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April 17, 2018

Planet of the Apes (1968) --- "Guy Travels To The Future And Discovers Talking Apes. Find Out What Happens Next."

Plot Summary
Complex sociological themes run through this science-fiction classic about three astronauts marooned on a futuristic planet where apes rule and humans are slaves. The stunned trio discovers that these highly intellectual simians can both walk upright and talk. They have even established a class system and a political structure. The astronauts suddenly find themselves part of a devalued species, trapped and imprisoned by the apes. (1)

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Hello, Movie Buffs! 
     Planet of the Apes has been one of my favorite series since I first saw it when I was a little girl, and my father and I binged watched a TV marathon of the series. The first film was released in 1968, just a few months before 2001 A Space Odyssey, and made a huge impact on the style of modern-day sci-fi films. Personally, Planet of the Apes stands on its own, as a unique film that pushed the boundaries of our imagination and raises questions about today’s society without letting such question get in the way for the drama and action. Over the last 50 years, Planet of the Apes has attained classic sci-fi film status and is without a doubt a must watch for any movie guru.

     The film is based on the 1963 novel, "La Planete des singes," by the famous French author Pierre Boulle, who is known for the 1952 novel "La Pont de la Riviere Kwai" which later became the film The Bridge On The River Kwai (1957) is based. Now while I have not read the book the film is based on, I did read a brief summary of it so as to further understand the difference between book and film. Now due to budget constraints, the modern and technologically advanced ape civilization had to be reduced to a civilization more reminiscent of ancient Greece or even the Civil War era; rather than drive cars, fly planes, and watch TV the apes drive carts, ride horses, and shoot modified M1 Carbine. First Rod Serling (Twilight Zone) wrote the first draft by using the Twilight Zone as an outline for the and adding an anti-nuclear war theme that was not originally present. Then Michael Wilson (Bridge Over the River Kwai) came in to help write the final draft and the final product was a political allegory reminiscent of an Aesop fable, and asks the question: What will become of humanity and how did we originate?
     Under the intelligent and stylish direction of director Franklin J. Schaffner (Patton), the cast gave some great performances. Charlton Heston () was the perfect choice to play the unlikable American astronaut, George Taylor. He has a way of looking into the camera that just describes so many things about his character with very few words. You get a powerful sense of what is to come, and I believe without him this film would have been a lot less funny and pointed. It also helps that he some experience 'bastard' roles, as seen in The Naked Jungle (1954), Diamond Head (1963) and 55 Days At Peking (1963s). Roddy McDowall (Overboard) as chimpanzee Cornelius, Kim Hunter (A Streetcar Named Desire), as his wife Zira, Maurice Evans (Rosemary’s Baby), as orangutan Dr. Zaius, and Linda Harrison (Cocoon), as Nova, provided some of the best supporting performances in the film.  
     Through Schaffner’s direction, the performances bring the innovative make-up prosthetics of John Chambers (Planet of the Apes films) to life. For 1968 the prosthetics were very realistic and clearly ahead of their time, which allowed audiences to really connect with the film because they were not having to see past crappy prosthetics or make-up. Veteran cinematographer Leon Shamroy (Cleopatra) use of Panavision lensing took advantage of southern Utah’s remote areas, especially around Lake Powell, to suggest that the characters had ended up in an ‘alien world.’ Jerry Goldsmith's (Star Trek: First Contact) forward-thinking music score is iconic to the series and contributes tremendously to the weird atmosphere and eerie mood of the film. All these factors are what separates this film from being just an ordinary sci-fi flick and turn it into one of the most iconic sci-fi films in cinematic history.

     Overall, Planet of the Apes was a film ahead of its time in 1968, the initial smashed the box office it’s popularity has spawned 4 sequels, 2 TV series, a lamentable remake in 2001, a three-part reboot ten years later, and countless comic book novelizations. Most of these ‘descendents have proven to be inferior to the intelligent and classy quality of this original film but this does not make them mean they should be overlooked. On the contrary, I believe everyone should partake in this iconic sci-fi film, even if it's not your ideal film or others say it cheesy. Besides if you found the recent three-part reboot (Rise, Dawn, and War) enjoyable then I think you should at least see where the inspiration came from.

"Oh my God. I'm back. I'm home. All the time, it was... We finally really did it. You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!"
- George Taylor [screaming]

Final Vote
Worth Seeing:  9 of 10 stars
Worth Buying:  9 of 10 stars

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Movies Similar 
Legend of Tarzan (2016)
John Carter (2012)
Jurassic Park (1993)
Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World (1997)
Jurassic Park 3 (2001)
Jurassic World (2015)    
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018) 
King Kong (2005)
King Kong: Skull Island (2017)
Planet of the Apes 2, Beneath the (1970)
Planet of the Apes 3, Escape from (1971)
Planet of the Apes 4, Conquest of the (1972)
Planet of the Apes 5, Battle for the (1973) 
Planet of the Apes 6 (2001)
Planet of the Apes 7, Rise of the  (2011)
Planet of the Apes 8, Dawn of the  (2014)
Planet of the Apes 9, War for  (2017)
Rampage (2018)

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