Why I Love Planet of the Apes


We are approaching a new Planet of the Apes movie this summer and I am extremely excited.  While a lot of people frown on remakes, we have to come to terms with the reality that remakes are a thing.  We have had several of our favorite films remade Psycho, Ghostbusters, Karate Kid, Footloose, and more.  Unfortunately, sometimes it is hard to enjoy remakes because you love the original too much to accept something new, or the remake itself is just plain awful.  But sometimes they get it right and you find yourself in love with the newer version. This is how I feel about the new incarnation of Planet of the Apes.  

planet of the apesWhen I was small, my mother was tired of my brother and me fighting over the television.  Her solution one year for Christmas was to give us our own televisions.  They had 4 inch screens and were black and white.  You had to use a dial to find a channel and most would not come through.  Nonetheless, I loved it!   It was on this tiny television that I discovered Planet of the Apes. On channel 2 (I don’t remember the network at the time) they would air marathons on the weekends every few months.  I would barely leave my room when this occurred.  

168 planet of the apesWhile curled up on my bed one weekend I was stunned to learn it was earth all along (the scene where Charles Heston’s character George Taylor discovers the head of the Statue of Liberty).  Never in my childhood had I been so shocked.  I was hooked! The apes looked amazing and if they hadn’t been so cruel I would have wanted to live with them.   This was something more though; it wasn’t just science fiction. This was the first series I remember watching that began to teach me the failings of society.  This series reminds us that when we get too caught up we tend to forget what is important and the lash back from it can be cruel.   

Childhood innocence is always something I admire.  Mine held strong for this series. It wasn’t until later in life when I saw the entire Planet of the Apes series on DVD that I learned the series was could be seen in color.  It is such a silly thing to hold that childhood belief for so long and yet it is one of the reasons I love the series more.  I quickly bought the series and began re-watching them. They were still amazing!  I loved every minute of them and when I heard they were remaking the movie I told all my friends we were going opening night.

Sadly, the 2001 remake is one of those tales where it didn’t work out so well.  I really did want to love it.  I tried to love it, however in the end I had to admit that it was mediocre and didn’t really fulfill the vision that the original series had given us.  Ultimately, I had to admit all of the downfalls of the movie.  It seemed at this point the originals would still be the ones that held my heart.

When I heard the series was coming back in 2005 I was skeptical.  Hadn’t I already been down this road?  When this new version finally hit theaters in 2011 I discovered, to my surprise, that they were not just making a remake; they were reinventing the series.  I sat in the theater that opening weekend and fell in love with the series all over again.  Not only had they found a new way to tell the story, but they were still able to embrace the moral of the story from the original films.  

Rise Planet of the ApesThe motion capture acting really brought these films to life!  I was able to see Andy Serkis at NYCC (New York Comic Con) where he talked about how motion capture acting came about and how film companies have been able to use it for computer generated characters such as Caesar.  It is truly inspiring how he has brought Caesar to life and you find that you love and fear the character.  Both of the films Rise of the Planet of the Apes and  Dawn of the Planet of the Apes have truly been amazing.  They continue to remind us not only of our failings but also of our strengths.

Whether it is the original or the relaunch the Planet of the Apes series pulls at your heart strings.  It reminds us we need to be the better person.  This is why I love the series. 

The third installment in this relaunched franchise comes out this July and has been titled War for the Planet of the Apes.  I hope to see you there.

War of Planet of the Apes