Movie review: Planet of the Apes (1968) & Beneath The Planet of the Apes (1970)

*Just some quick thoughts on these two films*

By Franz

Planet of the Apes series is one of the most infamous movie series of all time, parodied a million times and also hailed as one of the most creative sci-fi series ever. Now, I’m a movie buff, but this is my first time seeing any of them, for some reason, I just never seen them. But I got the original series for only 15 euros on DVD and honestly, five films for 15 euros is such a good deal, I would have bought any movie that kind of price.

plönät

So, I guess we should start with the first one, the original 1968 PotA with Charlton Heston. It’s considered one of the finest sci-fi films and was a huge hit that has probably parodied more that any other sci-fi film. And I don’t understand why it’s considered a classic. Okay, sure, it’s interesting, the world is very well constructed, there’s some interesting, if somewhat blunt, philosophy and Heston is very charismatic. And while the story is though provoking and fantastical, the script is so blah. The only interesting thing about the story is just the concept, other than that, it’s just screenplay 101, with nothing interesting in it, I knew where it was going all the time and yeah, that may be because everyone has already spoiled everything about this film, but still, the story construction was overly simple. I really hoped that the story would have been told with more creativity and imagination like the concept is.

But there are good things: I love the set design, it really gave a feel that this is a real place and I can understand how it would fool somebody into thinking it’s not Earth. Heston, even though how over-the-top he can be, is a joy to watch and does show his charisma. The ape make up, which is infamous, is fine for the most part, but I have to say it’s pretty dated now, especially when they kiss, they basically just ram their heads into each other like fucking goats. And the ending is quite fantastic, even though everybody will see it coming because of years of parodies. And for years now, I have been quoting Heston’s lines like “You maniacs!” and “Goddamn you all to hell!” and whenever me girlfriend touches my face “Take your stinking paws off me you damn dirty APE!”. I’m just kidding. But anyway, it’s a lot of fun to hear those iconic lines in context.

I don’t have a lot to say about this film, the concept is great, Heston is fun and overall it’s pretty entertaining. The script is so basic and un-imaginative and it’s a bit dated. I can’t say it’s a “great film”, but it’s  good film at least. It’s 6/10, maybe a 6.5/10 from me.

Beneath the Planet of the Apes

bönöt

One of the reasons I wanted to see the original series was because I’ve heard that the sequals were batshit nuts. And during the first half of this one, I was concerned. It was just very poorly made, but it wasn’t crazy enough. But after about forty minutes, I was delighted. This is film is fucking crazy. Like Michelle Bachman crazy. Actually more like Alex Jones crazy: it doesn’t make any goddamn sense, but the ideas are so from the left field, you kinda just want to listen to where it’s going.

Okay, first up: it’s not a good film. I know there are some fans of this film and call it one of the best films in the series, but I have to heavily disagree here. Am I really the only one who thought that the ideas in this film weren’t brilliant, rather childish and just complete mindfucks? I’m going to spoil some shit, so if you haven’t seen this yet, well, go see it. Why do they have masks on if they’re the only ones in there? Why would they feel insecure? If they have magical powers, why don’t use them on the apes? If they are afraid of the apes, why did they hide just a mile away from them? How did the apes even find them? Did they follow Brent’s scent? Was he that smelly? Why did the humans first speak to Brent via telepathy and then randomly switched to normal speaking, wouldn’t it have been a lot easier just to talk? How did they get their clothes? The nuclear holocaust probably happened thousands of years ago, since if it happened recently, the apes (the common apes) would have known about the humans, so how are the current humans disfigured? Do disfigured people have disfigured babies? Is that how evolution works? And how did they make the masks? If the masks are old, how have they stayed so nice looking through the years? If human evolution reached the point of telepathy, how come the normal animal-humans couldn’t even speak? Did the evolution just forgot about them? Why did Heston dissolve into a mountain?

But it was a fun film, 3/10.

If you have answers to my questions, please by all means, post it in the comments.

The Martian (2015)

mörtiän

I know I haven’t been very active lately, I just haven’t had the time to review a lot of stuff. But, finally I’ve made me glorious comeback to film writing. So, what am I going to review? Well I just saw Luis Bunuel’s classic 1961 film Viridiana. And I also saw James Marsh’s Man on Wire, oh and also Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu. But I know most of you don’t care about those films, so I also saw Ridley Scott’s The Martian. So, I guess I should review that one, since it is a new, big budget film.

I was hyped for this, I didn’t read the novel, but I like Scott’s work and the trailer looked really good, like absolutely fucking good. I was so hyped, I actually went to the the theaters to watch this, and I rarely go to the theaters (no time, no money, you know). And to my surprise, it was okay. I want to stress that I haven’t read the novel, so I have no idea how the film differs from it, I’m judging this as a film, not an adaptation. So, let’s start the review:

Characters/Performances

This film has a lot of characters and a lot of famous actors: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Donald Glover, Michael Pena, Kate Mara, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels and the list goes on. But really there’s only one main character and that is of course Matt Damon as Mark Watney. His character is a smart, wise-cracking, joe-schmoe-with-a-degree-in-botany and Damon does a decent job. He’s very likeable with his sarcastic remarks and his tough human spirit thing, but I didn’t really think he’s all that special. Sure, he’s a lot of fun, he’s the everyman (kinda) so it’s easy to relate to him, but as somebody who prefers complexity over everyman-status (in most cases), I can’t say that I found the character to be anything more than a popcorn film star. I mean, Damon is very natural in it and he has a lot of charisma so nothing feels awkward at all and Watney is a very sympathetic character, it’s very easy to root for him and his comments are often chuckle-worthy.

dömen, my man

I’m not saying he’s a bad character at all, but we rarely see him anything more than a sarcastic smart-guy. There’s like two scenes, where he’s desperate and thinking he’s going to die, now, you could argue he doesn’t indulge into fears like that because he’s a trained astronaut, but that’s a bit stretching to say, considering NASA probably doesn’t train astronauts to survive alone in a planet. So, I would have hoped to see a bit more desperation, a bit more of him losing his sanity. Most of the problems are solved fairly easily and not a lot of problems even come. I was expecting something awful to happen constantly like in Gravity, but really only one (albeit majot) bad thing happens, which again, is solved pretty quickly. There is a wonderful scene where we do see Watney scared, which is the little moment when he is looking at the MAV (I would give more detail, but I don’t want to spoil it). That was a quite stunning, subtle scene. But, basically right after he goes back to the headquarters, after almost dying and his crew leaving him, almost right after he’s like “I’m not going to die”. Which was strange, I mean, you’ve been there like two hours, you should be thinking “I am going to die here”. But, anyway, Watney’s likeable enough, nothing special, but whatever.

Like I said, this is filled with recognizable faces and most of them are pretty good. Daniels as the douchebag authority is fine I guess, though his character is a bit cheap, he brings some charisma. Donald Glover as the quirky scientist is decent, I liked Glover in Community where he was pretty damn hilarious, but here he’s the standard quirky nerd type which doesn’t really fit him, so at times his delivery is awkward, but overall he was very decent. Kristen Wiig was surprisingly forgetable in this, which is strange, ’cause she’s a very good actress. I don’t even remember what her character was doing in the film. Kate Mara, Jessica Chastain, Michael Pena and the rest of the crew of Hermes are all just cardboard cut-outs, they have no personality other than Pena who is the “bro” for Watney. But the rest are just so basic and boring, I found them the dullest part of the film. Sean Bean was fine, I guess, he looks like he’s about the cry in every scene he’s in, but fine I suppose. Chiwetel Ejiofor (totally had to look how to spell that one from IMDB) is good. He’s very natural in his performance, though his character is average and borderline boring, Ejiofor brings charisma to it.

Basically the only stand out performance was the lead, sadly. Though it’s an impressive cast, I can’t say many of them were very unforgetable. Glover sticks out in my opinion, but probably just because I’m a fan of Community. While nobody was terrible, nobody was really spectacular either, which was a disappointment to me, since I was hoping a lot more from this cast.
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