Monday, June 25, 2012

Spring Wrap-up Part Two

Planet of the Apes
I am a big fan of science fiction films so it might be surprising to my readers that I had not seen this movie before out than a few clips. Of course I already knew basic idea thanks to the influence
Planet of the Apes has had on pop culture (such as the Dr. Zaius song from The Simpsons!) and had the ending spoiled since I was a kid. The funny thing is that I had seen Tim Burton's 2001 Planet of the Apes movie back when it first came out on DVD. I didn't like it much except the "new" ending and that is probably part of the reason why I didn't get around to seeing the original until recently.
Planet of the Apes is based on the novel of the same name by Pierre Boulle. Boulle was also the author of the book which was the basis for the film The Bridge on the River Kwai which I wrote about a few months ago. Rod Serling, creator of the Twilight Zone, received a writing credit on the screenplay. His main contribution that made it into the film was the ending, which I've heard is quite different from the book.
Coming into
Planet of the Apes I thought it would be more campy because of the basic premise and numerous sequels. I knew that the movie had a good reputation but ended up being better than I expected.  The film touches on the topics of evolution, religion, treatment of animals, vivisection, and war without feeling forced or heavy handed. In some ways the story can be compared to Gulliver's Travels and even inversion of King Kong. The concepts of human aliens living on different planets and aliens that speak English with no explanation were par for the course when it came to science fiction movies and TV shows of the era. Planet of the Apes plays off of these concepts and indirectly parodies them with apes and the ending.

The acting is very good even though most of the cast is in under heavy make-up are the human characters can't speak. Along with The Ten Commandments and Ben-Hur this is one of Charlton Heston's signature roles. I only noticed
Roddy McDowell from his voice but he is awesome as usual. Linda Harrison did a good job as Nova, a "primitive" human. Maurice Evans does a nice job as the villainous Dr. Zaius.
The directing and cinematography is very good and certainly better than I expected. Director Franklin J. Schaffner would later win a Best Director Oscar for Patton.
The make-up on apes looks great even today. I just hope that CGI doesn't turn this aspect of filmmaking into a lost art! Planet of the Apes was one of the first films to have a major large scale merchandising tie-in. The movie has a great score by the great composer Jerry Goldsmith.
Even though I pretty much knew what was going to happen it was still absorbing and kept my attention.
It's interesting to note that
Planet of the Apes was came out in 1968, the same year as 2001: A Space Odyssey. While there has been several great science fiction films made before these two, I feel that this was the turning point for sci-fi films to be taken more seriously as a genre in pop culture than simply monster movies.
Planet of the Apes spawned four sequels of varying quality which I haven't seen yet. Last year's Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a surprise box office hit despite its clunky title so I'll have to check it out sometime.

Airheads (1994)
Airheads was directed by Michael Lehmann, who also directed one of my favorite movies, the cult classic Heathers. Airheads contains a few satirical elements but is not a full blown satire like Heathers. Maybe it would've been better had it gone in that direction, but I still like it as a fun little movie about rock n' roll. The basic plot is pretty simple: a struggling band (the Lone Rangers) takes over a radio station and holds the DJs hostage in order to force them to play their song and let it be heard over the airwaves! Most of the movie takes place inside the radio station so instead of a contained thriller we have a contained comedy!
Airheads features early roles for Adam Sandler and Brendan Fraser. Steve Buscemi puts in a nice supporting performance as usual. The rest of the cast includes a lot of familiar faces such as Chris Farley, Michael McKean, Harold Ramis, Judd Nelson, Ernie Hudson, Michael Richards, Joe Mantegna, Marshall Bell, and a young David Arquette. There are a bunch of appearences by musicians such as Lemmy, Rob Zombie, and MTV anchor Kurt Loder. Beavis and Butthead even have a cameo as callers to the radio station!
This is probably as close as we'll get to a Wayne's World 3 even though the humor between the two movies is different. While I liked the movie, it could've had a better title as "Airheads" could fit for a lot of movies and doesn't have anything to do with the music aspect of the movie.

Machete (2010)
A couple of months ago I wrote an extensive review for Hobo with a Shotgun. In that post I mentioned how I had actually seen Machete (which I preferred) before that movie. Hobo is more gory with a grim tone, while Machete is almost as violent but a more fun, outrageous, and wild ride.
Machete started out as a fake trailer for the movie Grindhouse and expands the basic plot we saw there. Despite starting out as a trailer for a movie that didn't exist, Machete is a true modern exploitation (in this case Mexploitation!) movie that is a lot of violent fun. Somehow they got Robert DeNiro to be in this movie which also features Steven Seagal in a rare role for him as a bad guy! Danny Trejo plays the title character with Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez, Don Johnson, and Cheech Marin (as a gun toting priest!) in supporting roles. I'm not a Lindsay Lohan fan but she is put to good use here.
My favorite lines were "Machete don't text" and "Machete improvise!"
There are plans for two sequels currently titled "Machete Kills" and "Machete Kills Again... in Space"! I don't know about you, but I really want that Machete in Space movie!
Machete is the second Robert Rodriguez directed movie I have seen with the first being The Faculty. I quite liked both movies so he is another director whose work I need to seek out.


  1. Good reviews. Yeah, the original Planet of the Apes is a great movie. Roddy McDowell is great as Cornelius. I actually think the first 4 sequels are pretty good as well. They go off in some really interesting directions plotwise and have some good subtext/satire.

    Airheads: I still need to see this. It's one of the few 90s comedies I haven't seen.

    Machete: I... er... didn't really like it all that much. I think Trejo's great and the concept is good but Rodriguez's shooting (and writing) style is really sloppy nowadays. He shoots TOO quickly. When you put it alongside Desperado the difference is very obvious.

  2. Hi Jack. I'll have to check out the POTA sequels sometime.
    I think you'll like Airheads. It is directed by Michael Lehmann who also directed Hudson Hawk which I remember you reviewed a couple months back.
    I haven't seen Desperado (or any other of Rodriguez's movies besides this and The Faculty for that matter) so I'll have to watch it eventually.