Chimpan-A to Chimpan-Z


40 Responses to “Chimpan-A to Chimpan-Z”

  1. There was a biker bar on Haight Street called The Theatre Club which had the “Go Ape” poster displayed proudly near the juke box.

  2. the ‘planet’ series was a huge part of my childhood. i looked forward to and saw each one with my older cousin, it was our ‘thang’, as silly as some of them were (it’s differnt when you’re a kid – or at least it was when i was but a lass). my own boy finds the original series groan-inducingly lame for the most part now – little shit! – but it’s a new era, i guess time moves on. sigh. but he absolutely loves the new ‘prequel’ (which is kinda/sorta a remake of ‘conquest’), so maybe this is the beginning of a new apes cycle for a new generation, off to a pretty good start… i found ‘rise’ a surprisingly lovely little movie with some dark and touching moments, and andy/caesar rocks — a bit ‘flowers for algernon meets 12 monkeys by way of papillon’ with some clean and tidy and even thrilling action in the final stretch; i think one of its strengths is that it doesn’t try to do too much, a simple story well told for the most part (i noticed the human element of the film has been coming under fire but franco and particularly lithgow do a fine job with their supporting turns, it’s not their story). hopefully the movie doesn’t get too over-hyped, over-hyping is the devil.

  3. I agree with Leah 100% on “Rise” (& over-hype). I’m just back from seeing this at the Cinerama Dome and I found it to be genuinely exciting & affecting (on a very human scale). Not to mention it’s packed with (unobtrusive) Easter eggs for “Apes” dorks (aka me). Amazing what Hollywood can accomplish when story leads over (high) concept. Also, the Academy needs to figure out a way to give Andy Serkis an Oscar for his performance as Caesar. Really.

  4. i have the apes series dvd box set (and i think i have them all on VHS as well from back in the olden days), i’m not sure which version of ‘conquest’ is on dvd, i’ll have to have a look.

    re: the idea of awards noms for andy’s perf, it’s quite the modern conundrum. with mo-cap now having now made the leap out of the volume onto location, shot right alongside the live-action camera allowing complete interaction of the performers in real time, the effects are essentially digital skin/makeup. add to that the fact that much of his turn is as the anti-hero of a silent film and the words ‘can of worms’ springs to mind…

  5. I also saw and liked RISE, but I guess i’ll wait for the actual review to elaborate. Otherwise, I’ll have to strain my poor brain to come up with additional comments later.

    Like so many of you, I’m revisiting the originals, which I adored fanatically as a kid. Models, dolls, comics, the whole bit. I’ve only re-watched the first so far. It really is big Chuck’s movie; must’ve killed him to remain silent for an extended stretch. It had the best production values, and it shows. Love that Ape City, and the full-scale spaceship prop on location in Lake Powell. That’s still impressive today.

    I’d love to see the uncut CONQUEST, but I have no Blu-Ray player. I’m sure it will make itself available to me in one form or another, sooner or later, ahem. I never noticed the bad dubbing during the final monologue in the past, but once you’re aware it’s hard to ignore. I’ve seen the “real” ending on YouTube, and stills of those bloody corpses, but they lack impact sans context.

    The ending of ESCAPE is still the most disturbing, depressing thing to ever traumatize a young lad. Rated G, doncha know.

  6. if christian does post a review of ‘rise’ this will be in the wrong place, but just to say that after perusing a smattering of the reactions/criticisms of the movie (pos. SPOILERS)

    of all the things that people didn’t care for, the weirdest to me are the reactions of those delicate souls who were upset by the concept of the story being from the ape and not the human pov, that humanity is portrayed in a sometimes less than flattering light and as going down the shitter in the near future, that we the audence are meant to root for the oppressed simians rather than our own species (a criticism i also heard re: avatar in a somewhat differnt context) and i can never understand this mindset — i mean in actual life i find human suffering and the concept of the downfall of our species horrific and unimaginable, a possible reality that of course hits way too close to home, but i LOVE it in movies when i get to indulge my ‘yeah, screw you humanity, arrogant fuckheads!’ seething contempt for my own type as rather a pox on the natural world, an ever-multiplying plague of greed and consumption. that others are so precious about humanity and its supposed untouchableness/greatness that they can’t get on board with some good old fashioned ‘fuck off humans’ sentiment kinda freaks me out in a primal way.

    • christian Says:

      SAW IT.

      I have no problem with the ape POV, and that works well. I liked it on the whole, tho felt it truncated in scenes – no moment where Ceaser finds out Lithgow has died, they must have filmed it — and incredibly, did anybody notice they NEVER INTRODUCED THE NAMES OF THE CHARACTERS. What was Franco’s girlfriend’s name? Or Brian Cox?

      Serkis was great and should be nominated if only because make-up effects could be seen as the same thing. I’m still not sold on the mo-cap and would prefer to see Rick Baker ape-o-thon. The CG still never quite works for me.

  7. an addendum to clarify the above after having read it thru(and with a bit more time to do so), my consternation isn’t so much an argument in favour of general misanthropy, but more an inability – or unwillingness – in some faction of people to feel that subversive/perverse joy in setting aside what would appear to be steadfast ‘humanism’ in order to revel in a view of humanity from the perspective of ‘the other’ (what/whoever that may be), even just in a fictional construct. i find this very bizarre.

    • SPOILERS!!!!!!!!!

      I love how the film, in keeping with its “silent movie” feel that, after it has ended (more or less), the end of humanity is completed through graphics (under the end credits) in approximately 30 seconds. That is economic storytelling which this film features in spades. I went back to see it again, this time at the Vista ($6.50 matinee!), and it played like gangbusters a second time through.

      • One other thing, the audience at the Vista (98% full house) loved “Rise”. You could feel the love for the movie from beginning to end. Also, extra points for having the Ticket Taker dressed in an Ape costume.

      • christian Says:

        Yes, and even at the drive-in where I saw it, I could hear the whoops from the assembled cars.

  8. I agree wholeheartedly Leah, especially considering that it’s basically a remake of CONQUEST. The whole humans-as-antagonists thing is nothing new. Some people apparently have nothing better to get upset about.

    In fact, one of my few complaints was that the new film copped out a bit on the violence. We all know what chimps are capable of these days — they’ve sort of undergone a reverse-rehabilitation after that face ripping incident. (Sort of the opposite of sharks, if you follow me.) The original CONQUEST was far more brutal — Caesar didn’t hesitate to kill. Those monkeys had cleavers! But the torture preceding it was also far more intense, so it felt justified.

    The kid gloves approach reminded me, oddly, of the recent Hulk films in which we’re constantly reminded that the soldiers in all those smashed tanks and helicopters are gonna need a Band Aid and a strong cocktail but are otherwise just dandy. In that case I got it, even as I found it ludicrous, because you can’t make a Marvel hero a killer. But Caesar is leading a revolution, dammit. I wanted to see those gorillas cut loose.

  9. christian Says:

    I can’t wait to see it today so I can actually READ the comments! You blew it up…

  10. bob, i enjoyed it more on second viewing as well when i took a bunch of kids/teens in a crowded theatre, i even heard a few little tear-shedding sniffles from the peanut gallery in two scenes in particular (crowds are such a double-edged sword, both a blessing and a curse). the movie is quite lean and mean and economical in terms of its storytelling – not to mention run-time compared to so many flicks today – but at the same time it doesn’t shy away from slow moments and sheer character-building, which is (sadly) something of a breath of fresh air in today’s cinema du pooperama.

    frankbooth, i’m feeling you, they obviously decided early on that their simians would not be killers in today’s more watered-down pg13 world (here it was rated ‘M’, the bizarre and ever-vague catch-all that can mean anything from mild content to fairly extreme violence and gore). caesar explicitly goes out of his way to try to prevent his mob from killing the humans (the most blatant when he stops the awesome rampaging free-at-last magilla gorilla from biting that cop’s face off), he’s a more caring sharing enlightened pacifist moses to lead today’s oppressed out of bondage.

    (and just an observation about some ‘critics’, do they actually pay attention during movies? i can be as easily distracted by shiny objects and miss a plot point here or there as much as the next person, but the sheer volume of errors and misinformation i caught in just the reviews i read was a bit shocking, esp. for a film as fairly simple and straightforward as ‘rise’)

    • christian Says:

      It definitely works the sympathy nerve in a way the others have not except for ESCAPE. But again, the cruel ape-keepers at the primate center test my credulity nerve – in no way or world would a SAN FRANCISCO based center for primates employ anything less than the most bleeding heart UC Berkeley vet/scientists. And Ceaser would certainly become a celebrity.

  11. Poor C. I really hope he’s seen the movie by now so he can join the discussion on his own blog. (And wasn’t that AMAZING when the ape army hung up those slaughterhouse workers, slit their throats and danced the Macarena as the pigs lapped up the blood?)

    Your M sounds as baffling as our PG-13. A film like the incredibly grim DARK KNIGHT can squeak by because the violence is splatter-free, but saying “fucker” will get you an R. Or maybe you can say it once or twice, but not in a sexual context — so you can say “fuck me!” but only if you don’t mean it.

    But it’s not like the system ever made sense. The ANDROMEDA STRAIN, with its mass death, powdered blood nightmares and hippie corpse boobs got a G back in the day.

    Yeah, some critics constantly miss or fail to comprehend basic plot points. Ebert is famous for this. Isn’t it rumored he often dozes through screenings?

    • christian Says:

      ‘And wasn’t that AMAZING when the ape army hung up those slaughterhouse workers, slit their throats and danced the Macarena as the pigs lapped up the blood?)’

      AGH! That’s when I went to the bathroom. I knew I missed something special!

      Ebert’s reviews are so baffling I don’t know what he’s doing.

  12. ominous silence from mr. TechDreams… uh oh

    frankb, the weirdest thing about the M rating here is that we must have one of the most finicky ratings classifications in the world (that’s actually a complete guess but i just can’t imagine it getting much more fussy than ours) and yet the vast majority of flicks are afforded the ever-vague and wildly varied in content M, so bizarre. essentially it’s no sex or excessive potty mouth or you get slapped with some variation of ‘R’ — but violence, no problemo, fuck each other up (just not literally or R it is, like you say).

    ftr, fwiw and for no particular reason, i will now regale you with our film classifications:

    the R age ratings are self explanatory (no admittance unless one is the specified age or over), but then you get RP13 & RP16 territory, which means an under-thirteen/sixteen year old can not attend UNLESS accompanied by a parent or guardian. all the variations are enough to do your head in.

    • christian Says:

      Good Lord! Talk about a ratings system!

      I miss our weirdest rating that was only used betwixt 70-71:


      Figure that one out.

  13. NINE? NINE classifications?

    You win.

  14. winning the country with most pedantic rating classifications on earth has always been a dream of mine.

    glad to see you finally saw it, c

    (perhaps it’s just me, but i don’t think a rick baker-esque ape-o-thon with simian costumes would work better within the premise of the film tho, with actual real simians escaping into the woods, not sure suspension of disbelief of humans-in-ape-costumes can be achieved even with the best in-camera effects… christian do you think you could better achieve suspension of disbelief with humans in ape costumes, when the apes are meant to be realistic apes and not the anthropomorphised-with-human-characteristics simians portrayed in the previous POTA installments? just curious, i find it a fascinating concept)

  15. christian Says:

    I think the woeful Burton POTA proved you could totally pull the apes off given the right sci-fi explanation — and the Burton apes were CG’d in the apropos swinging through the trees scenes. Caeser here looked “unreal” from the start and CG anthropomorphized that a combination of the physical make-up with mo-cap would be the best fit.

  16. thanks for that, interesting.

    again, the issue for me is the apes in ‘rise’ are meant to be actual real garden variety simians just with various increased intelligence levels, so no sci-fi explanation could justify blatant anthropomorphism in that context, which costumed humans by default would convey (the smaller size of real chimps particularly problematic with humans in chimp suits, the legs specifically; even composited apes would be problematic in this regard); i’m not sure how costumed humans could work in the specific context of ‘rise’, i’d think the core idea of actual real great apes as the original escapees would have to be changed somehow, whereas in burton’s ‘apes’ the context was quite different, allowing for effective costumed humans/compositing, but i’m happy to agree to disagree on the subject. i can totally understand your POV and i’m sure you’re not alone in your perspective.

    (after a short period of adjustment, caesar and the other sims didn’t look “unreal” to me – apart from a few dodgy apparently undercooked vis effects shots, my brain was happy to accept them as real in the space, so therein obviously lies the rub in terms of the ‘cg vs. costume/composited’ debate and individual perception – tho real chimps would still look the most authentic, tho glad they didn’t attempt that considering the themes of the story)

    • christian Says:

      Yeah, I guess the thing is that Caesar didn’t look anymore “real” as a super-intelligent chimp than Tim Roth in Burton’s POTA so just go for a hybrid human/monkey race that would takeover. And I think the apes in RISE will not look as cozy speaking English in a sequel given their simian verisimilitude. Most of the efx were fine in RISE but there’s just something about some CG elements that don’t quite jell, and so a hybrid of efx alays seems the best answer as Peter Jackson and a couple others can do. Spielberg still might be the best since his direction usually places the efx within a purposeful, composed image…wait til I have coffee and I’ll get back to you;]

  17. well, i agree that the talking element will be a challenge if there’s a follow up, perhaps much further on in the ape evolution/human devolution (?)… (but you think caesar doesn’t look any more like a real chimp than tim roth? ouch! the principle apes in the cast were photo-modeled off real simians — alpha, the one that beats the crap out of caesar when he first comes to the facility is actually modelled off a bonobo, i’ve been told, and caesar’s upright body is closely modelled on the infamous ‘humanzee’, who stood and walked upright, tho his face was modelled off some other chimp, but with those scarily intelligent human-esque eyes of course, which really set him apart)

    one thing is clear: animal testing on/using chimps for vivisection and as victims of our scientific dirty work must stop, it’s an abomination and a travesty.

  18. “…a combination of the physical make-up with mo-cap would be the best fit.”

    That was my thinking. The WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE approach. Then you don’t have to worry about simulating fur and movement, just digitize the faces.

    But then again, Leah’s comments about size and proportion make sense. They could go with arm extensions and acrobats on wires and all that, but you’d still have to augment, and once you’re CGing that much of the action, why not go all the way?

    I also agree that while Caesar and co weren’t 100 percent convincing, after a few minutes I just accepted them as characters. I found the digital splatter in HARRY BROWN, which I just watched, far more jarring because it’s set in an ostensibly realistic, gritty world where everything else is practical. And then suddenly there’s this obvious computerized cartoon splatter…disastrous. (It bugged me in THE DEPARTED, too.) Compare to THE DEER HUNTER, which is still utterly convincing.

    Come to think of it, the uber-creepy Sean Harris (Ian Curtis in 24 HR PP and a riveting, terrifying drug dealer in HB) would have made a fine Gollum with minimal makeup. Have you looked at TWO TOWERS recently? Those vaunted effects are already aging badly. If they’d gone with a skinny actor in makeup, I genuinely believe it would have held up better.

    Anyway, this debate will become a moot point in a few years. We really won’t be able to tell the difference, which is kind of scary.

  19. Oh, one more thing –

    “one thing is clear: animal testing on/using chimps for vivisection and as victims of our scientific dirty work must stop, it’s an abomination and a travesty.”

    I completely agree. But are you willing to take it to the logical conclusion? (The following is fairly long, but try to peruse it when you have a moment.)

  20. looks interesting and timely what with deforestation still going on to make way for more bloody cows, i’ll have a proper read later when i have some time (and for some reason just the idea of reading about meat right now makes me feel like i’m gonna hurl, my stomach’s not right. i’m not a vegetarian but i don’t eat a lot of meat as it is, chicken and heaps of fish; if i had to kill it all myself i’d be in trouble tho, probably live on berries and twigs and the stuff from my little gargen)

  21. “Leahn” is the one with a “gargen.” Must be in some kind of alternate reality.

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