What The Flux?: Brad’s Guide to the Future

Happy New Year! Hope you all have a Good One! Not too Heavy!

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“There’s that word again: ‘heavy.’ Why are things so heavy in the future? Is there a problem with the Earth’s gravitational pull?” – Dr Emmett L. Brown.   

1984 and 2001 are just two examples of years forever synonymous with visions of the future. As an integral part of SF, visual conceptions of future times are practically inevitable. What better way to start this new blogging year than seeing what lies ahead? Here are some of the futures we can look forward to… 

Naturally, we begin with:

2015: in the “Present Time” – Oct 21 to be exact. Marty McFly will travel from 1985 to sort his kids out. Apparently this year, we can get Home Energy Reactors, Jaws 17, self-drying jackets, hoverboards and flying cars. The latter will also play a major factor come:

November 2019: In permanently-dark Los Angeles, a group of Nexus 6 Replicants have to be hunted down by everyone’s fave Corellian smuggler. 

2022: Overpopulation and the inevitable food shortages mean that the deceased are reprocessed into green Ryvita. Order will be MAINTAINED by a gun-toting (fully-clad) Charlton Heston. 

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“You see how clever this part is? How it doesn’t require a shred of proof? Most paranoid delusions are intricate, but this is brilliant!” – Dr. Peter Silberman. 

2029: In the War of the Machines, skull-crusher tanks and heavily-armed cyborgs try to vanquish the last vestiges of the human race. A Terminator – inexplicably programmed to speak with an Austrian accent – is sent back to 1984 to terminate the resistance leader’s mother. And hey, Los Angeles is still dark (that’s permanance for you!)

2054: An officer at the Precrimes unit of Minority Report, as described by Philip K. Dick, is accused of a future murder. This has to be a monumental bureaucratic cock-up because that officer is none other than Tom Cruise! 

2077: Would u Adam-an’-Eve it? Tom frickin’ Cruise again! Only this time, the Cruiser is Jack Reacher Harper: one of the few remaining drone repairmen assigned to Earth. The movie’s called Oblivion; go figure…

2084: Mars has become colonised in Total Recall, yet-another Philip K. Dick scenario: “We can Remember It For You Wholesale.” Memory implants, Sharon Stone and an Austrian accent. Is there life on Mars? Well, there’s certainly no green Ryvita…

2087: The crew of the Nostromo have to respond to a distress signal from Planet LV426, but unleash a nasty, acid-for-blood Alien. 

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“Stop your grinnin’ and drop your linen!” – Private Hudson. 

2144: Officer Ellen Ripley, last survivor of the Nostromo, is discovered (after floating in space for 57 years). She becomes “Adviser” to a group of gung-ho Space Marines who get wiped out by a nest of Aliens. At least Mr. Jones (the cat) survived, so that’s nice. Or it could be:

2176: There is an ongoing debate as to precisely when these two films are set. In the Special Edition, a photo of Ripley’s daughter has a date: 2174 (two years previously), which implies that Alien would have to be set in 2119… right? But heck, how can you even think about the time when you have to contend with rampant chest-bursters and face-huggers?!… And it’s another SEVENTEEN DAYS until any rescue-ship arrives?! Game over, man! Game over!   

2150: The Dalek Invasion of Earth ensues. Luckily, Peter Cushing (because William Hartnell was not deemed acceptable to a US audience) and Bernard Cribbins save the Doctor’s favourite planet from the notorious pepper-pots. 

2154: The super-rich live on a space station, while the rest lead a monotonous existence on Earth munching through green Ryvita. Except for Matt Damon who – desperate to cure his radiation sickness – goes in search of Ben Affleck Elysium. 

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Luna Schlosser: “What’s it feel like to be dead for 200 years?”                                                                  

Miles Monroe: “Like spending a weekend in Beverly Hills.” 

2173: Woody Allen awakes from a 200-year old cryostasis to find that he is Flash Gordon; smoking and deep fat come highly recommended; and his rent is 10,000 months overdue. He could have made a fortune selling green Ryvita in his health food store…

March 22, 2233: James Tiberius Kirk is born, which means that the USS Enterprise mission to boldly go and drag down new life and screw up new civilizations transpired between:

2263-68: When the “original” Star Trek takes place.

2274: Boys get to wear lycra body-suits and the girls don chiffon nighties, holding green Ryvita parties in a 70s City-state, as featured in Logan’s Run, but death is compulsory as soon as they turn 30, hence the Run

2293: Last vestiges of humanity are concentrated around green Ryvita-processing-plant apparently in rural Ireland, overseen by huge flying head known as Zardoz. Embarrassing undies modelled by: Sean Connery…?! (The future looks bleak!)

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“Beedeebeedeebeedee” – Twiki. 

2491: Due to a “freak mishap,” subjected to “cosmic forces beyond all comprehension”, Captain Buck Rogers awakes from 500-year deep-freeze to find that he is Flash Gordon and Earth’s population has been reduced to wearing brightly-coloured spandex.  

3973: The human race has reverted to primitive mute level, while snazzily-dressed (no spandex, thank The Lawgiver!) talking apes have taken over. Curiously enough, there are no Austrian accents… Order will be SCREWED UP by a gun-toting (semi-clad) Charlton Heston. 

10,191: On the distant planet of Dune, Kyle MacLachlan and the Fremen defeat the Emperor of  the Universe with the aid of an incoherent script. And lots of giant worms. Everyone – speaking without talking; travelling without moving – is popping Spice. Pure, unrefined Spice sure beats green Ryvita any day, man… Embarrassing undies modelled by: Sting. (The future looks bleaker!)

802,701: The Earth is a shambles, despite having no guns, no spandex, certainly no sign of any talking apes. No Charlton Heston for that matter. Not only has the Ryvita run out, there is no Spice to be had either! Times don’t get tougher than this. Embarrassing undies modelled by: …what looks like a grotesque bunch of subterranean trolls. (Bleaker than bleakest.) Rod Taylor is left wondering why he travelled so far forward in his Time Machine…

If none of this has made you develop a taste for History instead, nothing will! 

Cheers!

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Yawn of the Planet of the Apes

Human see Human do…

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“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.

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^ 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.

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“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…

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^ 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?)