Showing posts with label POTA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label POTA. Show all posts

Monday, June 22, 2020

Doc Watch: Making the Apes - The Artists Who Changed Film (2020)

Watched:  06/21/2020
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  William Conlin

There's not much to spoil here - it's a fact based documentary on the people behind the iconic make-up for the run of the original 5 Planet of the Apes films, the TV show and more.  It does a good job of contextualizing the state of the art in the mid-60's and how they got there, starting in the Lon Chaney era. 

Really, what I liked is that - as much as it's about the make-up and creation of - it gives personality and stories to the people who were there and made a vision a reality.  We sometimes forget there are minds and lives behind the people who aren't the writers, directors and actors - but those unseen wizards who rise at 2:30 AM to be at work by 4:30 AM to get the actor on the set by morning, looking like a gorilla?  Those are people who fell in love with monster make-up to such a degree, that's how they love and what they've chosen to do. 

And, of course, for the people involved, Planet of the Apes - which won an honorary Academy Award for make-up before it became a staple of the Oscars - was a major turning point in the lives of a lot of people in the Hollywood make-up industry.  It was sort of the digital T-Rex of its day. 

It's currently streaming on Amazon, and if you're any kind of POTA fan, I recommend giving Making the Apes: The Artists Who Changed Film a go. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Ape Watch: War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)

I was skeptical when Matt Reeves and Co. relaunched the Planet of the Apes franchise a few years back.  We're big fans of the original five films here at The Signal Watch - but despite a certain affection for Tim Burton and an appreciation for anything with a simian in a featured role, I've only seen that remake once.  Because I kind of hated it and wound up having to apologize to several friends who agreed to go see the movie with me.

So, yet another go at the idea wasn't something I was looking forward to initially.

But, lo and behold, Rise and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes were released, and, yea, I dug them. They managed to find an astonishing line where they could break from the original narrative but still give nods enough, show respect for those movies and still be entirely their own thing.  If Caesar wasn't the child of apes who'd traveled through time and space, we still found a way to make him the founder of the Ape Society that didn't need to bend time and space to get the job done.  And if I always stood by the complex heart of the original slate of films, the new movies refused to be any less challenging.

I'm pleased to report that War for the Planet of the Apes is a worthy conclusion to the trilogy, an astonishing technical achievement, and - as all the apes movies have been (save the Burton one-off) a thoughtful character study and examination of morals.  And, of course, a dystopian sci-fi franchise that actually earns its dim view of humanity.  It isn't just ignorance or folly that leads to man's downfall, it's mankind's inability to tame our demons that drives us straight over the cliff.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Ape Watch: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

I had decided that for my Labor Day, I was going to watch a Planet of the Apes movie, probably the first one from 1968.  Instead, I wound up watching the recent Apes reboot reboot sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) as it started early on HBO.  A nice coincidence.

It's no secret I'm a big fan of the Planet of the Apes movies, starting with Heston.  I didn't like the Tim Burton attempt at a reboot in the slightest, but Rise of the Planet of the Apes got me back to the theater.  

The first time I saw this movie, it kind of got ruined by a drunk and/ or disorderly woman sitting behind me.  You hate to think something like that will color how you see a movie, but, boy howdy.

In the comfort of my own home, and with only Jamie and the dogs here to act drunk and disorderly, it was a lot less distracting to get through.

The movie begins after the Simian-Flu, the modern answer to the nuclear fears of the Cold War era Apes movies, has devastated humanity over the course of a decade or more.  In the forests North of the Golden Gate Bridge, the apes that escaped in the climax of Rise of the Planet of the Apes have settled and built a society.  They hunt, live in structures, communicate via sign language and seem to carry the intelligence of man.  A handy thing as "struggling with intellect versus the baser instincts of man" is the driving force of the picture.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Spy Shows, Melodrama, Planet of the Apes

The only TV I had time to watch this weekend was an episode of Archer and a week-and-a-half-old episode of The Americans.  I'm still liking the show well enough, but I kind of think they need to slow it the hell down.  I'm no master spy, but having a new mission every week while you're supposed to be undercover and a sort of sleeper agent feels like a lot of missions.  Perhaps it makes sense in the context of Archer, but I'm cool with long-game sorts of scenarios and letting the domestic issues the show writers seem to want to focus on (and I welcome) broil from episode to episode is fine.

But, really, I have no complaints.

Well, one.  Every episode now seems to end with our leads in their bedroom having a whispery and angry conversation, and it's a bad pattern to get stuck in.  Yes, we need to see these two together, but somehow it reminds me of how Smallville started going downhill when every episode started ending the A Plot with 10-15 minutes left, and spent 10 minutes with Lana and Clark in Clark's barn-loft with Lana making cow eyes at each other and being weepy teens.

If the killer Russian spies turn into Clana, I shall be disappointed.

I also picked up and read the second volume of  a trade of a Planet of the Apes comics series that has to be two or three years old now.  It's well written and fantastically drawn, and, like all POTA stuff, it's also headed somewhere incredibly nihilistic and depressing.  Just showing a world where humans still talk is the start of the end of a world where humans cease talking and become primitive and beast-like by their first appearance in the Cheston films.  And, of course, when you blow up the Earth in the second movie (spoiler?), there's just not really a "and things get better" to be had.*

All of this makes it hard to go seek out the third volume as... I kind of know how all this wraps up.  Hmmm...

Mostly, I worked on Saturday, and today I made a cake for Jamie's birthday.  And then we made dinner.  And now I'm sort of done.  And the weekend is over, and we're starting all over again.

*yes, there are three more films after they blow up Earth.  What of it?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

General Update: SXSW, Books, This week's Comics, Pop Art


While I'm still not firing on all cylinders, I'm so much better than this time last week.  Basically, I think I'll have a cough and sinus issues for a while, and I don't want to risk 30 minutes on the elliptical til this weekend, but I'm basically back up to firing speed.


As we say in Austin, "South By" is on.  Tomorrow begins the musical portion, and I will not get to see Bruce Springsteen.

We missed Nathan this year as we were a sick house, and in no condition to get the house prepped, even had I not worried about hacking a lung all over him.  From watching him on Facebook, it looks like he had another great few days of coverage of the Film portion.

Some other friends from Seattle (if you knew me back in The Day, you might know them) showed up.  The My, Bryan M and their two bandmates.  We grabbed a meal with them and then they came to my office this week at work just to see me and see what I'm up to, which cracked me up.  Unfortunately I still haven't felt well enough to go out to any of their showcase shows.


I just re-read A Princess of Mars and am starting Gods of Mars, the second John Carter book by Edgar Rice Burroughs.  I'd like to read at least the first three novels (especially as they came in a handy, single volume from Simon & Shuster for a really reasonable price).  Meanwhile, I decided to countermeasure that by giving 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke a listen as an audio book during my commute.

Yes, I've seen the movie a half-dozen times, but I'd always heard such good things about the book, and I wasn't ready to jump right into Rendevous with Rama.  If I like 2001, I will add that one to my bucket list.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Thanks to Randy!

The Amazing Rando, our own RandyT, sent me a surprise package in the mail.  No idea what inspired this outpouring of generosity, but with two Jill Thompson books and a vintage Planet of the Apes book, Randy wins the week for being my favorite person with whom I do not share a house or who is not related to me in some way.

Way to go, Rando!

 Step it up, Jim.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Signal Watch Watches: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Anyone who brings up the Planet of the Apes franchise around me is going to regret that slip of the tongue. I love the Apes. I love not just the premise of Cheston landing on a strange planet where Apes evolved and man did not (ahem, SPOILERS) but the twist ending that lets you know this was a Rod Serling Joint.

I love that there are four more Apes movies of varying quality with a bizarre and twisted time-travel logic to them. I love Roddy McDowell as Cornelius and Caesar, and Kim Hunter as Zira. I love Cheston as Cheston on a planet full of intelligent Apes. I love the fact that Beneath the Planet of the Apes stars James Franciscus, who is sort of a mini-Cheston AND Cheston.

I'm not old enough to have participated in the Apes phenomenon the first time around, and while I watched the movies as a kid (and liked them), it was in college that I became obsessed. Like all good sci-fi, it was a terrific inversion of our world and our way of looking at our fellow beings.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

new "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" footage looks promising

I can't help but wonder - can movie audiences deal with a movie that is science fiction but not necessarily an action movie?

This clip looks very promising when you consider the themes of the Planet of the Apes movies.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

New "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" trailer

There's a new trailer for Rise of the Planet of the Apes that echoes quite a bit from the turn taken in the 3rd Apes film of the original series where we came to understand how and why the Apes rose and that man wasn't exactly innocent in the scenario. Sure, they've drastically changed the continuity of the films, but this still looks interesting.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

By the way, there's a Planet of the Apes comic out, and its really pretty good

In the midst of all this Planet of the Apes movie hullabaloo, I'd be remiss if I did not mention the current Planet of the Apes comic (from Boom!) which saw its second issue released last week. 

I can almost hear the Jerry Goldsmith music in my head
The two names on the cover are Daryl Gregory (writer) and Carlos Magno (artist), and I tip my hat to both.  I'm not overly familiar with either person's work, but both obviously referenced the heck out of the Apes movies, but set the comic in a period not covered in the movie series explicitly.  Doing some math, the suggestion is that this story occurs shortly after the framing sequence of Battle for the Planet of the Apes, or roughly 600 years after the main action in Battle

In just two short issues, Gregory has managed to frame his world within the grand scope of the Apes movies, set up multiple characters, the political situation, and reference the transitions occurring that would need to occur for the state of things between (chronologically) Battle and Planet of the Apes.  I'm impressed.

Artist Magno's style fits the material very well, with the rough-hewn world of the Apes and Humans pulling up a new civilization with hints of the old.  His faces are pretty great, and hew well to the style of the Ape makeup from the movies but using the freedom given to him by the pen to get anatmoy up to a grander scale on gorillas, etc...

I confess to some confusion at the... uh... very human anatomy of chimpanzee Alaya, but what I had dismissed as a Ren-Faire style to her dress actually makes quite a bit of sense after watching multiple hours worth of Apes movies.

Anyhow, this can't be a full recommendation as this is only the second issue, but I'm enjoying the series thus far.  Other Apes fans (even non-comic readers) should check it out.  Its a great bit of expansion on the film series and I really like Daryl Gregory's writing.

5 Planet of the Apes Movies in about 9 hours

Well, goodness.

What can you say about the Planet of the Apes Pentilogy that hasn't already been said?

I love these flicks, enough so that in 2001-ish, Target had the original Planet of the Apes for sale on DVD on a big display with the Statue of Liberty and everything, and I caused a pretty serious ruckus in the video department when I re-enacted this scene from the original POTA.

Like Nova, Jamie remained silent.

SO, this morning I arrived at the Alamo Ritz at 9:35 this morning to see Planet of the Apes unspool in glorious 35mm on the big, big screen.  And all of its 4 sequels.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

So on Sunday I'm watching, like, 10 hours worth of Apes movies

A while back I mentioned that The Alamo Drafthouse is having an all-day Planet of the Apes Movie Marathon.  Man, no, I don't know what is wrong with me, but whatever it is, Simon's got it, too, because we're spending all day at The Alamo Ritz taking in 5 (count 'em!  FIVE) Planet of the Planet of the Apes movies.

I've never actually done a movie marathon in this manner.  Usually watching two movies is a row is a bit taxing, and I recall being utterly worn out at the end of my "Let's watch the first two Lord of the Rings movies, and then go see Return of the King in the theater!" brainstorm.  Of course, all that LOTR's was actually more movie than a POTA marathon as we watched those extended, 4 hour versions on DVD.

That said, I am aware:  Its just so much damn Apes.

I like to think, however, that if anyone is man enough to just sit there for 10 hours in the dark eating pizza and slowly getting drunk starting at 10:00 AM and then slowly getting sober so he can get home, I AM THAT MAN.

And I am aware that this is sort of a stupid thing to do.  So, I am also trying to think of what I can do to tip the cosmic scales a bit back into balance.  More on that after Ape Weekend gives me time to ponder my karmic accounting.  

Friday, May 6, 2011

Oh my God, The Alamo is doing a POTA Marathon!

A while back I announced my intention to host my own Planet of the Apes Marathon prior to the release of the new POTA movie.

Apparently, the stars have aligned and The Alamo Drafthouse is planning a spectacular Planet of the Apes Day-Long Marathon.  If you aren't following the Bad-Ass Digest, you're kind of making a mistake.  But that's where I heard about this shindig.  

So, Jamie, sounds like May 29th you'll need to recruit someone else to entertain you.  I'm looking at the opportunity for an absolutely amazing Day of the Apes!

only 2 movies of the 5 star Cheston, because only 2 could handle the Cheston-ness

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I really don't know how I CAN'T go see the new "Apes" movie

My Apes obsession crescendoed in the days prior to any blogging or social media. Circa 1998 - 2001, I was all about Planet of the Apes and its sequels. Somewhere, I still have a Charlton Heston action figure and 12" dolls of Cornelius and Dr. Zaius.  Now that I think on it, once, when Jamie was in the hospital, I left her there to go catch a screening of POTA at the original location of the Alamo (with her permission).

My favorite of the series, of course, was the original, which Tim Burton remade into a mess of a surprisingly boring film about 10 years ago. My second favorite was always Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, in which you learn about the early days of the ape revolt, which had been hinted at in the previous films.  Its a sort of cautionary tale/ leninist fantasy of the beleagured apes rising up and striking back at their tormentors (us a-hole humans) who have basically been treating apes as slave labor in the context of the film.

@#$% is about to get real, yo
The trailer above is quite different from Conquest, so its a new story that seems to give a faux-scientific plausible explanation for how the ape revolt could have ever happened. In some ways, its a bit like introducing midichlorians, but after the goofy mutants of Beneath the Planet of the Apes, I'm not sure the franchise maintained the same credibility with even the fans that Star Wars carried for so long.

Everyone who comes to Planet of the Apes has a different perspective,  because (a) its not a series built on a cheery proposition and (b) my own wife just gets creeped out by the make-up, so she won't watch the films even when I can prove that Kim Hunter as Zira is just awesome (she appears in the first 3 Apes films).

see!  even Cheston loves Zira.  Maybe too much.
As a kid, I remember watching the Apes movies when WGN or our local UHF station would have "Ape Week" (5 Apes movies in 5 nights.  It was as good as "Godzilla Week".  Man, UHF ruled.), but unlike Tron or Star Wars I do remember having to work pretty hard to grok the Apes movies.  In a lot of ways, the social commentary and criticism of the movies that I thought pretty clever in 1998 just wasn't apparent to me as a kid.  But, you know, apes.  You had to watch.

The original novel of Planet of the Apes is actually quite a bit different from the 1960's version of the movie, and vastly different from the Mark Wahlberg-starring version, although there's a bit of the "suprise ending" in all three.   Its worth noting that Rod Serling, Mr. Twilight Zone himself was part of the brains behind the movie of Planet of the Apes (1968), which makes total sense if you've seen the movie. 

Anyhow, I'm up for an Apes movie.  This looks properly ridiculous.