Movies

July 11, 2014

Watching Every Planet of the Apes in One Sitting

What reads like the diary of an insane person, I recorded my experience watching every Planet of the Apes movies, minus the Franco reboot in one sitting.  So for no reason at all, well for two reasons I have decided to watch every old Planet of the Apes movies minus the Franco reboot, and write about it while I do.  I’ve always wanted to marathon a series, and with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes opening Friday, and the fact that I brought the six movies for under $25, felt like the perfect time for an Ape-A-Thon.  Plus, I’ve never seen the four old-school sequels.  Make that three reasons for the marathon.  Anyways, below is how my night played out, often providing little to no detail about the movie, and more what i was eating to stay alive during my experience.  The timetable is laid out, if it doesn’t make sense, skip it and move on (I just watched 11 hours of Planet of the Apes movies, I’m entitled to not make sense after a certain point).  If you want to skip the entire 1,700 word layout, a video of the experience is linked below.

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7:00 p.m.Planet of the Apes (1968) Directed by Franklin J. Schaffner (Patton, Papillon, Welcome Home).

And so it begins.  Five classic Planet of the Apes movies, and even Tim Buton’s 2001 version in one sitting.  I’m looking at like 12 hours of Ape entertainment, having only ever seen Burton’s and of course the original, which I begin with in my quest into the universe of the apes.   It’s only 7:00 and I’m pretty tired, could be a long night.  Here we go.

I really liked the way this original sets up the mystery.  We’re stuck with three stranded astronauts, George Taylor (Charlton Heston), John Landon (Robert Gunner), and Dodge (Jeff Burton), on a unknown planet and an unknown time, they believe 2,000 years have passed.  Heston’s Taylor is cynical, and thinks there is a better species out there than man…

The apes make their first appearance about 25 minutes in, and this is when things change.  Humans are captured, experimented on, and used as we use apes in our society.  Taylor finds himself by himself, and with the help of a couple apes, attempt to escape their prison and head for their unexplored “forbidden zone”, an area mentioned as dangerous in the sacred scrolls, which the apes follow to the T.

 8:00 p.m.- Took a quick break to eat some dinner, I’m 45 minutes into the movie, and Taylor (Heston) still hasn’t regained his voice.  He’s unable to talk, and the apes don’t believe he’s intelligent.  Roddy McDowall stars as Cornelius, who is an archeologist and historian.  Cornelius is the fiancé to Dr. Zira, animal and psychologist and veterinarian, and is the only ape to stand up for the inferior man.

Co-scripted by Rod Serling, The Planet of the Apes feels like a an episode of the Twilight Zone.  Three astronauts crash land, find themselves in a world where up is down and everything they know is backwards, social issues of the times brought to the viewers in the form of sci-fi (but truly represent the time when the film or in the other case, episodes aired), and of course, there is the shocking reveal at the end.

Faith vs. science, scrolls/bibles coverup an unknown history, when we think we know exactly the timetable of a forgotten history.

Watching Every Planet of the Apes in One Sitting still feels like a great idea (stupid sure, but why not?).

tumblr_lnpvakQLf41qkcj94o1_12809:15 p.m.- Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) Directed by Ted Post (Magnum Force).

I’m slightly off schedule with my dinner interruption, but luckily every progress entry gets shorter by the minute.  This sequel has a runtime of 95 minutes, so the overlap of time should be made up in due time.

I’m also excited to dee where the series goes.  It’s crazy to think, but I’ve never watched the four sequels, but Iv’e seen every Rocky like 30 times.

We start with another crash landing, and Nova (the woman who rode off with Heston in the original) stumbles on the recently crashed ship.  The film cuts to what happened to Nova and Taylor, with another appearance by Charlton Heston.

Nova is sent to find Zira.

We’re introduced to the Ape military, which are made up of gorillas.

Young ant-war peace activists are amongst the apes.  We’re begining to see more of their civilization.

10:30-About 20 minutes to go on Beneath.

Other than some quick notes, I’m abandoning explaining specific plot details.  I’m beyond the point of no return, and still have a lot of Ape to endure, so i need to pace myself.

Finally seeing more of the human artifacts remaining on earth, as well as a group of people that communicate telepathically, and are there soley to guard a nuclear missile, but it turns out they’re some alien or mutant race.

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(Lord Vader?.. I didn’t see this coming)

Brent finally finds Taylor at the mutants place, where they are psychologically pinned against each other in a fight.  The film ends with the end of the world, and I also didn’t see that coming.

escape-from-the-planet-of-the-apes111:00- Escape From the Planet of the Apes– Directed by Don Taylor (Damien: The Omen II).

It looks like Apes are visiting our current planet this time around, after the second film blew up the world.  But man will of course treat the visiting Apes better than the apes received Taylor and Brent.

The camp is definitely turned up, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Traveling back in time, Cornelius and Zira end up back on earth 2,000 before the events of the originals.

The humans greet the apes well, and they become celebrities.  While I can tell the quality of the movies deteriorate, I like them more.  Escape so far is pretty funny.  Although this might get old quick.

escape-from-the-planet-of-the-apes-apes110:45– 40 minutes into the Escape.

Snack, Turkey sandwich and a bag of Cheese curls.

11:48- Apes are introduced to alcohol, first drunk monkey of the series.  Meanwhile, our governmental elite are nervous about our new celebs.

12:00– 5 Hours IN.

While still enjoying my experience, I feel the actual act of watching the movies have become more important than talking about the actual movies.

Man destroys man, apes do not destroy apes.

Apes progressed from pets to superiors in two centuries, then turned on their owners after 3 more centuries.  Eh, theres some more plot.

Apes are hunted and contained to prevent the future ape takeover.  They don’t want Zira’s baby to be born.  Oh yeah, Zira is pregnant, and Iguess what eventually leads to the Ape takeover in the future.

The action in this one was weak.  While the beginning was initially funny, like anyone could have predicted, it got old.  Lets see what one of my favorite childhood directors will do with the franchise.

I turn my Playstation off for 10 minutes to let it cool-down.

ae69bba879e70e444d891a1eede0cde412:55- Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes (2001).

Crack my third 12 oz. Mt Dew of the day for a caffeine boost.

After an underwhelming third entry, I need a change of pace, so I decide to pop in Burton’s version.  We’ll see, I remember it’s not very good (this is the point in Tim’s career where things begin to decline (at least in my opinion)).

The year is 2029, and Mark Wahlberg is still the man.  Besides that, one thing I finally realized is the new iteration of the apes series has completely abandoned the space/time-travel elements, and make them feel that much more grounded.  However, there is something fun about these goofy ape movies that have been a part of pop-culture for almost 50 years.

1:04 a.m.– I can’t believe I’ve been sitting here watching Planet of the Apes for six hours.  Five more hours to go. Over and out.

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There are a lot of fantastic actors, hidden under their prosthetics in this movie including Tim Roth, Helena Bonham Carter, Paul Giamatti, and the great Michael Clark Duncan.  RIP.

1:41 a.m.– Re-fuel, banana, pop-tart, Herr’s Ripples.  Good.  Movies okay.  A handful of Goldfish to wash it down.

2:00 a.m.– Fourth bottle of water down, keeping hydrated.

Three things to make your Ape-A-Thon (title pending) better than mine.

1. Other people (you have nobody to joke with about how bad these movies are).

2. Alcohol (obvious reasons).

3.  If you follow the first two steps, you won’t seem like a crazy person.

2:50 a.m.– Trip to WaWa and give the Playstation a chance to fully cool down.

3:09 a.m.– Back from WaWa with two 1 liter Fiji waters, and a soft pretzel.  Back to business.

conquest-of-the-planet-of-the-apes-original-uk-quad-1972--9416-pConquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972).  Directed by J. Lee Thompson (Death Wish 4: The Crackdown).

Back into the world of the original series.  We’re in 1991 and apes have been pretty much turned into slaves.  There is only one known talking ape, son of Cornelius and Zira.

After a decease wiped out all the cats and dogs, humans are left with no pets, which lead them to use apes a pets.

Armondo (Ricardo Montalbán) has raised Caesar (Roddy McDowall) from childhood, after his parents were gunned down in Escape, and the government expects that he’s out there, and they’re scared.  So Armando must keep Caesar on a short leash, and not stand out in public.

But Caesar dives right in, sold at auction, and goes undercover to discover… I’m actually not sure.  Will report back.

The set looks like something out of Stanley Kubrick’s London in A Clockwork Orange, or my alma mater UMASS Boston.

CONQUEST OF THE PLANET OF THE APES3:52 a.m.- Oh yeah okay, Caesar is there to start a revolution.

4:01 a.m.– Nine hours in and still rolling.

Caesar rallies the troops, and they revolt against the humans.  You can see elements of all these classic movies in Matt Reeves’ Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

4:32 a.m.- Caesar’s kind of a dick.

MPW-517474:45 a.m.Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973).  Directed again by  J. Lee Thompson (Death Wish 4: The Crackdown).

5:00 a.m.- The ape/movie delirium is kicking in.  I’ve had enough apes

5:45 a.m.-  I feel like we’ve come a long way since the series began, and the films have progressively gotten worse.  It’s been fun, but id be hard pressed to re-watch any of these movies again anytime soon, minus the original which holds up.

I’m going to lay down and finish the last thirty minutes, I’ll finish in the morning.  Phew, what a night.

1:30 p.m.– The next day.

I awake the next, muscles sore, body tense, my Ape-A-thon hangover has bled into today.   Yesterday may have been a mistake, but all I did was watch movies.

Here’s the video evidence.

Oh and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes opens today July 11th.

 



About the Author

Peter Towe
Peter Towe
A graduate of UMASS Boston, I have successfully put off getting a "real" job, and continue to watch, produce, review, and obsess over movies. I lived in Boston while I completed my degree, and now live in Chicago trying the improv thing.




 
 

 

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