Freak Out In A Moonage Daydream

When we’re asleep, we can do almost anything.   

spiralnature

“Is that all we see or seem just a dream within a dream?” – Edgar Allan Poe.

Whatever the mind can conceive, so it is said, the mind will achieve. With special visual effects achieving new heights on screen due to the amazing advances in digital technology, the astonishing – and deadly – images of what can be conjured from the oneiric zone are formulating with increasing style and complexity. This subject had to be tackled here at some point.

The greatest minds in Classic Science Fiction have conceived some of the most stunning literary visions in the genre, and the movies have tried, with varying degrees of success, to translate those visions to the big screen. Yet when the whole movie derives its entire structure from the content of dreams (and dreams within dreams) as the two diverse, yet inextricably linked, examples included here show, SF can explore neuroscientific possibilities.

Naturally, when rummaging around to find those movies most suitable for this Post, the first classic scenes that sprang to mind emanate from horror movies. This should come as no surprise; our deepest and darkest fears manifest themselves through the most common random creations of the subconscious brain: nightmares.

inceptiondreamscape

“What is the most resilient parasite? Bacteria? A virus? An idea. Resilient… highly contagious. Once an idea has taken hold of the brain it’s almost impossible to eradicate” – Cobb.

While we eagerly await Chris Nolan’s Interstellar later this year, his complex dream-invading noir opus: Inception (2010) deserves scrutiny here. It deals with planting an idea in someone else’s mind, rather than stealing them, which is the specialist skill of the main character: Cobb, played by the unlikely, yet rewarding, choice of Leonardo di Caprio.

While this movie should be celebrated for presenting a more cerebral adventure, for once the incorporation of CGI here is well utilised, and represents the benefits to be gained from them in modern movie-making. Deservedly praised for its technical achievements, there are some particularly mesmerising imagery on offer. As one reviewer aptly put it, Inception is: “the film by which to measure the density of all others.”

This instantly brought to mind that little SF thriller: Dreamscape (1984) which quite similarly brought in the talents of a young psychic who could break into other peoples dreams. The plot was very interesting: tormented by nightmares, the US President agrees to let Alex Gardner (played by the then seemingly ubiquitous Dennis Quaid) enter his mind and sort out the problem from within. The Defense Secretary sends a psychic loon to assassinate the President and his protector within the “dreamscape”.

Technically, some may say that its special effects have not stood the test of time, but then, for the early 80s – and considering its criminally undervalued status – they retain a charm all of their own. The script is pretty snappy too.

astro

“Psychotherapists… have developed innovative approaches to dreams beyond mere interpretation. These are grounded in the implicit assumption that waiting for a patient to produce a dream makes as much sense as keeping a computer off until it decides to turn itself on” – Harvey Greenberg.   

Is there room here for that modern classic: The Matrix (1999)? Perhaps, its main protagonists enter the titular system via sleep mode; and intriguingly, there is a central character named Morpheus – in Greek mythologyMorpheus was the God of Dreams who could manifest himself in the dreams of kings as a messenger of the Olympian gods.

However, the emphasis in these bleak, dystopian proceedings is on simulation – there is no inherent oneiric activity. Not to worry, there will be an excuse to feature this dazzling mix of combat, technology and philosophy in a future Post.

Where do we go when we dream? Ha, the many nights spent lying awake (or – more likely – propped up against the computer screen) trying to ponder that one out…

No prizes for working out whether androids do dream of electric sheep, but some Comments would be very much appreciated before you drift away to the Land of Nod.

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Sweet dreams…

 

 

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The Expandables: The Age Of The Franchise

Intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action and some mild language

attack of th sequels

“Sequels are like safety nets for studios and investors; they consistently deliver the most potent box-office punch” – Jeff Bock.

In a galaxy too close for comfort, it seems like too many people are getting overexcited about the looming threat of Star Wars Episode VII. Apart from subjecting impressionable younglings to the bamboozlement of Roman numerals, how will popular culture cope? Moreover, what good will it do for the already franchise-infested movie industry?

Yes, place the emphasis on industry – it really has got to the stage where movie-making has become a bustling business where umpteen gazillions of dollars are pumped into the objective of making bigger and better sequels – using the same characters (and actors), fights/car chases/Stan Lee cameos (tick appropriate box), effects, gimmicks and humour to avoid taking any creative risks. As evidenced by this year’s crop of X-Men, Twansfoamers (no, altering the spelling doesn’t ease the pain) and Planet of the Apps (ha!) sequels of sequels assuredly retain the financial stability of the modern movie-making madhouse.

Traditionally, cinema-goers have been perturbed by what came to be labelled: “sequelitis,” and movie critics habitually scoffed at them, decrying them as mere substitutes for creativity and originality. Look out: the new brand of sequels are the harbingers of that commodity of ingenuity; instead of railing against them, we should embrace them.

Here’s how – and why…

winter soldier

“We are not really talking about sequels any more. We are talking about films that are conceived of as longer plays than one film” – David Hancock, Screen Digest.  

Essentially, movies are now concocted within a certain franchise template, specifically designed to outperform its predecessors. Plus, a particular narrative is dispersed throughout numerous instalments, and having familiar faces and safe-bet material saves a fortune in carving out new publicity strategies. Accept it: gone are the days when sequels seemed tagged on primarily to snap up some more dosh, and lacked the surprise and originality of their predecessor. Now continuity is the key – production of the official follow-up can start even before the original has been released!

Just take Captain America as a prime example. Captain America: The First Avenger was a really good film; yet earlier this year: Captain America: The Winter Soldier accumulated a mighty $715 million dollars because it set out (rather skilfully, thankfully) to expand and vastly improve its material. Naturally enough, no prizes for guessing that Cap 3 is sure to be with us shortly…

Just as Guardians of the Galaxy can be rightly celebrated as the crowning triumph of the summer, offering a simple fun formula of material not used heretofore, but then, before you can nab an Infinity Stone, the rush of fizzy refreshing originality is swiped aside momentarily by the slightly unnerving inevitability of the sequel. You saw the message at the end: they will return. This came as no surprise to me. It was preordained, betcha.

Yet there was also the probability of the movie turning out to be the next (ahem) Howard The Duck… and that’s the point.

Nobody (generally) likes to take risks in Hollywood.

Business is business…

The original can be really cool!
The original can be really cool!

eddie joneseddie joneseddie jones

^ but make it again… and again… without changing key elements, it becomes boring and nobody will want to watch any more…

 

“Sigourney and I have a long creative history, dating back to 1985 when we made Aliens. We’re good friends who’ve always worked well together, so it just feels right that she’s coming back for the Avatar sequels” – James Cameron.  

No one ever dies in science fiction – this should not take anyone aback. Despite the departure of Grace Augustine from that $2.7 billion behemoth of 2009, fan-fave Sigourney Weaver confirms that she will feature in ALL THREE sequels(!) Her other great character: Ripley, was cloned.

Even Spock – who sacrificed himself at the end of the best Star Trek movie – was, by some absolutely ludicrous plot-device, brought back to ruin the next “grand” episode of the saga. And… hey! As a perennial favourite, it was only a matter of time before the reboot came along… swiftly  followed by the (some may say) superior sequel…

This system is not unique to the science fiction/fantasy genre but can be applied just as easily to action thrillers and feature-length animated movies too. It would be a futile gesture to call for a boycott against such trash as Transformers, for it has already been decreed that this wretched franchise will lumber on, regardless of what serious cinema-goers want to see.

Bradscribe understands the art of writing a good follow-up, and like all the best-loved franchises, this Post will have…

to be continued...

Who knows, it’ll probably be bigger and better than this one!

Cheers!

 

Venus Ascending: Which SF Heroines Should Return?

Posted: 17 August 2014

ripley

“I’m no Ripley. I had doubts that I could play her as strongly as she had to be played, but I must say that it was fun exploring that side of myself. Women don’t get to do that very often” – Sigourney Weaver.  

In th the far reaches of the universe, “where no one in their right mind would go,” undeniably the strongest female character in SF – Warrant Officer Ellen Ripley – will return for one last time, insists Sigourney Weaver, the actress who portrayed her so memorably across four different movies. She believes that one last story about this bold and daring character deserves to be told, reiterating that by no means should it be set on Earth.  

Considering how Ripley was killed off at the end of dreary Alien 3, and its lacklustre follow-up: Alien Resurrection did not add anything consequential to this waning franchise, the prospect of having the legacy of this great Power Loader-operating and flame-throwing heroine tarnished further does not sound so appealling.

And yet there are numerous strong and feisty females in SF, who – despite the genre for decades being predominantly the reserve of young white males – have thrived regardless and won their own fanbases. Even my own sciency-fickety scribblings are brimming with stern and headstrong women because – let’s face it – they were the ones always rejecting me in real life.  

This Post will explore – in this bland and bloated age of sequels, prequels and reboots – which SF heroines of yesteryear should be brought back to the big screen… plus those who shouldn’t.

Leialeia bespinleia wicket

“Fifty-seven years ago I did his little Star Wars film… George is a sadist, but… wearing a metal bikini chained to a giant slug… I keep coming back for more” – Carrie Fisher.  

In December 2015, Princess Leia will return – whether we like it or not. Sure, the original trilogy will always be fondly remembered, but those prequels were an abomination which can never be expunged, let alone forgiven.

Of course there is some curiosity as to what it would be like to have her back, alongside Han and Luke, but really…. it should all have ended back in 1983. So it is with a very heavy heart that this forthcoming trilogy will be regarded with an inevitable and uneasy sense of dread.   

patricia neal

“Gort… Klaatu Barada Nikto” – Helen Benson.

Patricia Neal, as Helen Benson in Day The Earth Stood Still (1951) provided a strong and striking performance at a time when actresses in B-movies of that era were usually “required” to do no more than scream at any frightful thing that lumbered into view (usually from behind.) She was charged with saving the Earth from Gort, should anything happen to Klaatu (Michael Reeve).

Okay, so she did yell and carry out the ubiquitous horror cliche of stumbling over a deceptively flat piece of terra firma at a crucial stage during the suspense, but otherwise she was a remarkably confident woman – thank goodness – at the right time. She is certainly the sort of determined individual to have in the next Earth-threatening drama.

Hang on! Only just remembered!

A monumentally useless remake popped up in 2008 featuring Jennifer Connelly as Helen Benson. This affront to cultural sensibilities just serves to remind us that that heresy can be avoided if you have a decent script – not to mention a talented leading lady…

flash n daledale arden

“I’m a New York City girl. Things are a little too quiet around here for me!” – Dale Arden.

Flash Gordon was one of the great influences of my early years, with the amazing Alex Raymond strip and the Universal serials from the 1930s, not to mention the immensely enjoyable (and endlessly quotable) 1980 feature film, but throughout his manic meddling on Mongo,  he wouldn’t have got far without the doughty Dale Arden.

Is it time for a Flash reboot? Hell yeah!

But this time, there would be a tremendous opportunity to enhance the strong elements of Dale’s character and give her a hard-edged and courageous 21st century makeover.

rachelrachel 2

“Have you ever retired a human by mistake?” – Rachael.

Whatever happened to Sean Young?

As Rachael the replicant in Blade Runner (1982), her soft demeanour provided a tender contrast to the other two violent artificial femmes.   Somehow, in this perpetually dark and soggy dystopia of 2019, she brought an incongruous, yet oddly affecting, 1940s look to the film.

It’s too bad she won’t live, said Gaff, the origami guy in the fedora, yet it would have been so intriguing to see more of her. As rumours of a sequel gather pace, it is alarming to learn that Rachael somehow won’t have a part in it…

The number of times (mis)spent sitting through dull and uninspired SF movies and you wish someone as stylish as her could just glide in and brighten up proceedings…

…but then again, who does?  

 

Star-Lord and Laser-Brain: The Phenomenon of the SF Hero

Devised: 8 & 11 August; Revised: 12 August 2014. Uh, everything’s under control. Situation normal.

prattHAN-SOLO

^ Hmmm, two galaxies appear to be colliding with each other here…

 

“[What we seek in space] is not knowledge, but wonder, beauty, romance, novelty – and above all, adventure”                                  – Arthur C Clarke.  

Somewhere in the far cosmos, a space rogue named Peter Quill aka Star-Lord leads the Guardians of the Galaxy – an unknown and untried band of misfits against the threat of Ronan the Accuser. With a most urgent task thrust upon him, he had to prove his worth as… a hero. After too-long-a-wait, the SF Hero is back on the Big Screen where he belongs.

One of the most popular staples in the science fiction canon, it was only a matter of time before this Blogger – who has created several such far-out heroes throughout the course of his fascinating and frustrating forays into fantastic fiction – weighed in with what the position entailed. In order to concoct the archetypal galactic hero, a code of certain characteristics needs to be adhered to:

  • They must immediately grab the viewer’s attention, either through badass dialogue or some killer moves.
  • They must be dressed in the sort of garb that you would not feel sheepish to don for some heaving comic-con.
  • And they must have ultracool spaceships.
  • And rad blasters.
  • And maybe a furry anthropomorphic accomplice to interact with, especially if the scriptwriter has lost his/her flow in some seedy bar somewhere…
  • Oh, and an Awesome Mix tape ought to be obligatory (you younglings did ask your parents what cassettes were? Sweet!) Moving on…

quill orbstar-lord imagesKC4XP9H4

^ Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord – didn’t take him long to become popular…

 

“Traditionally, SF heroes solved problems by application of intelligence and scientific knowledge. These days you can substitute lasers for scientific knowledge. Or swords” – How To Write a Generic SF Novel.    

Sure, the title: Guardians of the Galaxy didn’t ring any bells, but that space rogue looked familiar…

The name: Star-Lord brought a bright spark of recognition as – once upon a time – he may have occupied my long-gone copious comic-munching days. Peter Quill made his first appearance as Star-Lord in Marvel Previews No. 4 in 1976, but it’s more than likely that a short-lived UK weekly comic in the early 80s by the name of Future Tense is where our paths met, so to speak.      

Reasonably intelligent, this “Star-Lord” seems inclined to just drift around the galaxy, until snatching an orb of great significance changes his fate entirelyIn the comics he looked distinctive, but here in the movie he sports some groovy get-up and a not-so-dorky helmet; and his ship: the Milano has a certain flair about it.

Naturally, a film as fun and frothy as this does not dwell on complexities such as plot and characterization, so his background story is still to unfold. The twist (revealed towards the end of the movie) that Quill is only half-human presents the promising prospect of some intriguing plot developments for the inevitable sequel (provided the right material is handled properly!)

XXX GUARDIANS-GALAXY-MOV-JY-0693.JPG A ENTmillennium falcon

^ Which do you prefer: the Milano, or the Milliennium Falcon?

 

“Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid” – Han Solo.

Chris Pratt was entertaining as Peter Quill/Star-Lord, but he trails umpteen parsecs behind the definitive space hero –ultimately, Han Solo has become THE iconic figure of SF cinema and deservedly so.

What makes his character so enduring? For one thing, he’s cool, bad… and mad enough to chase a bunch of stormtroopers through their own space station, because – as every seven year old will tell you – a hero gains instant respect if he prefers a straight fight to “all this sneaking around.” He only takes orders from one person (himself) even if he is half-witted.

And never tell him the odds…

Much of this instant appeal was obviously due to the charm and laconic swagger which then-jobbing-joiner Harrison Ford brought to the role. Plus, Han Solo had the Millennium Falcon – one of the most awesome spaceships of all time… and a Walking Carpet as First Mate.

There are certain similarities between these two overwhelmingly popular characters: Star-Lord had to contend with a Raccoon with a penchant for prosthetic legs, and Han had a Wookie with a penchant for pulling peoples arms out of their sockets (only if they lose); while Han had no plan (to rescue the Princess), at least Star-Lord pretended to have a plan (or at least part of one), and so on. And so on…

Ah! but are they worthy?

Well, on paper they sound too dodgy: one’s a thief, the other’s a smuggler. Not so honourable. So why root for them?

They are the antithesis of the more conventional space adventurers such as Flash Gordon (sporting hero) and Buck Rogers (astronaut) but, regardless of background, against all odds, they managed, nevertheless, to (help their friends) save their respective galaxy, defeat the bad guys and, perhaps, get the girl, ultimately ensuring their place in the highest echelons of SF stardom i.e. they would never, ever, get killed off…

star-lord gunhan blaster

Now, who’s scruffy-lookin’?

 

 

The Life and Crimes of Rocket Raccoon! (and 4 Other Guardians)

Posted: 5 August 2014

Excuse me, but how cool is this?
Excuse me, but how cool is this?

“I got one plan, and that plan requires a frickin’ quarnex battery, so FIGURE IT OUT!” – Rocket Raccoon.

If it wasn’t for Rocket Raccoon, the latest Marvel thrill-fest would not have been so eagerly anticipated these last few months. The waiting is over: Guardians of The Galaxy is a thoroughly enjoyable outer space adventure, based on a comic book which – remarkablyabsolutely nobody had heard of before.

This movie has had the most successful Opening Night this year, raking in a well-deserved million dollar haul; and why? The answer is blindingly obvious: it’s fun! It’s enjoyable! But, most crucially, because it’s fresh and pristine material. And not a sequel. Of a remake. It is that quintessential, experimental, let’s-give-it-a-go, got-nuthin-to-lose attitude so sorely lacking in movie-making during this age of bland formulae and turgid franchises which is creating such a giddy and reassuring buzz. Indeed, this refreshing approach has enticed wary, yet curious, crowds back into the popcorn-munching parlours again.

How much of this joyful escapism relied on the wit and charm of this feisty lil furball?

Let’s face it: much of this weekend’s Biggest Opening of the Year is due to its smallest star. This character has intrigued me ever since first laying eyes on the conceptual art of this rapscallion raccoon (earlier this year); having watched all the trailers, excited anticipation has been brewing nicely.

As my regular Followers will well know, the majority of latest releases are caught in-flight. However, this one just had to be watched on terra firma, braving the inevitable migraine to experience it in glorious 3D as well, half-expecting to only enjoy Rocket and become disenchanted as the rest of the film collapsed into noisy tosh and predictable juvenile shenanigans.

…How frickin’ lovely to be proved WRONG!!

RocketRaccoon-yeah

“Oh… yeah!!”

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^ Rocket Raccoon: from the movie, and from the comics.

“Movies like this are usually described in terms of popcorn but a better comparison would be Space Dust: it’s fun, wacky, explosive and bursting with artificial colours” – the guardian.com. 

Just who, exactly, is Rocket Raccoon?

This irreverent anthropomorphic raccoon made his comics debut in Marvel Preview No. 7 (Summer 1976), not appearing again until The Incredible Hulk No. 271 (May 1982). In 1985, he got his own 4-issue Limited Series, and later appeared in three issues of Sensational She-Hulk in 1992. Rocket teamed up with Star-Lord in his own limited series in 2007. The Guardians title would not arrive until 2008; he, and other Guardians, most recently appeared in Avengers Assemble (2012).

As Guardian of the Keystone Quadrant, he was Captain of the Rack’n’Ruin; on the planet Halfworld, Rocket (and other animals) had been genetically manipulated to work as caretakers of inmates of an insane asylum. At one point Rocket had teamed up with the Hulk (!) before befriending Peter Quill; he did serve as leader of the Guardians at one stage.

One online bio describes Rocket Raccoon as intelligent, an expert marksman and a master tactician. Most notably, the movie portrays him wielding a huge gun and, in one brilliantly entertaining scene, shutting off the oxygen supply outside the prison control tower commandeered by the Guardians. In addition, records show that he’s “wanted on over fifty charges of vehicular theft and escape from custody.”

Wasn’t looking forward to the prospect of Bradley Cooper voicing him (but then his name is Brad so feel compelled to let him off, ha!) Actually, he’s not at all bad!  

rocket poster

guardians-of-the-galaxy

“The Guardians are a group of oddballs, outcasts, and geeks. The movie is for anyone who ever felt cast aside, left out, or different. It’s for all of us who don’t belong. This movie belongs to you” – James Gunn.

Okay, what about the other characters?

Chris Pratt makes for a likeable space rogue – Star-Lord’s Awesome Mix tape is a splendid trait to add to his intergalactic capers; Mum certainly picked out some great numbers! Presumably he – like me – was transfixed by The Black Hole (1979) for he brandishes the same parallel-barrelled blasters wielded by that film’s droids. Admittedly, some of his lines do not work, and the proposed dance-off is just cringe-inducing.

Groot (“What the hell is that?”) is a great addition to the group, providing some of the film’s more wondrous and witty moments. (Does only 3 words make him a talking tree?)

Gamora (Zoe Saldana) is a green-skinned assassin, but her general annoyance (with everything) and unwillingness to comply (with her fellow Guardians) sadly did not endear herself to me. Oh, and she didn’t want to dance either, so that confirms it then. Poor Zoe, it would appear that her career has already been relegated to cinema-goers merely speculating what her next skin-colour will be…

Of the main characters, Drax The Destroyer is the only one whose name is familiar to this once-avid comic-hoarder. He featured in Thor #314 (Dec 1981): one of my most cherished morsels of Marvel history. Dave Bautista puts in a surprisingly above-average contribution, actually eliciting a few laughs here and there, but this Drax bears no resemblance at all.

Ronan-Mothership

The other characters, however, are not so well-defined.

Ronan the Accuser (heck, he even sounds cool,) had the look and potential to be a classy villain, but… he has been given no memorable lines – not even a sufficient background story; so when we see him he’s just moping about, sulking as if realising that only after blast-off, he’d forgotten to pack any lighting equipment for that ridiculously ultra-dark spaceship of his. Similarly, Nebula was so underused, you’re left wondering what was the point of having her there at all.

As for Thanos – he was all over Marvel Comics back in the day; you just couldn’t get away from him! In his brief cameo, he proved to be the only bad’un capable of inducing a much-appreciated sense of menace to these proceedings.

Rocket-Raccoon-and-Groot

rocket-art

One last – but poignant – observation:

Towards the end of the movie, Rocket sits alone, holding a twig, and bawling uncontrollably. Honestly, there were 20 pairs of eyes (Come on! Not bad for the only multiplex on the Gulf of Thailandthree hours drive south of Bangkok) all glistening with tears in the darkness – one of the most moving moments in a cinema this year…

Or any year for that matter…  

 

Having praised Rocket enough, let’s turn our attention to everyone’s Favourite Ent-of-the-Moment: Groot.

awesome mix vol.1

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“I guess I never really realised how much I did always love trees” – Vin Diesel.

On second thoughts, perhaps not. Brad’s been bloggin’ all evening – think it’s time to Log Off, chill and listen to that Awesome Mix tape…

Cheers!

Yawn of the Planet of the Apes

Human see Human do…

Behind-The-Scenes-of-Planet-of-The-Apes-e1352575443627

“And that completes my final report until we reach touchdown… You who are reading me now are a different breed – I hope a better one… But one more thing – if anybody’s listening, that is. Tell me… does man, that marvel of the universe, that glorious paradox who sent me to the stars, still make war against his brother?” – Taylor (Charlton Heston).    

Will we be quoting awesome lines from Dawn of the Planet of the Apes a half-century from now? As an admirer of the original Planet of the Apes (1968), mixed emotions greeted the coming of yet another instalment in the rebooted series.

The hi-def quality of the two most recent entries is far superior to the last (mediocre) two movies of the 70s, but does the appliance of sophisticated motion capture technology really enhance this material? Personally, the complex digital spectacle detracts from an intriguing plot. It’s as if it is compensating for average, or inadequate, scriptwriting…

No matter how competent and compelling this modern formula is viewed, it will never beat that all-time classic which first thrilled audiences 46 years ago.

chambers (1)planet-apes motion capture

^ Which do you prefer: the original make-up… or motion capture from the new reboot?

“I read the script, and agreed with the director [Franklin Schaffner] that the apes should not be made to look like hair-faced human beings… The concepts were too ambiguous – they lacked the strength of the animal face and personality. We needed the pleasantness… without being too grotesque” – John Chambers.

The 1968 original remains one of the outstanding gems of SF cinema, the screenplay co-written by Michael Wilson and Rod Serling is simply among the very best writing you will ever hear on film, while all the performances complement the material superbly; the make-up by Oscar-winning artist John Chambers is exceptional; the “music” – both tuneless and terrifying – superbly accentuates this nightmarish drama as it unfolds; and, of course, you must realise that it has the Best Ending. Of any movie. Ever.  

Unfortunately, its legacy has been diminished by the four inferior sequels which appeared between 1970-74. Charlton Heston only agreed to reprise his role in Beneath The Planet of the Apes (1970) if he was killed off, which he was… in the most bizarre of circumstances. By trying to explore the story from a different angle, it failed spectacularly.

Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1973) was a fine, if lightweight, entry into the series. It offered both Roddy MacDowell and Kim Hunter the potential to expand their roles, but sadly, the script failed to do them any favours. The poor concluding two movies effectively killed off the franchise.

roddy

“Ape versus human – and hawk versus dove… as in the last film, the CGI apes are very impressive, with next-level mannerisms in swaying, screeching, lunging and teeth-baring” – Peter Bradshaw.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) heralded a radical new look, released to favourable reviews. Now, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes has increased that look. Undoubtedly, it is a competent and commendable movie, but lacks the necessary sophisticated edge and shock value to warrant umpteen screenings. Yes, it is one of the more superior fare of the Summer season, but only as an extended showcase for the latest CGI developments – nothing more. 

Gary Oldman is always good to watch, but seems somehow out of place here. Of course, Andy Serkis has perfected this innovative art of modern visual fx, but does it suit this franchise? Call me a traditionalist – a compliment obligingly accepted – but you just can’t beat John Chambers’ original make-up wizardry. Besides, none of the performances in Dawn are on a par with those gawped at from 1968, and that script will NEVER be bettered.

With Dawn raking in $370 million worldwide, ensuring that Matt Reeves will direct a third Apes movie, this makes for slightly disconcerting news. Honestly, how much further can this franchise last? Mark my words: the downward spiral in quality witnessed in the 1970s will happen all over again. It will get to the point where the original will be REMADE, no doubt with the likes of Mark Wahlberg in the lead role (he types manically with vehement cynicism!) and- hey, wait a minute! Tim Burton already did so in 2001 – wow, just shows what a forgettable exercise that was…

kim-hunter-in-planet-of-the-apes-(1968)kim hunter

^ Kim Hunter as Dr Zira: one of the best performances in SF cinema you will ever see – she was unrecognisable under John Chambers’ make-up

 

“By the end of the make-up time, you believed that you were an ape. You’d look in the mirror and say: ‘By golly, that’s me!'” – Kim Hunter.

Any Post celebrating the Planet of the Apes series cannot be done without mentioning the amazing performance of Kim Hunter as Doctor Zira. Certainly, Roddy McDowall (as Cornelius), Maurice Evans (as Dr Zaius) and Charlton Heston (obviously!) put in extraordinarily good performances, but it’s Kim Hunter who grabs my attention on every viewing. Despite the gruelling three-and-a-half-hour make-up sessions, she quite rightly cited Planet of the Apes as one of the best roles of her career. And are there any good female roles in these last two films? No, of course not…  

 

Coming Next: Guardians of the Galaxy (‘cos nothing else matters, or compares, right now – right?)