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MJ5K's Review

Created Apr 19, 2012 04:36PM PST • Edited Apr 19, 2012 04:36PM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Perfect 5.0

    Every decade has at least one truly standout, revolutionary sci-fi movie. For the 50’s it was The Day the Earth Stood Still. For the 70’s it was Star Wars. For the 80’s it was Blade Runner. For the 90’s it was The Matrix. For the 00’s it was District 9. And so far, for the 2010’s, it’s Inception. As for the 60’s, it’s easily a toss-up between 2001: A Space Odyssey or Planet of the Apes. Though this may just be because of nostalgia, I’d personally go with Planet of the Apes.

    Released in 1968, Planet of the Apes was a film that was able to carry important political and social messages whilst maintaining it’s entertainment factor. The film follows a trio of astronauts, led by George Taylor (the epically over-emoting Charlton Heston), as they crash land on a mysterious planet somewhere in the future. There they make a shocking discovery: apes are the superior beings whilst humans are but mindless animals. Seperated from his comrades, Taylor has no other allies but the chimpanzee couple and human sympathizers Dr. Cornelius (Roddy McDowall) and Dr. Zira (Kim Hunter). With Taylor’s knowledge, the chimps must defend his innocence to the aristocratic orangutans, led by Dr. Zaius (Maurice Evans), and the militant gorillas.

    Planet of the Apes is based on a novel by French author Pierre Boulle entitled Le Planetes de Singles (or, in English, The Monkey Planet). I’ve not read the book but from what I understand, the script follows it for the most part. The only major difference is that in the novel the ape civilization was far more advanced (i.e. helicopters, cars, etc.) than depicted here. However, I believe that change serves the movie better and accomidates the script’s message of superiority and inferiority. The script was written by Rod Serling, of Twilight Zone fame, and Michael Wilson and it’s one of the most brilliant science fiction scripts ever written. Mixing in exciting action, strong political messages, and some brilliant dialogue that would emulate the message and prove to go down in movie history as some of the most memorable lines in movie history (i.e. “Take your stinking paws off me you damn dirty ape!”).

    Producer Jacobs had wanted to make Planet of the Apes into a film for over a decade but was never met approval from any studios. Even with the assistance of star Charlton Heston, Jacobs’ dream of bringing the film to the big screen was for not. That was until Richard Zanuck, head of Fox, saw Jacobs’ make-up test film featuring Heston and Edward G. Robinson as Dr. Zaius and saw potential in the material. And thus, Planet of the Apes was a go.

    Though the test film was a good start, the film still required the assistance of a true make-up expert. Enter John Chambers, whose make-up certainly broke new grounds in the realm of make-up. The make was made to be distinct to the characters. The chimps were made to look more friendly. The orangutans were made to look seasoned and old. And the gorillas had to look fierce. The make-up cost took up much of the movies budget and took months to prepare. But it was truely worth it.

    Aside from a brilliant script and groundbreaking make-up effects, the acting is truely spectacular. Charlton Heston gives one of his most iconic performances as Taylor. It’s much different from most of his roles, as he was always an in-command type, larger-than-life hero who always had control. In POTA, all of those notions about Heston are gone. Throughout most of the movie he’s running around in loin cloth being chased by monkeys. It’s only in the final act does he show his inner hero and shows us the over-the-top awesomeness that is Charlton Heston. Many of the ape actors are excellent acting behind the make-ups. The trick for them was to overact so that it wouldn’t look like they were merely wearing masks. Roddy McDowalls and Kim Hunter are perfect as the couple of Cornelius and Zira while trained stage actor Maurice Evans gives a terrific performance as elderly statesman and antagonist Dr. Zaius.

    Applause should also be given to the direction of Franklin J. Schaffner. At the time, Schaffner wasn’t one of the most well-known directors on the Hollywood circuit and would only garner fame once committed to the epic Patton, which earned him an Oscar for direction. Schaffner showed his talents early on with this film. Schaffner proved to be very particular with each shot for the movie. From the shots of the desert to the lush crop fields to the ape city, every shot counts in this movie and are all shot well. The shots, however, wouldn’t be what they were without the experimental music score by the legendary Jerry Goldsmith. Each one perfectly set the tone for each scene.

    Planet of the Apes is a legendary movie for many reasons. It boasted important political messages at one of the most crucial points in American History, broke in grounds in the world of make-up and special effects, and was one of the most exillirating movies of the time. A true classic.

  3. Perfect 5.0
  4. Male Stars Perfect 5.0
  5. Female Stars Perfect 5.0
  6. Female Costars Perfect 5.0
  7. Male Costars Perfect 5.0
  8. Perfect 5.0
  9. Direction Perfect 5.0
  10. Play Perfect 5.0
  11. Music Perfect 5.0
  12. Visuals Perfect 5.0
  13. Content
  14. Tame 1.5
  15. Sex Innocent 1.0
  16. Violence Fierce 2.5
  17. Rudeness Polite 1.0
  18. Fantasy 5.0
  19. Circumstantial Fantasy 5.0
  20. Biological Fantasy 5.0
  21. Physical Fantasy 5.0


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Apr 19, 2012 10:04PM

Regarding MJ5K’s Review
Tremendous review MJ. I didn’t realize that Franklin Schaffner directed this or that Rod Sterling wrote it.

As to the chimps, I just posted my take on Monkey Business, which has a decidedly less sophisticated view of our closest relatives.