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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 28 March 2017 at 8:48am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

Oh, they're obviously, almost painfully CGI. I was impressed by the mo-cap acting of the various ape characters, but I was also struck by the CGI-ness of the apes in those first few scenes, and needed a bit of time to adjust to it.

Of course, CGI was the only way to tell the story that they were telling, but it's nowhere near convincing enough to pass for reality. Some scenes near the end really seemed more like something out of an animated movie than a live-action movie with CG characters inserted into it.

A solid enough film, though, despite the blatant CGI and some storytelling deficiencies and contrivances. 
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John Byrne
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Posted: 28 March 2017 at 5:10pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

HAMLET (1992)

The Branagh "full length" version, which I admit I have rather studiously avoided until now.

My fear was that Branagh, who tends to flamboyance, might be too "big" for the title role and, indeed, might manufacture a production itself too big for the piece. Which he did.

Very much did not care for the "sideways" cuts that flesh out monologues. Most especially did not care for Hamlet bedding Ophelia!

Ah, well! I still have Olivier!

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John Byrne
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Posted: 28 March 2017 at 7:52pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

PLANET OF THE APES (1968)

The original, and still the best. Connected to Pierre Bouelle's novel "Monkey Planet" only by a few names and the broadest story elements. (As Greg Kirkman noted, the movies sorta kinda morph into the book as they go along.)

A small revelation this time around: with each prior viewing (of which there have been many in almost fifty years!) I have furrowed my brow when Dr. Zaius cautions Cornelius "As you did for artifacts, make sure you don't bury your career!" Line just didn't make sense. Tonight, tho, for the first time I heard the line correctly: "dig", not "did"!

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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 29 March 2017 at 1:00am | IP Logged | 4 post reply

DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (2014).

Despite some more contrivances and predictable tropes in the same vein as the previous film, this one is quite good. These new APES films really are their own thing, rather than merely a watered-down version of the original(s), and I respect them for it.

And, it seems the filmmakers have finally found a solution to the problem which plagued the original series: trying to find a logical way to keep the story going. These new films are essentially an extended origin story, and are making full use of the dramatic potential of an apes vs. humans war. While there are hints of where things will go (the space mission mentioned in passing during RISE is both a cutesy wink to the original film, and the potential setup for a new version of that classic story, set decades/centuries after the events in the current films). 

Switch out the original's nuclear war for a global pandemic, and you have the perfect setting for a post-apocalyptic apes vs. humans war, which can easily play out for several more films, and eventually lead to something akin to the scenario seen in the original film: an advanced ape society, and humans reduced to primitive tribes. If the filmmakers choose to go that route, that is.

Anyway, despite the obvious CG-ness of the apes, they are all fully-realized characters, and the mo-cap performances are both remarkable and surprisingly touching. And the human cast ain't bad, either.

While these new films are incredibly well-made and engaging, they still don't hit the same brilliant science-fiction heights of the original. I have no hesitation in saying that the original is surely one of the greatest science-fiction films ever made, and so that's a high bar to jump. But, these new films achieve what the Burton film could not (and follow the same route as Carpenter's THING and Cronenberg's FLY)--they take only the most basic premise, and tell their own story in a pretty gosh-darn successful way, rather than merely trying to hit the same beats as the original, with a few lame new elements thrown in to freshen things up. The result is an equally-valid (though not superior, I would argue) variation on the core premise of an advanced ape culture. 

Very much looking forward to WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES. I also really need to snag the original film on disc. I believe there's a Blu-Ray boxset with all five original films available for a rather low price. I'll have to look into it. This whole experience of watching all the films has greatly deepened my respect for--and interest in--the original.


Edited by Greg Kirkman on 29 March 2017 at 1:41am
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 29 March 2017 at 1:20am | IP Logged | 5 post reply

And, just because it's that awesome:

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Michael Penn
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Posted: 29 March 2017 at 6:40am | IP Logged | 6 post reply


 QUOTE:
Tonight, tho, for the first time I heard the line correctly: "dig", not "did"!

No moving lips, muffled too -- even after nearly half a century, it's not always so easy to suss out what the Apes are saying.

The original remains for me a great film. Love it! 

I probably only have to wink at the dated "generation gap" aspect, but that's just a little tiny bit. I really wonder what somebody born much too late to have experienced that reacts to the back-and-forth between Lucius and Taylor.

"In my world, when I left it, only kids your age wore beards."

How funny that fashion is so cyclical. True in 1968 and for several years thereafter, and then by the late 70s up until just recently, completely untrue -- but today, with "hipster" beards having come into vogue, true again!
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John Byrne
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Posted: 29 March 2017 at 7:28am | IP Logged | 7 post reply

My absolute favorite moment in the whole movie comes when Zaius calls Taylor "Taylor".
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Michael Penn
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Posted: 29 March 2017 at 7:44am | IP Logged | 8 post reply

Tremendous acting in that scene.

Part of what I love about the movie is how it can be at the same time so profound and yet also incredibly humorous. "I'm up for a raise!"

I doubt anything about the movie could have been funny had they wisely decided never to show a human child. It's enough to see the doll. Contemplating the fate of children on this "upside down" world would be too horrific!
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John Byrne
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Posted: 29 March 2017 at 8:11am | IP Logged | 9 post reply

I doubt anything about the movie could have been funny had they wisely decided never to show a human child. It's enough to see the doll. Contemplating the fate of children on this "upside down" world would be too horrific!

I may not be following you here, but they do show a child, and it's a chilling scene.

After the hunt, the camera pans across the top of the corn rows, and we see a child bobbing along with his head too high for him to be walking. After a moment we see that he is being carried on the shoulder of a gorilla, in what seems for half a heartbeat to be a tender scene. Then the camera pans left, following the stride of the gorilla, and we and the child see the dead humans strung up by their ankles, and the other dead humans lying in piles on the ground. The child starts to freak out and the gorilla shifts him to a much less comfortable position as he stomps off screen.

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Michael Penn
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Posted: 29 March 2017 at 10:32am | IP Logged | 10 post reply

So much for my memory. Haven't seen the film in too many years to recall (obviously). Watched the hunt again. Of course, you're right. Piles of dead humans, and Ape shoulders a boy who'd been running among the adults.

Whew... that one is enough.


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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 29 March 2017 at 10:52am | IP Logged | 11 post reply

I've been reading about a subplot where Nova had become pregnant by Taylor by film's end, which ended up being completely cut out during editing. Would have changed the dynamics quite a bit, I think!
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 29 March 2017 at 10:55am | IP Logged | 12 post reply

My absolute favorite moment in the whole movie comes when Zaius calls Taylor "Taylor".
++++++

The brilliance of it is that Zaius seems at first to be a sort of stereotypical authority character who will not break from his fierce devotion to the popular belief system...who is then revealed to be a lot more savvy than we realized, and is sort of play-acting for the greater good. It's a fantastic piece of characterization.
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Doug Centers
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Posted: 29 March 2017 at 6:28pm | IP Logged | 13 post reply

I wish I could see PLANET OF THE APES for the first time again. So many still  powerful moments but wow what an impact that first time. 
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