What a dreadful film. George Takei put it best when he said “Oh my”, believe me it’s hard not to “Oh my” once in a while during “New Moon”. “Oh my” why does that boy have his shirt off in the rain? “Oh my” why doesn’t she just listen to that pale boy from the shiny show and not become a vampire, he clearly has more experience than she does at being a vampire. “Oh My” how can a film feature so much god-awful silent staring for over two hours. How can director Chris Weitz seriously expect us to sit through this, I’m serious. I haven’t seen a movie this bad in a long while and watching it feels like trying to get comfy on a bed of nails. If you replaced “New Moon” with the ultra violence Alex had to watch in “A Clockwork Orange”, you’d reach the same end. In this way, I find “New Moon” to be quite an effective motivator.
I’ve actually been to Bruges. At one point Ray (Colin Farrell) remarks that he wants to “hide out in a proper country where it isn’t all just fucking chocolate”. There was chocolate in Bruges, but I didn’t get any because they had it all locked up behind exhibits in the museum, and what was there was bloody expensive. A chocolate museum that only gives you chocolate buttons as you enter? Maybe I’m not as culturally mature as I should be, or at least I wasn’t when I went to Bruges. “In Bruges” somehow made me want to go back even after I heard Ray repeatedly express his disdain for the place. “It’s a shithole” he says, and maybe he’s right, but they wanted me to pay for the luxury of going to the toilet, so I wouldn’t know.
There are some arguments about what exactly a sequel should be. Some will tell you that it’s to be the same as the first movie but with improvements made all around (because we know how often that happens) and some will say that the point is to change the formula and create something new out of previous concepts. I tend to not care as long as I get another film that is worth watching and doesn’t just reuse the formula until it’s boring. Franchises have done this time and time again and I’m sick of it. “Aliens” takes what Ridley Scott did with “Alien” and does almost exactly what it says on the tin, makes the enemy plural.
Since the original “Planet of the Apes” back in 1968, the sequels have tried to replicate it’s significance and meaning. Well, all except “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”, which had a bigger focus on plot and narrative than actual meaning. “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” is incredibly significant, far more so than the original ever was, and that is saying something. There are so many different messages within the film that I couldn’t sit here and tell you about all of them, and the likelihood is that I’ve forgotten some of them or just not even picked up on them. It’s not a film where the meaning is well hidden behind avant garde film making, that’s not to say that “Dawn” isn’t a smart and delightfully artistic film, because it is. It’s just the case that you would have to be a real troglodyte not to take anything at all away from the film. I have a lot to say, because “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” is, and I believe always will be; a culturally, historically and aesthetically significant film. I do adamantly implore you to watch “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” before this as it is also very good and it would be a shame for me to spoil it in this review, which I will.
“Rise of the Planet of the Apes” might be marketed as a prequel, and it certainly feels like one, but it definitely isn’t something you should watch before the original series or the Tim Burton remake. It takes the established concepts of “The Planet of the Apes” franchise and rewrites the beginnings of the rise of the apes and the decline of humanity. “Rise” certainly begs for a sequel and I eagerly await to see it, but “Rise” doesn’t cheaply give you a cliffhanger ending just to entice you for it. It does what all blockbusters, or any film in fact, should do. It makes you want more by proving to you that what it has to give is grand ideas and even grander execution. “Rise” is amazing, dare I say it, it’s even better than the original and certainly better than any of it’s sequels.
Here it is, the fifth and the last of the original “Planet of the Apes” franchise. “Battle for the Planet of the Apes” is an utterly useless exercise and finally drags the series down to the levels of the truly terrible, instead of the simply unremarkable. I can’t tell you how much I really wanted the series to go out with a bang. Literally, I thought this could potentially be a film that perhaps lacks in good characters and cinematic competence, but makes up for it in just pure large scale visceral carnage between the two warring factions of the apes and the humans. Regrettably, I report to you that “Battle” is neither. There is nothing worth talking about here, but I can be quite artistic with wasting my time.
Number four everyone, we’ve hit number four in a series that is slightly odd in its lack of consistency in quality. It’s gone good, to average, to good and now right back down to average again. I haven’t had the pleasure of ripping apart any of “The Planet of the Apes” films (yet) because they just haven’t gotten as bad as I expected them to. That still doesn’t make this one good, it’s just… passable. It’s one of those movies that is hard to review because I’m struggling to remember exactly what happened, it pulls all of it’s punches and ends up unremarkable and especially unmemorable.
“Beneath the Planet of the Apes” was the first sequel to “Planet of the Apes” and my opinion of it was that of utter indifference. My biggest problem with it was the knowledge that the series had continued and that, as is usually the case, things could only get worse from here. I’m so genuinely happy to report that that’s not the case, “Escape from the Planet of the Apes” is no masterpiece, but it isn’t bad and is certainly above average with a suitable amount of new ideas resulting from it’s obvious attempt to genuinely shake up the franchise in an effort to make it fresh, and in some respects, they succeeded.
The first “Planet of the Apes” at least attempted to be a little bit more than stock corny science fiction. It’s sequel, “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” completely descends into the realm of corny sci-fi, such in the vein of the original “Star Trek” series but without any of the grand themes of the quest for knowledge. This time we are provided with a new hero who looks deceptively like George Taylor (Charlton Heston) from the first movie, to the extent that when I first saw him I was genuinely confused as to what was happening and whether what I was seeing was a flashback. The gusto the original had just isn’t in this half-hearted sequel and it’s unfortunate to watch the originality (Yes I’m aware it wasn’t an original screenplay) of the first film get suddenly marred with the curse of the generic. It doesn’t bode all that well for the rest of the series and I am certainly less excited about viewing all of them, oh well.
Often films try to mimic what is a part of all great films, and that is the idea of the messages within, be they moral or immoral. “Planet of the Apes” is an example of a film that strives for greatness but falls just short despite the occasional scrape with said greatness that never amounts to anything beyond that. I will say that just because a film isn’t great that does not mean that it is not worth watching, or even that it’s not of genuine quality. “Planet of the Apes” is a good science fiction film that will just leave you wishing it had done a little bit more than it did, because there are the makings of a real classic here.