Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Planet of the Apes (1968) - Flashback Review

There’s nothing quite like classic sci-fi. The inherent charm of the early years of science fiction is almost unmatched in terms of genre filmmaking. And a film like Planet of the Apes is among one of the stranger concepts that actually worked at the time. Spawning an unorthodox franchise and one of the better series of films of the 21st century, the original Planet of the Apes deserves a look back at what makes it so great.

Complex sociological themes run through this science-fiction classic about three astronauts marooned on a futuristic planet where apes rule and humans are slaves. The stunned trio discovers that these highly intellectual simians can both walk upright and talk. They have even established a class system and a political structure. The astronauts suddenly find themselves part of a devalued species, trapped and imprisoned by the apes.

The first 20 minutes or so of the film, albeit dated at times, still does wonders in terms of establishing tension and mystery that pays off throughout the remaining runtime. The classic sci-fi that works so well, brings that discovery and strange nature that offers escapism and fun to this day. But the best of the best science fiction is deeper than just new planets or alien species, they offer depth. Planet of the Apes offers a subtle social commentary that doesn’t hinder the drama or spectacle in any way.

There is really only one performance to highlight from the entire film and that’s Charlton Heston. But I mean, it’s Charlton Heston what more do you need to really say? The man pretty much owns the screen here and gets the most face time considering a majority of his co-stars are hidden under ape prosthetics. Because of that it’s hard to really critique those performances beyond the incredible makeup work put into bringing those performances out. While newer technology may give Andy Serkis amazing methods for his Caesar today, the work in 1968 is nothing to scoff at.

The film, despite being almost fifty years old, looks fairly good beyond the obvious changes in film method since then. It’s an iconic piece of cinematic history that also contains one of the best reveals in history (If you’ve gone this long without being spoiled somehow, I applaud you and urge you to watch the movie without looking up the ending).

Overall, Planet of the Apes remains a cinematic classic not only in the sci-fi realm, but within film as a whole. An idea that loosely spawned from a French novel into a sci-fi classic has now turned into one of the 21st century's best franchises and if the third installment is up to snuff perhaps one of the best sci-fi trilogies of all time. 

So what are your thoughts on Planet of the Apes? What’s your favorite entry in the franchise? Share, subscribe, comment below and as always return to I Am Sam for weekly reviews and insight.

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