Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Retro Review: Planet of the Apes (1968)


                                 These 'Apes' Eat Great-Tasting Bananas
                    After having seen Dawn of the Planet of the Apes not too long ago, it showed us how apes aren't much different from humans. Yet the original Planet of the Apes shows us this, but in a much more different way yet like Dawn, does it in a way that is quite plausible.
               Planet of the Apes follows the story of three astronauts, led by George Taylor (Charlton Heston), who crash land on an alien planet, where apes are the dominant species and are able to talk, but humans act more primal and are practically mute. Taylor himself becomes held in captivity while the apes try to study him and he tries to get his voice back since he becomes silent after an attack where he got shot in the neck, yet becomes attracted to a mute woman named Nova (Linda Harrison).

              First off, I loved the whole idea of Man being Beast and Beast being Man. To me, that is very interesting since people talk about how humans aren't much different from animals to begin with. Except here, we have humans actually acting like apes and apes acting and posturing like humans. I also loved how you could tell the different species of apes apart from each other: The orangutans are politicians, lawyers, etc. and dress in orange, the gorillas are more militaristic and dress in darker colors, and the chimpanzees are scientists and dress in green. Plus, the makeup effects on the actors playing the apes were very neat and really showcase the magic of prosthetics.

              Another thing I really liked about the story was the film's ending. I worry that I might implicitly give it away if I talk about it, but I'll just say that it ties together the whole mystery involving the humans on this "alien" planet together and I loved how the film has a bit of mystery to it as well as action and a demonstration of the world that these advanced apes live in. In my opinion, good sci-fi gives us an insight into the world of the advanced species or aliens or whatever and not just the humans themselves.

         I'll be honest, one minor complaint I have with this otherwise brilliant film is the character of Nova. I personally felt she didn't serve a whole lot of purpose to the story and mainly exists as eye candy for the male viewers. The character itself is my only complaint.

           Overall, Planet of the Apes is an insightful piece of sci-fi that features thoughtful storytelling as well as stunning makeup effects. Whether you are a fan of sci-fi or not, I would still say give it a watch, not just because it is a great film, but because it is essential and has stood the test of time.

Grade: A-

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