Monday, August 8, 2011

Planet of the Apes Reborn

Movie-wise, I've been very lucky. Two beloved franchises that shaped my childhood--Star Trek and Planet of the Apes--have been rebooted for the 21st Century with stellar movies. Star Trek was not that much of a surprise, considering JJ Abrams was involved, although I did have my misgivings. Rise of the Planet of the Apes came out of nowhere. I didn't know about it until I saw the trailor a few months back (a rarity for someone like me who scpurs the net for new geek stuff). I found the trailor and was impressed with the CGI work. With WETA (Lord of the Rings trilogy, King Kong, and Avatar) doing the motion-capture work I know it was going to look great. But it was the story itself along with the odes to the original franchise that blew me away when I saw it over the weekend. Better yet, I took my 6-year-old son with me and he loved it. Now we both share a love for the Apes.

I was actually younger than my son when I fell in love with the franchise. That was right before Star Wars came out. My older brother was already a sci-fi geek so besides Saturday Morning Cartoons, there was Star Trek in syndication, and weekend movies of Planet of the Apes, Forbidden Planet, Fantastic Voyage, and Journey to the Center of the Earth. There was also Godzilla movies and "Creature Feature" on Channel 5 which was a Saturday afternoon show broadcasting monster flicks every week. Man, I loved monsters back then. But, really, it was mainly all about Star Trek and Planet of the Apes.

Back then (well before Oprah), ABC Channel 7 used to broadcast between 4:30 and 6 pm a weekly movie. Planet of the Apes week was my favorite. I never missed it. The original used to be split into 2 and the other days showed 3 movies (Beneath, Escape, and Conquest). The last one, Battle for the Planet of the Apes was still in primetime movie rotation so when CBS broadcast it at night I lobbied hard to stay up to watch it and, fortunately, my parents always obliged.

In retrospect, Star Trek and Planet of the Apes were perfect counterweights. Star Trek showed the promise of the future while Planet of the Apes showed its bleakness. I gravitated more toward Apes in my story telling because I was never one for happy endings. But with the brilliant rebirth of the franchise, in a sense, I got my happy ending afterall.

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