Movie Review: Planet of the Apes

We kick off with Charlton Heston in a spaceship, showing the same type of clocks we would see in Back to the Future in a few decades, showing Ship Time in 1973 and Earth Time in 2673, always fun. Heston gives a nice little speech about Man keeping his neighbor’s children starving. Sad to say, Chuck, we still are. I never will understand why people in Cryo-Sleep strap themselves in. Like a seat belt is really going to do anything in SPACE. Charleston Heston gives a little speech about how humanity sucks.

After the credits, we crash-land in water, you would think some kind of collision detection would be built in, and going at “Deep Space” speed would have you slam into the Earth and blow to bits. Anyway, the men awake, and sadly the female’s pod didn’t work right, so she all dead. I wonder how long they were in Space Sleep, they only have about 2 month’s growth on the beards. So what killed her? If the Sleep didn’t work, wouldn’t she have woken up hungry? Then men abandon ship, and Heston sees the Earth Clock now reads the year 3798- I think it’s a Tuesday. Nice of the ship to put them in the middle of a lake in the desert. Chuck says they are 320 light-years from Earth somewhere in Orion’s Belt. Nothing will grow in the soil, and they have 3 days of rations. Time to get walking.

planet-of-the-apes-60-1Nice of the movie to give us three people to care about. The Star, the White Guy and the Black Guy. We get a fun little discussion between Charlton Heston and the White Guy about the Space-Time Continuum. For some reason Heston just wont get off the White Guys case about why he’s here. Charlton Heston is about as negative a person as he can be, Heston thinks that there is something in the Universe better than mankind, and that’s why he’s on the trip. Considering any Deep Space trip has got to be a one way trip, no matter what, that says a bit about why you would sign up for this. The Black Guy finds a flower, and the three men dig it out of the ground. Well, there goes evolution on this planet. I do wonder why it wasn’t near the big lake, considering how easily it came out of the dirt. Bigger question, why didn’t they stay near the water source? Anyway, as they walk, they see bigger and bigger plants and the audience gets to see shadowy figures, unseen by the men. Soon we see that House Bolton is on this planet! Going to investigate, Heston finds trees and takes off for running water and the three men skinny-dip. Uh-Oh, the White Guy finds a footprint, and catch something stealing their clothes. I hate when that happens when I’m skinny dipping with two other dudes.

Not that there is anything wrong with that.
They chase after the people, and start finding their stuff just strewn around and some of it torn up. Thankfully, they find their pants and only the black guy cares about a shirt. In a clearing, they find the whole tribe eating some kind of fruit. While Heston says he’ll be running the planet in 6 months, a roar goes up from the other side of the cornfield. Everyone takes off. We see horses and rifles firing, killing some people, and they we finally see it.

planet-of-the-apes-60-hear-no-evilOn horses.

Some people they shoot, some they capture,and quite a few go down if they are even near a net. There is like no fight in these people, and both the Black Guy and Heston are shot in the neck. Funny Enough, the first thing we hear an Ape say is “Smile” when taking a picture of the spoils of the hunt. The humans are sent to a medical research facility. Of course, due to the throat-shot, Heston cannot talk. We get a pretty blatant discussion on medical research on what we humans think of as lower level life forms that I really didn’t expect.

So how is the original Planet of the Apes?

Far better than the shocking twist ending. We start off with Charlton Heston being a bit of a prick, and a humanity-hating cynic to a defender of the humanity. Sadly he is stuck to fight on his own, and the social commentary is there on the screen- you don’t have to read into it, or project your own thoughts into it. Planet of the Apes says what it wants. The great thing is there is humor here- such as the see no evil gag that was just genius if you catch it the the first time.

planet-of-the-apes-60-scarecorwsThe amazing thing about the movie is that you don’t see the Apes for the first half hour, and you can kind of feel it but there is enough of a build that it’s not a horrible ride. Once we DO get the Apes, and yes, these effects are fifty years old, and sometimes you do catch the human below the mask (spoiler) or a break in the necklines, but by and large you don’t care. The actors are actually acting underneath all that and doing a stunning job. Watch all the twitching and just slight tics they have. The Pacing does slow down as we go along- the hearing and all could grind the movie to a halt, but again, the characters are built enough you don’t. All in all, it’s a fun ride. Even if you know what’s coming at the end, and I’m guessing we all do, it’s still worth the journey. Planet of the Apes does get preachy a bit, but I don’t care. I’m with it until the end.

I almost want to go the full 10 here. I do think the movie is entertaining, and I do think there is rewatchability in this film. I do think it does deserve it’s reputation as a sci-fi classic. You know what? I’m going to go the full 10. I do think this movie belongs on your DVD shelf, and I do think you have to watch it, at least once. There are enough good things to keep you entertained, and even if you are not exactly impressed by the makeup, this is a G-Rated movie even though there is male nudity- and no female nudity. Who says this movie isn’t ground breaking?

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