Cinematic Words Review: Planet of the Apes

     Today's review is a combo of the original book Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle, published in 1963 and its movie adaptation from 1968. Planet of the Apes has become a hit franchise over the past 40+ years.

     Planet of the Apes is considered one of the top 200 fiction books and has inspired no less than 8 movies. The first movies started in 1968 and consisted of 5 different titles: The Planet of the Apes, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Escape from the Planet of the Apes, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, and Battle for the Planet of the Apes.
     In 2001, Tim Burton directed a remake. From what I've read, this movie was based on Pierre Boulle's novel and loosely on the 1968 movie. However, as I have not seen it, I cannot testify to this or how true to either it may be. Perhaps at a later time, if I can find the movie, I will be able to provide an up to date review and how that movie lives up to the novel and its movie predecessors.
     Ten years later, in 2011, a reboot of the Planet of the Apes series was made and released. This movie went by the title of Rise of the Planet of the Apes. A new movie is scheduled for release in May of 2014 as a sequel. This is listed as being called Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. It is stated that the Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a reboot and serves as an origin story for a new series. This meaning that it will not be a continuation of the series begun in 1968.

     All of this seems a bit strange to me though, seeing how the original movie series ended. It was very open and I was expecting another movie to pick up where those left off and finish up the story. I suppose this leaves the audience to decide what happens in the future, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Although personally, I would've preferred for these rebooted films to pick up and carry the story where the past storyline ended. That would've been really amazing, but you can't expect Hollywood to cater to everyone's preferences.  Upon further reading, I feel the need to watch the newer movies, and soon. The plots outlined are very different from what the series has delivered so far....and my curiosity is getting the better of me.
     The book and adapted movies also inspired 2 TV series. The first was titled Planet of the Apes and began in 1974. It ran from September '74 to December '74, and was canceled due to lack of audience and a failure to compete adequately with other shows on at the time. Due to this, only 14 episodes were created. I found the complete series at my local library and will watch it in the future. If there's enough interest in it, I might review that as well. Leave a comment on this post, leave a post or message on my Facebook page (there is a link to it under the Contact Me tab at the top of the page), or e-mail me and let me know.

     After this first series came another. This one ran from September 1975 to December of 1975. It was different from all previous Planet of the Apes media in that it was an animated series. Consisting of only 13 episodes, it is said that it was never fully concluded, but suggested a possible ending. This isn't one I've heard of before. Although it does peak my curiosity quite a bit so I'll look into it some more and see if I can't possibly watch that too.

     I do believe it is time to start the actual review, now that I've given all the extra information regarding the series.


The Book:

Planet of the Apes
Author: Pierre Boulle
Rating: 3/5 

Planet of the Apes
I had been wanting to read this, but I never picked it up from the library. Then while talking to a friend about the many movies, there was some surprise that I hadn't read the actual book. So I felt that I should read it now instead of later and add yet one more book to my arsenal of literary knowledge. I requested it from the library and started on it immediately. This one took no more than a week, if that.  It isn't short, but it keeps you wondering what's going to happen next and makes you remain out of this world.

This book starts off in deep space, with a couple just cruising around. They seem very well off and know how to navigate their ship. Suddenly, they spot a bottle which seems to contain something inside it, so they pick it up. Wouldn't you know it, its a message in a bottle. This message is several pages thick and starts off the main story about how a journalist and scientist come to end up on a planet where things are not as they seem. The humans they encounter there are not like the ones on present day Earth. They seem to lack intelligence and are absolutely primitive in behavior. The apes are the ones who are of high intelligence and standing. They dress in clothes and talk and inhabit the planet in a similar way to us.

Ulysse Merou and Professor Antelle need to find out where they fit in the grand scheme of things and decide if its in their best interest to stay or leave as soon as possible. Planet of the Apes is full of suspense and our main character (Merou) is tossed into all sorts of unbelievable scenarios. He meets apes of various occupations. The social organization of the apes is different from that of other social organizations. There are 3 main species of ape living in this unfamiliar world on the planet of Soror: Chimpanzees, Gorillas, and Orangutans. Each species is equal to the other, but they all have their own roles and each ape group has a general opinion about the other 2. Its really interesting to find out where everyone's opinions lie and how each group reacts to things done by the other. I really enjoyed reading about the ape planet and seeing how they're society is structured.

This is a great science fiction book that has a surprising ending that will leave you thinking for quite a bit when it finishes. The book is definitely worth a read.

The characters each had their own quirks and reactions even though most of them were apes, which was very nice. There were no cookiecutter characters. There is a great variety of personality between Zira, Cornelius, and Dr. Zaius. It isn't totally predictable and there are many twists that I didn't even see coming. Thoroughly enjoyable.

The Movie:
Planet of the Apes
Rating: 6/10
Release Year: 1968

Featuring Charlton Heston and Roddy McDowall, Planet of the Apes is a movie that started off a whole series of sequels, a remake, and a reboot. One of the most commonly referenced movies to this day (mentioned in Madagascar and Big Bang Theory for example), it is not to be missed.  With great costuming, scenery, and an action sequence or two, this movie is very appealing. It pushes the boundaries of science fiction with its portrayal of Boulle's original novel.

If I had to describe this film in only two words, I would say raw and gritty. It is, at the core, survival in an unfamiliar, topsy-turvy world. Our protagonist, an astronaut by the name of Taylor, must come to realize that he isn't at home and that things are done very differently than he is used to. Every experience challenges his sanity and manhood. Everything that makes him a man will be questioned and challenged. The unbelievable occurs frequently and the technological developments made by the apes are rather staggering. Although, they are not quite so different from humans on present day Earth as we may think.

While you can definitely tell the age of the movie, it is nonetheless a timeless tale of adventure and the price that comes with scientific curiosity. With unexpected twists and a great cast, Planet of the Apes is a wonderful story to see on screen. It is also rated G and generally would be a good movie for the whole family, viewers of all ages. Everything about it cannot be gained from just one watch and the kids won't understand everything that's going on, but all will be enchanted by the apes and feel for the plight of Taylor.


The movie and the book are both worthwhile. I would highly recommend both. However, as far as book to movie transitions go, these don't line up completely.  The book presents an idea and the movie takes it and makes it its own. While most of the characters are the same, the protagonist is severely different being that Monsieur Merou in the book is a French journalist while Taylor is an American astronaut. Both males have their humanity questioned and threatened. Not to mention have similar reaactions to many situations. Many things from the book were left out of the movie, but the movies took the concept many steps further and developed more story for the audience to enjoy. Although I must add in that the apes in both media are portrayed rather differently. In the movie, the culture seems advanced, but is displayed overall as primitive in their overall society. They were not accurate to the book in this matter because they should've been much more humanlike. The buildings should have been more to human standard. The apes in the book were highly developed and just like humans. They have zoos, parks, theaters, parties and dress like humans, while in the movie, every facility looks like textured stone or dirt. Their manner of dress seems rather unusual too, although perhaps they were just going for a different type of stylization. It seems that the movie kept them more primitive than Boulle intended them to be. The movies have kept the idea alive and keep people curious about what has come before. So if you're into science fiction and love to read, pick up Boulle's novel. If you'd rather just see what all the talk is about, check out the movie. Bonus points to readers that decide they'd like to enjoy both!

Thanks for reading, I look forward to sharing my next review with you!