Take your stinkin' paws off my cinema snacks!
As Laurel and I had so much fun watching the four Alien films for Issue 1, we decided to try to do a movie marathon for every issue that ties in with the theme. This issue's theme being Animals, Beasts and Creatures we of course decided on Planet of the Apes, of which there were too many films to watch in one day, so we just got the first three.
Neither of us had seen them before, although I have seen both the terrible terribly awful Tim Burton film, and the ok-I-guess more recent one starring James Franco and Andy Serkis as Caesar the chimp. Laurel did suggest watching the Tim Burton one “for laughs” but I couldn’t bear it, not even for jokes.
Laurel and I buy too many cakes to get us through the three films and then settle down on her sofa. There will definitely be spoilers!
Lucy-Anne Smee = LAS
Laurel Jo Sills = LJS
The Planet of the Apes (1968)
Laurel has a habit when watching SF films, to comment on the lack of health and safety that our future descendants seem to have. (She was concerned about the smoking on the Nostromo in Alien). She reprises her role as health and safety officer when Charlton Heston, after six months in deep space, lights a cigar. I feel that he's been in deep space for six months and can do what he likes. He delivers an absolutely fantastic soliloquy about what they might find when they return to Earth. "Does Man still keep his neighbour's children starving?"
LAS: That was excellent. I am loving this liberal, cigar-smoking astronaut.
LJS: He shouldn't smoke though.
The rest of the crew are shown, and are relatively diverse!
LJS: There's a lady and a Black man! That's good, diversity.
LAS: I bet they're for it first, though. [This turns out to be true. They both die first, in that order].
Charlton goes to sleep and the opening credits roll.
LJS: So far, I love it. The opening credits and opening score are excellent.
LAS: I miss lengthy opening credits in films.
The spaceship crash-lands in a lake in a desert.
LAS: As predicted, the woman is dead - nary a word spoken, in fact, not conscious for one second. Bye, mute, unconscious blonde lady!
LJS: That hilarious clock says it's 3978! That is insanely far ahead in the future.
LAS: These beards are really excellent. I hope none of them shave throughout the film.
LJS: As well as their beautiful beards, their survival packs are great.
LAS: Yes, super efficient.
The survival packs are instantly shown to be completely inefficient when Landon takes a tiny American flag and sticks it in the ground.
LJS: Tiny, American flags are not necessary to survival. Could have fit some matches in there instead.
The three beardy dudes head off to find signs of life. Charlton has naturally brought the remains of his cigar along.
LJS: He should take this opportunity to quit.
LAS: It's a symbol of him taking this whole crisis in his stride. He's not lamenting their past, planting useless flags. He's just fine.
They find life! They instantly dig up the plant.
LAS: Why did they do that! This is why humans are bad.
LAS: Wow, Dr Zaius' reasons for keeping the humans out sound like the Daily Mail talking about immigration. This film is very good.
Zira and Cornelius do an adorable chimp kiss.
LJS: OMG their noses and kisses are so cute.
Zira is amazed at Charlton Heston's intelligence and paper aeroplane design skills.
LAS: Cornelius is not so convinced. This is so interesting! He prefers to believe the popular myth of the human savage instead of actual evidence. I love how this is pro-science.
LJS: This film has so many themes!
The gorillas put a gimp mask on Heston and drag him out the room backwards.
LJS: Jesus, that was such an amazing shot.
Charlton Heston talks to the unrealistically pretty human woman, who, like the woman on the spaceship at the beginning, has literally not one line of dialogue.
LJS: She is so clever to be able to find a hairdryer and tweezers even though she is a primitive lady in prison.
LAS: And lip gloss.
An excellent trial scene occurs, in which the judges create a monkey 'hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil' tableau.
Beneath the Planet of the Apes, 1970
The last scene of the previous film plays again, and then a second spaceship crashes. The astronaut confusingly looks a bit like Charlton Heston.
LJS: I like the cut of his jib. I think if this film was made now, he'd be played by Chris Hemsworth if Charlton Heston is Michael Fassbender.
He finds mute lady Nova, but not Taylor.
LJS: She has been wandering the desert for quite a while now I would guess, but still, amazing hair and lipgloss. Where in her tiny costume does she hide her beauty accessories?
Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971)
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Next follows an excellent extended sequence in which all three beardy men are naked, after finding a lake to wash in.
LAS: This is great.
LJS: [the three of them are standing in a circle, naked, looking down at the ground] What are they doing? Comparing willy sizes?
LAS: Maybe. I feel like Charlton Heston DOES have a bit of a Fassbender vibe about him, with that beard.
They are hunted, along with the 'savage humans', by the apes. Dodge gets shot in the head.
LAS: God, he did die next. He also spoke the least out of the three of them.
The apes pose with their dead spoils for pictures.
LAS: This is so creepy.
We are introduced to the doctor apes, including Zira and Dr Zaius.
LAS & LJS: Dr Zaius, Dr Zaius! Help me, Dr Zaius!
LAS: The trial is a good way to discuss all the philosophical themes of this film!
Charlton and mute pretty lady escape.
LJS: No! He's shaving his beard off! We nearly got through the whole film with him and the beard. Where did he even get the shaving cream from?
Action scenes and then…. Statue of Liberty! "Goddamn you all to hell," screams Charlton Heston.
LJS: But, does he means humans or apes, ahhhh?
We eat more cake and discuss how excellent the film was although I disapprove of the ladies' roles in it.
Nova shows Brent the Ape City.
LAS: Why is the gorilla military quite so big? They should concentrate more on agriculture I think, if they are worried about survival.
LAS: Naked, sweaty apes! Amazing.
LJS: I wish Brent was sweaty and naked.
Brent finds Cornelius and a pregnant Zira, who try to help him. Dr Zaius comes in and they try to explain the medical supplies away by saying that Cornelius hit Zira because he was annoyed at her outspokenness at the ape meeting.
LJS: What the hell???
LAS: Dr Zaius was just like 'Oh cool that is a good reason for hitting a lady!'. That ape is such a wang.
Ape training montage where the gorilla military are gearing up to go to war against an unidentified enemy.
LJS: I don't get this ape caste system.
LAS: I don't understand it either. Why are the gorillas all warlike? Why are the chimps peaceful? Animal essentialism! Surely some of the gorillas would want to be peaceful farmers/scientists and some of the chimps would be macho wangs? I'm not entirely sure what the orangutans do except be all judgey and wangy.
Brent and Nova meanwhile find the underground cavern and Brent realises he's in New York.
LAS: This set is pretty amazing though. Although I'm not sure that New York Public Library and Radio City and the Stock Exchange are all immediately next to each other.
LJS: Brent is pretty amazing.
LAS: Your love for him is blinding your critical faculties.
Brent drinks from a fountain, goes mad, tries to strangle Nova.
LAS: What? This film's gone insane.
Brent is brought in front of some kind of telepathic, evil, atom bomb-worshipping future human underground civilisation council, who control his mind and make him kiss then strangle Nova.
LJS: Well. This is weird. And also, how big is this secret underground human gene pool? Have they just been inbreeding for two thousand years? Is that where they got their telepathic powers from?
The future evil humans take off their fake human faces to reveal horrible veiny faces and then sing All Things Bright and Beautiful.
LJS & LAS: Umm…
In an attempt to rescue Taylor and get themselves out of prison, beautiful, mute Nova gets shot and killed.
LAS: Thank you for being the perfect screen lady, Nova. Mute and beautiful and willing to die for a man.
After another fight scene, Taylor sets off the atom bomb as he dies. The world explodes and everyone dies.
As we bake some pies, we discuss how that film escalated into total insanity and the loveliness of Brent didn't make it worth it.
LJS: I can't believe they kept going for so many films after that nonsense, but here we go.
A US spaceship crash lands in California in the 1970s and the military go to investigate. Zira and Cornelius get out! The military assume them to be trained animals, despite the evidence that they just piloted a spaceship and take them to the zoo sick bay.
LAS: Is that a man in a gorilla suit pretending to be a gorilla?
LJS: Hmm. If that man scientist is the main human male character, then I am disappointed. Where are the beardy, lean, sometimes naked astronauts?
Zira tells this male scientist (Lionel) guy that she and Cornelius like him and it's a bit odd.
LJS: That was strange. It was a big suggestive, like they are swingers.
The American President announces the discovery of the two intelligent future apes and the international news picks it up.
LAS: Ha! The British news anchor's studio is an oak paneled library! He has a Union Jack behind him!
LJS: If I were at this press conference, I would just think they are two people dressed up like chimps. I would demand evidence that they aren't just two people with chimp makeup on. As they are just two people with chimp makeup on.
The chimps are a hit and become the talk of the town!
LAS: Oh my god oh my god, please let this be a 1970s shopping montage.
There is a 1970s shopping montage.
LAS: Yes! This scene has won me over to this series again.
Zira gives a feminist speech at a woman's club and is cheered.
LJS: OK, it's good again.
However, everything very quickly goes pear-shaped when the evil scientist convinces the President that the chimps should be interrogated, and they are moved to the evil-sounding Camp 11.
LJS: I find it so weird yet cool that Zira has a carpetbag like Mary Poppins.
Lionel helps them escape to a circus. The circus master says, 'you are asking me to harbour two killer apes? The answer is yes, a thousand times yes!'
LAS: This guy is brilliant.
Zira has her baby, says goodbye to a normal chimp who also has a baby, and they go into hiding again.
LJS: I have to say, I am bored of this. They are just going on the run a lot. There's a bit too much PLOT and not even cool discussion of interesting themes like in the first film.
In the final action scene, the evil scientist shoots Zira and the baby, Cornelius shoots the evil scientist and the army shoot Cornelius. Zira chucks her baby into the sea.
The chimp baby still at the zoo spookily starts saying ‘Mama, Mama’ which echoes over the last scenes.
LAS: Oh she swapped her baby with the chimp's. That's not really fair as that is like saying her baby is worth more than the chimp's baby.
LJS: Maybe it's because we have been sitting here for hours, and I feel sick as we've eaten too much cake, but I was disappointed in that. It could have been a lot better.
LAS: There were really good parts in this third one! I mean, 70s shopping montage and crazy circus master, come on.
We are too tired to find out what happens to Zira and Cornelius' baby in the next film. I may find out in the future, but I think Laurel's given up. Perhaps not enough beardy astronauts for her tastes.