[Digital Drift 2014]

We conclude the Planet of the Apes series for now with the 2014 follow up to Rise, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

Continuing the story of Caesar and his new tribe of intelligent, simian compatriots we rejoin earth ten years after the close of the last picture, a quiet, overgrown world of dilapidated buildings being reclaimed by nature, separated pockets of humanity scrabbling to survive and one group of apes living in peaceful seclusion in the woods close to San Francisco.

We accompany you on a journey through discovery and loss, betrayal and loyalty, and actions led by hope and fear. In doing so we take in some truly stunning performances in what constitutes a triumphant thematic remake of the worst of the previous films; Battle for the Planet of the Apes. This is how that should have been done and we’re both so very glad people have taken to this series. 

[Digital Drift 2014]

Ten years after the Burton version surfaced, spluttered and sank this one came out of absolutely nowhere, surprising everyone. Set up as an alternate prequel to the premise of the original 1968 Planet of the Apes, this movie answered the question of “How could this actually happen?”. In marketing terms it serves as a reboot, beginning its own new series which has now branched off from the original five movies into its own circular arc. 

One thing I found while editing this show together was that I didn’t have many clips I could use. This is, as I came to realise, because this movie is a masterpiece of visual storytelling. Everything you need to know is conveyed far better in terms of what you’re looking at, both in terms of its ape and human stars.

Director Rupert Wyatt is at the top of his game here, James Franco and John Lithgow pull off rarely valued, powerful performances and of course Andy Serkis takes center stage embodying one of the finest collaborations between performer and digital artists the world has ever seen. Caesar, the chimpanzee, capable of a subtlety and gravity of presence that most actors never achieve.

January 18, 2014

Planet of the Apes (2001)

[Digital Drift 2014]

2001: Planet of the Apes

Some 28 years after the original quintet closed out, and after over a decade in development limbo being passed from writer to director like a hot potato, crossing the paths of some of the most significant of Hollywood players the reboot/remake/reimagining of the original 1968 Planet of the Apes was ultimately rushed to the screen with Tim Burton at the helm and the kind of slapdash, thrown-together approach that stifles overall vision and creative freedom. 

And so begins a podcast-long rant about the constant meddling backstage during development, the nonsensical story, the erratic pacing, the occasionally rather excellent casting and  prosthetic makeup and most of all the appallingly tepid play-acting nonentity that is Mark Wahlberg. This bozo has darkened our screens long enough and I’m hoping this podcast sways public opinion enough that his inexplicable popularity falters and he has to eke out his remaining years doing breakdancing movies and straight to video frat comedies that I was going to ignore anyway. He can be the angry sports coach who wants to crack down on the slackers.

Next week the one that surprised everybody and began the new ongoing series, taking the premise seriously and giving the world some of its finest performance capture creations; Rise of the Planet of the Apes. 

[Digital Drift 2014]

1971: Escape from the Planet of the Apes
1972: Conquest of the Planet of the Apes
1973: Battle for the Planet of the Apes

The remaining three movies from the original series of five get the Drift treatment. Again we went in having never seen any of them and reviewed them immediately following our first watch. So our emotions are raw and reactions pretty strong. 

Escape turned out to be a 70s flavoured political thriller, not unlike a small scale Winter Soldier which we watched around the same time. It also had the most heart of the five. Conquest is a film that Rise ended up being patterned after, with a harsh undercurrent of slavery and revolution at its core and a hastily rewritten ending. Then the series went from a place of strength to wobbly, embarrassing, confused, and laughably mismanaged as it farted out of existence with Battle for the Planet of the Apes, which bears the unmistakable signs of the crazy mutants of the rushed second movie; Beneath the Planet of the Apes.

Kim Hunter and Roddy McDowall remain the standout stars of these three and what they manage with the basic ape masks is genuinely impressive. Hopefully our disgust at Battle won’t dissuade some of you from digging into Ape history with the others.  

Next week we return to the movie that ruined Alex’s 21st birthday to see if it’s still as awful as we remember. Tim Burton’s re-imagining of the original Planet of the Apes.


[Digital Drift 2014]

1968: Planet of the Apes

1970: Beneath the Planet of the Apes

For newcomers to the series, all eight movies of which will be reviewed over the coming weeks here is a brief breakdown of events. 

1. Universe A: The first five Planet of the Apes movies spanning the period between 1968 and 1973. Planet of the Apes / Beneath the Planet of the Apes / Escape from the Planet of the Apes / Conquest of the Planet of the Apes and Battle for the Planet of the Apes. You can also include the short-lived live action TV show, comics and animated series in this period (although we won’t be reviewing these that doesn’t mean you guys can’t talk about them at length on the forum).

2. Universe B: The 2001 Tim Burton directed re-imagining of the original movie.

3. Universe C: Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. This originally started out as both a reboot and an alternate prequel to the original movie (as well as loose remakes of Conquest and Battle for the Planet of the Apes) but has now clearly branched into its own universe where events played out differently to the history laid down in the initial quintet of movies. 

This first podcast covers the first two movies, Planet of the Apes and Beneath the Planet of the Apes. We recommend that all listeners at the very least see this first one for its historical significance and most of all, track down Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the 2011 movie that came out of nowhere and surprised everyone by not being terrible and in fact being truly excellent. 

But for these first ones send your mind back in time to the late sixties to a time when men were men, teenagers were hippies, war was a very immediate topic, women were saying scary things about equality and civil rights were being challenged left, right and center. We were experimental in our approach, having only ever seen the first of the original five before and reviewing each movie in turn after viewing for the first time. That way you get our immediate reactions. We pull no punches and judge the film as far as it holds up today, before moving onto its grotty, rushed and unintentionally hilarious sequel.

Next week, things take an unexpected upturn as films 3 and 4 turn out to be really rather good… however there’s the matter of film 5. After that it’s Tim Burton’s contribution followed by Rise and then Dawn for a total of five shows.

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