast here is with minority groups: these silly, unfounded stereotypes that African Americans are more prone to crime than Caucasians; or that all Arabs are greed-filled and corrupt. This movie shows the self-fulfilling prophecy societies perpetuate. Treat someone as inferior for long enough and chances are that, after a while, he'll start to act it. Tell a child it's worthless, and it'll grow up with that chip on its shoulder.
What if white people had been slaves? What is slavery hadn't happened? What if the so-called minority groupings were truly in the ascendancy?
Fascinating, too, that there is a class system within the apes. The chimpanzees are on the lower rung, being thinkers and scientific (and therefore more closely related to humans); the political roles are occupied by the orangutans; and gorillas are warriors. It's similar to how we classify our society - with little equality or proper qualification. And the end scene is especially pertinent, showing how our primitive tendencies will eventually spell the end for us. As Taylor escapes from the foreign planet, and finds the origins of Earth's destruction, the reality hits him: humans ruined Earth with their own jealousy, failure to cohabit and the burgeoning hatred. It's a prediction of the apocalypse, the Statue of Liberty burned to the ground, and man's failure to live in harmony the culprit.
The scene, while powerful, is over-the-top, but it's truer than you think. "Fight Club" showed us how consumerism is destroying us, but this predicts that we are destroying ourselves. That seems to be a better point. After all, all the problems in the world are man-made (natural disasters aside). This could be an avocation of Marxism. The Apes live contented and when no-one questions the establishment, everything is harmonious. Perhaps this suggests that we question our situations too much, and uprisings create are more problematic than Problem-Solving. It's a point I agree with to some extent; you can't turn on the news these days without hearing someone bitch about one thing or another. I think that major grievances should be aired, but considering we have more luxuries than our ancestors, we're a little too privileged to bitch.
The negative "isms" aside, that is.
Should we seek societal improvement and possibly create unrest? Or should we be satisfied that, over all, things aren't so bad?
Like all good movies, "Apes" raises these questions, and leaves us to ponder. That's why movies of its type still resonate today. So few movies have a shelf-life, and the best ones have something more to offer than hype and spectacle. I maintain that "Titanic" and "Shakespeare In Love" will never be remembered as classics; they're genre films with huge promotional pushes and palatable stories. Movies that can be analyzed, like "Magnolia" and "Happiness", are going to define our generation. And "Apes" will live on, because even with all our technological advances and unfounded boasts, our society isn't really in a better place than it was over thirty years ago.
We're still fighting, complaining and discriminating.
That is, when all is said and done, the true tragedy.
There isn't a more promising thing in life than the promise of a movie about angry monkeys. The last time my world was graced with an angry movie monkey was 1992's Monkey Trouble, and it changed my life forever. The whole time I was thinking, "OMG is she gonna get her monkey back???/?" and "ROFL that monkey is really funny LOOK he's wearing a hat." Sure, it's nice to see a talent like Peter Jackson make a movie like Heavenly Creatures, a touching film about the minds of two girls, their love for fantasy and life, and how it comes crashing down under the oppressive hands of reality...but did it have a monkey in it? No. And who cares if he's directing the "Lord of the Rings" movies, unless they replace the homo wizards with monkeys in funny hats I'm gonna use my eight bucks to rent "Going Bananas" a bunch of times.
This summer I've already sat through Eddie Murphy as a computer generated talking donkey, Ben Affleck as a fighter pilot with computer generated emotions, and David Duchovny in a movie about computer generated aliens who flush his computer generated career down a computer generated toilet. About halfway through Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes I thanked the big Monkey Kong in the sky that make-up artists are still in business, and prospering. Just look at Michael Clarke Duncan's make-up! They took...no, wait...I grew up in Danville Virginia where it's okay to drag people behind your truck if you've got the proper permit and even *I'm* not gonna make THAT joke. Make it yourself.
And before we proceed, here are other deleted jokes that I will NOT be making, either because they are too easy to make or because I would want to kick my own ass for being lame enough to make them:
- COME ON COME ON FEEL IT FEEL IT
- Any mention of "Marky Mark and the Monkey Bunch."
- It looks like somebody punched Estella Warren in the mouth. Have you seen this chick's upper lip? If you get tired in the middle of sex with her you can climb up and take a nap on it.
- "I haven't seen this many crappy Gorillaz since the last time I watched MTV2."
- I expected Charlton Heston to pull off his ape makeup and start shooting everyone.
- Any sentence with the word "spanking" in it.
Yes, I realize that monkey is a euphemism for "penis," but it was not so funny that every time someone in the film says the word "monkey" I burst into laughter. I cannot say the same for the Lynchburg crowd, but this article is about the movie and not about the bunch of savages I live with.
So anyway, I had a SPANKING good time watching "Planet of the Apes." It goes without saying that I went into the film with many reservations. I mean, c'mon, what SHOULD I expect from a remake of a movie where Charlton Heston battles super animals BUT a psychological thriller, almost Shakespearean in it's complexity. Not to mention the history of the film's director, Tim Burton. Burton is genuinely one of the most creative directors of our time, a fact backed up by the millions of people who still hold Edward Scissorhands and The Nightmare Before Christmas as the last two books of the Bible. Most of them have X-Men T-shirts on as well, but nobody's perfect. Especially Burton:The More Recent Crimes of Tim Burton
Turning Batman into a Cold-blooded Killer - Joel Schumacher gave the Caped Crusader a pair of hard rubber nipples and homosexual subtext with every other male in the last two Batman films. He also gave him a "Bat-MasterCard." But one thing he didn't do (at least I think, I was blinded by neon) was turn Batman into a killer. The whole point of Batman's crime fighting is to prevent the loss of human life. At the end of the first film, Bats blatantly allows the Joker to fall to his death. Batman Returns has an even WORSE scene, where basically shoves a grenade into a clown's chest and sends him hurdling off the sidewalk to his doom. Not to mention setting people on fire with the Batmobile. Thank God Burton's not in charge of the Spider-man movie, he woulda had Spidey make Robbie Robertson bite the curb so he could crush his fucking skull.
With great power comes great responsibility, cracka-ass cracka!
Killing Capser Van Starshiptrooper - Is there a better actor on this Earth than Mr. Casper Van Starshiptrooper? I felt saddened and betrayed when the Headless Horseman filleted him. And I cried when he got killed by the big bugs in Starship Troopers and they had to make him rip off Star Wars repeatedly. Why couldn't Tim Burton have replaced Donnie Wahlberg's more naked brother with Casper in the role of "the human?" It's the role he was born to play, baby! Besides, then he could've done that radical "YOU APES WANNA LIVE FOREVERRRRRR" line again.
Oops, there goes my haircut!
Casting Natalie Portman, Christina Ricci, and Estella Warren in His Films But Not Introducing Them to Me - This crime kinda speaks for itself. What nerve Tim Burton has!
But, Pee-wee's Big Adventure forgives all those crimes, and will forgive all future crimes. So I went into the film with my computer hooked up, ready to savagely rape the creative visions of Burton and make his family want to throw stones at him! I'm such a great writer I can do that! Did you read that Starship Troopers joke up there? Phht! Things I Liked About Planet of the Apes -
Before we let you leave, your commander must cross that field, present himself before this army, put his head between his legs, and kiss his own arse. MONKEY ARSE! Ho ho, I am sassy little brother!
Estella Warren - The characters in the movie are all two dimensional, barely uttering two words before shooting or punching something. That's cool, though, it's a movie about an army of angry monkey people, so again, I wasn't expecting Citizen Kong. But, at the risk of doing a list within a list in this article, Estella Warren's performance, and, more importantly, her Slip-n-Slide inducing sexuality, stole the show for me:
1) There are two kinds of girls I find attractive in showbusiness: Really off-kilter obscure girls and hot blondes. I like really off-kilter obscure girls because my ideas of beauty have been warped by the media - the idea of a woman so unsure of herself that she must augment her body and face just to please oppressive horn dog men disgusts me. Why do I like hot blondes? Because I'm a human being.
Warren combines the best attributes of a hot blonde (being a hot blonde model with a killer body) with the best attributes of being obscure (wacky lips, being Canadian). Plus, in interviews she takes that "if everybody thought I was ugly I'd still be interesting" stance (warning signs include speaking fast and using big words...ah-dur...). Plus, she's got a penchant for getting naked more often than not. Plus, I like that! I think I just plussed on myself. And my keyboard! Booya!
2) She kinda looks like somebody who would come from Hyrule, from the Legend of Zelda video games. All you gotta do is slap some pointy ears on her and she's every Nintendo-fanboys fantasy. Not to mention mine. I'd like to hit her with my "hook shot," oh yeah. Let her take a peek at my "bomb sack." Give her my Ocarina of Wang. You get the idea.
3) In the movie they keep her lines to a minimum, possibly because the character development rivaled that of the Ghostbusters cartoon with the big monkey in it. This doesn't keep her from having all sorts of adorable little mannerisms though. For instance, whenever anything remotely emotional comes up, she stands there with her eyes wide open, staring like she just wandered into the street and is about to be plowed through by Freddie Prinze and his drunk teenage friends. Then she turns and sprints away! It's awesome, she's always running away.
Not to mention the best moment in the whole movie - As the humans and the Marla Singer ape are escaping ape captivity (which I'll get into more later), Estella's going through a big emotional loss...so, she attempts, for the first and only time in the whole motion picture, to show an emotional release. She turns and starts to bitch out Marla Ape, but right when she starts Carter goes "WHEEEEEOOOOOOO" in this high pitched monkey voice. This makes Warren's eyes cross and she does this awesome Pokémon prat fall. It's like something out of my perfect movie.
4) No matter what happens, whether running through a jungle or being smacked in the face by the big ape from the "Green Mile," her hair and make-up is always perfect. Makes you wonder where she finds time to get her hair highlighted so well on this planet of apes. Do ya think they have gay names like "THE MANE EVENT" and "CUT LOOSE" for planet of the apes beauty parlors? I bet they have names like "FUR ALL SEASONS." And while we're making shitty jokes, do they call the mechanics "Grease Monkeys?" Do they get drunk in "Monkey Bars?"
I should've listened to Charles Dickens. Never trust a girl named Estella.
Wait a minute, scratch that. Fuck Charles Dickens. Right in his dead wordy ass.
(sigh) Moving on...
Underwater Zombie Monkeys - The special effects really are impressive in POTA (Spanish for "Hey Hey we're the"), but some serious opportunities were missed. When Mark E. Wahlberg crashes his Deathstar escape pod in a POND OF THE APES, he loses his connection to the high technology of the PLANET WITH APES ON IT BUT NOT "OF" THE APES PERSAY. Later, when trying to recover said technology, Mark and Estella do some diving to recover it. And what do they find???///
UNDERWATER ZOMBIE MONKEYS!
Actually they don't, they just find dead monkeys floating around down there, cementing the idea that apes can't swim. I marked out at the promise of underwater zombie monkeys, but when they didn't stagger around trying to eat brains I returned to my normal, non-erect state. Shut up! I was erect for Estella Warren (she was a synchronized swimmer in Canada, y'know), not for the underwater zombie monkeys! At least...not anymore. :(
It's Raining Monkeys - Just like many of his peers, Tim Burton has developed certain trademarks that can be located within all of his films. Any good director has a signature style - like Luc Besson's wacky angles and slow pacing shots, John Woo's slow-motion gun fights, and Joel Schumacher's constant cock and ass shots. One of Burton's big things is to make something "rain." In Pee-wee's Big Adventure you've got falling rose petals, Edward Scissorhands features a pre-worthless Winona Ryder dancing in falling ice shavings, Sleepy Hollow features a witchy Lisa Marie dancing around in a swirling flower storm. What does this planet with some apes feature?
Falling monkeys, of course.
Marky Mark (he hates to be called that) destroys this MONKEY BUNCH with an explosion from his downed spaceship. There's a really cool special effect shot of a bunch of monkey carcasses flying up into the air going "OOK OOK OOK." It's similar to what would've happened if Paul Thomas Anderson had been put in charge of Planet of the Apes, only Wahlberg would've sat around masturbating the whole time and Tim Roth would've hopped around calling everybody "fucking cocksucker fuck fuckers."
Lisa Marie Ape - I don't really know how Tim Burton maintains a chick like this, but as long as he does I'm glad she's in all of his movies. I know it's not really necessary, but in the spirit of goodwill to our readers I'll just put another AAAAAAAAAAAAAH CELEBRITY MISSING THEIR PANTIES gallery up:
Things I Disliked About Planet of the Apes -
Leo, Human of the Apes - At the risk of making more "Marky Mark" jokes, his time spent with the MONKEY BUNCH is so one-note that even the boys in 311 might be able to play it without fucking it up and turning it into some mongrel trash-rap thing. Wahlberg mails in a performance that required nothing more than a postage stamp in the first place, all the while keeping the exact same look on his face (furrowed brow, with both eyebrows darting up like he just heard "Good Vibrations" on the radio again). Not to mention his signature "I've just been hit in the nuts" serious voice. Unfortunately he finds monkeys that talk VERY serious, so all the charm evident in "Boogie Nights" is lost in the bad dialogue and so-witty-I-want-to-stab-myself one-liners. At least he didn't say "can't we all just get along."
Monkey jumping - I guess Burton and his group of stop-motion cronies felt that the best way to convey "monkey" is to have them jump around like goofy circus creatures. The apes on this "Planet of" are ALWAYS jumping, no matter what the cause. It's not really "jumping" though, it's more like the standard "Crouching Chimp Hidden Howler" style, which features them slowly raising into the air and then slowly lowering back down. I think the monkey stereotype could've been achieved with less fake Batman and Robin looking jumping. All they need is some strategically placed banana innuendo and possibly a shot of one of their giant purple asses.
You know, I fell asleep this afternoon and had me a dream. I dreamed about Del's mouse. I ate it.
Orangutan Sex Party - You'll know the scene when you see it. The crowd was laughing the entire time, but I was sitting there trying to keep from bashing my head into the seat in front of me. Speaking of which...
The Crowd - Planet of the Apes is NOT a movie that should've been released as a summer Blockbuster. Sure, it's a crowd pleaser, but in all the most disturbing ways. Whenever an ape would pop onto the screen, the overexcited ghetto kids to my right would provide commentary like "AWWWWWW SHIT DOOOOG" or "this movie MESS UP YA HUR ME!!!" Whenever one of the characters would mention evolution, even indirectly, the tight-shorted Christian alliance to my left would begin murmuring to themselves. I'm sure most of you who've already seen the film didn't have this problem, because you don't live in Virginia. This was the same crowd that left American Beauty going, "that was retarded, I've never seen so much retarded retarded...my god it was retarded. So retarded. OMG Cruel Intentions!!!!111"
Although...I guess that's EVERY crowd, in a way.
Spread your Wings and Fly, Butterfly - Estella Warren's costume in the movie is basically just some Tarzan looking underwear, so whenever she's riding a horse it looks like that creepy "Butterfly" video Mariah Carey did. Y'ever seen that video? She sits there sexually stroking a horse for four minutes. It's really, really creepy. But not more so than MOST of her videos.
A Complete Lack of Dr. Zaius - So tell me exactly HOW I'm supposed to make all those Simpsons references without Dr. Zaius being around? The Boba Fett of the original film, Zaius is the one character that most people can still name, thanks to constant pop culture resurgence and a generation of kids with nothing better to do than resurge themselves all over pop culture. I was driving back to Virginia a couple of weeks ago, and as soon as "Rock Me Amadeus" started playing on the radio, like fucking CLOCKWORK the words "Oooh...help me Dr. Zaius!" came tumbling out.
Oh my God...I was wrong! It was Earth...all-a-loooong.
I know Tim Burton supposedly "reimagined" the film, but c'mon, why take away the references for us? How are we supposed to sit around with our fat, girlfriendless friends playing Mario Party all day, snickering and quoting that "Can I play the piano any-more?" line? All we're left with now is Marky Mark underwear references and those obvious jokes about Charlton Heston shooting people that only Penny Marshall and Rosie O'Donnell think are funny. And how long until the satisfaction of making THEM laugh wears off, eh? Once Rosie laughs hard enough and that cholesterol thickened acid she calls blood starts vomiting outta her nose, it's sayonara for us all. That's when she swells up and devours Tokyo.
So now I'm out of references and Tokyo's been destroyed. Thanks a lot, Tim Burton.
Human Strategy - If nothing else, Planet of the Apes makes humans look like the big doofuses they are. Keeping this generally spoiler free, every time the humans are trying to escape ape captivity/getting barrels thrown at them, they do it by running directly into whatever apes are standing around. Seriously, in their first "escape" they manage to run through EVERY major ape character's bedroom, scaring them and making them do an unrealistic jumping thing. Also, they go "OOK OOK" because they're APES, and the planet is OF THEM, so there are MANY apes, who are APES and go OOK OOK!!!!
Speaking of which - The monkey noises get pretty old after a while. These apes wear clothes, ride horses, have gross monkey sex in gross monkey beds, and tattoo the Quake 3 logo on all of their humans. If they've evolved THAT much, why can't they stop dancing around scratching their armpits? Evolution should involve some actual evolution, right?
Wrong - It's 2029 when the movie begins, and where do we find our heroes? On a space station used to train monkeys to investigate space weather patterns and be SUPER EVOLVED next to Saturn. First of all, why the hell do we need to train monkeys to be super human in space? Is there any other logical reason for this, other than that they can take over our world and scratch their armpits on our soon destroyed Statue of Liberty? Second of all, why is it next to Saturn? There's no logical explanation for this either, other than the "it's a purdy planet with rings around it" special effects answer. Third of all...who the fuck put Marky Mark in charge of the super monkeys? The guy can't even beat off in the front seat of the guy's truck for TEN DOLLARS for God's sakes, how is he gonna keep our PLANET from ending up being OF THE APES?
I'm General Thade! I'm the star! It's my big dick and I say when we roll!
Here's Mark's list of accomplishments -
- Three Kings - almost blows the Gulf War for us.
- The Perfect Storm - blows a fishing trip, ends up battling tidal waves.
- Fear - doesn't blow Reese Witherspoon, blows a relationship with her because he's retarded.
- The Big Hit - blows his status as a "rising star" by appearing in a movie with Lou Diamond Phillips
- Boogie Nights - blows a lucrative porn career to go off and sing songs from the Transformers Soundtrack.
So long story long, if your grandpa ever brings home a mysterious pet for you he purchased in the underground of Chinatown, don't let Marky Mark take care of it or you'll be battling a town full of Gremlins the next day.
The good outweighs the bad as far as the movie goes, but, much like any other film created with effort this summer, everybody you know's gonna hate it. OMG no plot OMG no characterization OMG bad special effects OMG nipples on the ape suit. Just remember to go into it expecting a movie about angry jumping apes and you'll leave pleasantly surprised by the imagination put into it, and Estella Warren's wardrobe. Have you ever seen her lips? Sheesh, you could take a nap on her upper lift. AFTER SEX WITH HER AND JUNK!!!!!
In conclusion, all in all, to summarize, and finally, I think Planet of the Apes is a SPANKING good movie and deserves at least five, if not all nine of your dollars. I would say that it is better than the original, but if I did Charlton Heston might shoot me.
OMG UR SUCH A CUTIE PATOOTIE!!!!1
Thanks, Rosie. I give it six Koosh balls out of a possible four.
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