I first saw “Planet of the Apes” (the 1968 version) at a drive-in theatre at a very young age—old enough to remember it but I am guessing around 1969 when I hit twelve. It held double billing with “Barbarella”, which we never did finish watching that night. At the first shot of a half naked Jane Fonda my dad was out of the parking lot. With a car full of three kids, ages twelve to eighteen, and one wife he really didn’t have much of a choice. (Since that night I have seen bits and pieces of that movie and I am glad he left.)
The story of “The Planet of the Apes” fueled my young imagination and the state of the art effects (SOA for 1968 at least) thrilled me. The tale of three astronauts being lost in space and returning to an Earth in the future that is ruled by apes left me wanting more, asking questions—How could this happen? The sequels that followed merged throughout the years, one finally getting around to answering the questions—yet not good enough. I’m not going to even mention the television series from 1974 (all 14 episodes) or the ones that followed.
This is a cult classic, I love it and I have all the main movies. When the remake came out in 2001 I looked forward to it and was a little disappointed. Maybe it was Markee Mark or the fact that Heston returned just to reverse a famous line. (I wonder how much they paid him for that.) It just didn’t work for me. I would watch it again, but I would not add it to my collection. Just as I started to think Hollywood has run out of ideas, out comes “Rise of The Planet of the Apes.” The trailer itself gave me goose bumps.
This movie has answered most of my questions about how it all happened. This is the perfect prequel and one of the few films I have been happy buying before I see it. (Blu Ray DVD has awesome extras so be sure to check them out.) As the film makers did for Golem in Lord of the Rings, they hired Andy Serkis to walk around in a suit with all kinds of electrodes and LED’s so computer animators could fill in the rest to make Ceaser. Mr. Serkis is awesome as the first (technically he is the second) intelligent ape and pulls this off flawlessly. His expressions and mannerisms come through even after the awesome computer graphics are applied. There were a lot of people dressed in those suits for this movie that were taught how to “Ape Walk” by Terry Notary, the “movement choreographer,” who also played two of the apes. The writing is right on track with perfectly thrown in references to the original movie, some hidden and some not. There is one scene where a TV is playing in the background and I heard Heston’s voice, but I haven’t figured out which movie it is yet. I may by the third viewing. Tom Felton, Draco Malfoy from Harry Potter, just seems to reprise his mean boy role, but it ends up to be an electrifying performance none the less.
Still, for me, one question remains unanswered…but I can’t ask it or I will ruin the movie for anyone that hasn’t seen it. But go ahead, watch it, enjoy it. It is well worth it.