Friday, August 12, 2011

Apeshit Over Apes

In the mid-70's, my brother Colin and I collected Planet of the Apes trading cards. We both bought the View-master version of the movie, and we exchanged punches over who was going to get the last 'General Ursus' doll at Frank's Toy's, our local toy emporium. We got up every Saturday morning and watched Return to the Planet of the Apes (the cartoon) while leafing through Apes comics, we recorded the show's theme music and played it loud and often (true rebellion!), and when Battle for the Planet of the Apes got released and quickly paired with Ralph Bakshi's Wizards, I skipped school twice to see it. It wasn't even good!

Bottom line: We did everything to fill the fill the house with Apes back then. Apes were better than parents, better than teachers, and much better than stupid sisters. 

I saw the original Conquest of the Planet of the Apes with my dad. My mum wouldn't go near the fuckin thing because it was too "far-fetched". Star Wars was too "far-fetched" for her, too. While I was sitting down one evening with a pile of homework, she entered my bedroom, paused, then told me that Star Wars couldn't happen." Hang on, she hadn't even seen the film. Where was her credibility? Despite that minor quibble, it seemed important to her that this fact was understood. Perhaps she'd already perceived my slide towards the Dark Side of the Force.

 Apparently, this will never happen! Spread the word.

 Before you say, it, I'll agree, science fiction was not, is not, my mother's bag. Never will be.

I enjoyed the original Conquest. Wait a minute -- enjoyed? You thought about nothing else for days, cunt, after you'd seen it, and you pissed everybody off with your Apes obsession! OK, OK, I went apeshit over the film. Loved the red ape suits and the contemporary setting, loved the violent gorillas (their violent ignorance was inspirational!), and tapped my oversized toes to Jerry Goldsmith's rich, percussive score. Beyond that, I just wanted it all to be real. I lived in Mt. Waverley, Melbourne, Australia, for Chrissakes, we never got anything like ape action there.

As much as it now pains me to say it, I loved Roddy McDowell as 'Ceasar'.  Little did I know that Roddy would one day be very rude to me at a Fangoria convention. I forgive him for that now (today!) because there's no benefit holding a grudge for over twenty-two years, is there? But, yes, you were a cunt to a young fan, Roddy, but that's OK because I loved you as a giant chimp.

 Roddy prepares to give me an earful of bile at a Fangoria convention.

Pal, you were great in Class of 1984, too, and you were decent in The Fantastic Journey TV show, and very good in It, that Golem rip-off. For what it's worth to you in the ground wherever that may be, my mum liked you in the original Lassie. If you'd been rude to her, she wouldn't have been as forgiving as me. Clearly Lassie's brutal journey home to Elizabeth Taylor wasn't too far-fetched for the woman I called  "mum" (and variations of when she wasn't listening).

If only my little hometown of Mt. Waverley had hosted "awesome spectacles" like simian rampages.
The best we got was a puppet show in the Safeway parking lot.

Like most people, I'd like to forget Tim Burton's attempt to do an Apes film. Let's pretend it never happened. I'm sure Mark Wahlberg is fine with that.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes made this Apes fan very happy. It is a remake of Conquest, but it's very much its own movie, and it takes the themes presented in Conquest and develops them in imaginative ways. The best thing is its script. It's encouraging when a studio (Fox) allows a Summer film to have intelligence. Although the trailer makes it look like The Bourne Identity with hairy paws, it's far from that.

Almost three-quarters of the movie is focused on one ape, 'Ceasar' (Andy Serkis), and his development as a thinking, distrustful, intelligent being with the capacity to rule. His growth and maturity process is extremely well handled, and never does the film become a display of dazzling special effects (like a certain Michael Bay franchise). The effects work, by Weta Digital,  is beyond dazzling for its realism, but the story and characters always come first, and much emotion is derived from Ceasar's inevitable separation from his human supporter

Just as Ceasar embraces his destiny at the conclusion of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, I heartily embrace this movie. Now to find the View-master version. That will be ace!



In the original Planet of the Apes, the intelligent orangutan, 'Dr. Zaius', was played by actor Maurice 
Evans. In Rise, the intelligent oranguatan is named Maurice. I like that.


  1. I love movies, but there hasn't been a single movie this summer that has managed to pull me into the theaters...

    "Tree of Life" almost did.

    But I might go see this one this weekend. Based mostly on your review here, actually...

  2. Katy -- Tree of Life is worth seeing for its pure audaciousness. I had some problems with its tone, but respected its originality.

    I hope you will give the Apes a shot. It's quite a moving character study. Very emotional, if you care to let yourself go. Enjoy!

  3. jervaise brooke hamsterAugust 12, 2011 at 3:05 PM

    Its a shame they had to pollute this film with that British rubbish Andy Serkis.

  4. jervaise brooke hamsterAugust 12, 2011 at 3:14 PM

    Phantom, i`d be really interested to read your thoughts on Final Destination 5, i hear its more than just your everyday common or garden sequel.

  5. jervaise brooke hamsterAugust 12, 2011 at 3:34 PM

    Phantom, i just saw on IMDB that the director of this film, Rupert Wyatt, is British filth as well, the British ruin everything they touch (celluloid or otherwise), i know you said you liked this film but just imagine how much better it would have been if it had been made by an American. Maybe we could deny these British scumbags their passports, then they wouldn`t even be able to pollute the greatness of Hollywood with their loathsome British scumbag personae to begin with.

  6. A great review and childhood remembrances of a fellow APES fan.

    Hope to see it this week...

  7. Phantom! Any chance you can tell us what McDowell said to you?

    And to Hamster, Serkis is rubbish? How so? And, get outta town with that rubbish. :)

  8. jervaise -- Serkis did an amazing job on this movie. He's a very talented guy.


    Milkman -- He had a few words to say. One was "off", the other was "fuck". He looked stressed, too, so that would have accounted for his mood, I guess. Never mind. Still love him as an actor.

    Re: Hamster...perhaps Roddy should speak to him, too?

  9. jervaise brooke hamsterAugust 29, 2011 at 10:30 AM

    Katy is such a little darlin`, i know shes a dyke but i`d still love to bugger her senseless.