Friday, July 15, 2011

Ten Statements About....BATTLE FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES (1973)

"Yep...I'm you're villain, and I'm a with it...."
"Aldo will make the future--with THIS!"
"Well then, Aldo may very soon be in the past."

1) There is just something pure-D weird about John Huston's voice coming out of an ape's mouth...although I suppose if anyone is going to be Lawgiver, the central figure who is diefied in Ape society, we can do a lot worse.

2) Even though I am sure the budgets were cut on the last two movies, this is the first time we've seen it onscreen. The make-up is stiffer (in some cases, like with Claude Akins' General Aldo, you can see the actor's skin behind the masks), the sets look thrown together and the music...ouch. Instead of the subtle, witty and sparingly used music of previous entries, this one has a truly obtrusive, bombastic score.

3) The problem with the make-up being said...I find it fascinating how McDowell--prolly due to his tenure with the series--is able to make those masks move in such a way that you can see Caeser thinking and working things out in his head. He's the one actor who makes his status as a primate believable.

4) Imagine my pleasure at seeing Sevren Darden's Colp--now Governor of the mutants of L.A.--giving a performance that's somewhat different from the one he gave in Conquest, this one with a touch of humor and weariness that gives his character added depth. And even though he is one of two unreasoning villains in this film, the way he literally cannot bring himself to say 'Los Angelos' brings a tiny bit of pathos to him.

"Yes, I'm a mutant and I still have my hair...but this goggles
and swim cap combo makes me look suave, damnit!"
5) It took me a little bit of time...but I actually found myself warming quite rapidly to Paul Williams' Virgil. It makes me wonder what kind of career as an actor he would have had if he pursued it more vigorously and looked for more than films where his height made him a bit of stunt casting.

6) Yeah, the script by John and Joyce Corrington is clumsy in a lot of spots...but I respect that these two manage to avoid one-siding this situation. There are asshats in both camps, and there are decent individuals who argue for not aggravating the first contact between ape and mutants into all-out war.

7) While he's no great shakes as an actor, I give Bobby Porter a lot of credit--his Cornelius is the first ape actor in this series who actually behaves physically like an ape. Just like McDowell's facial movements, the way Porter swings and shimmies through the trees to spy on Aldo's men convinces us that he is a primate and not a boy in a suit.

"Why would we write Hamlet if it's already...oooooh, okay."
8) Look--those silly swim caps made sense in Beneath because you could say they were part of the masks that the mutants used to conceal their true form. Here they make the mutants look like they're stumbling around looking for the short bus.

9) The film would prolly have been strengthened if Aldo...well, if he wasn't such a dumbass. If they allowed this character to be a little more scheming (somewhat like they allowed Tim Roth to be as Thade in the Burton version) and not have things go his way by literally stumbling through his own mistakes, a new level of richness would have been brought to the story.

10) While I did appreciate the implication that by their actions, Ape City has broken free of the oroborous that results in Earth's destruction...what the fuck is up with that crying statue? That's just dopey.

Overall...a decent, if not great, close to a series that, in retrospect, kept a pretty damn consistently high level of quality.

(Oh, and after watching these five flicks--Roddy McDowall is The Man)

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