Celebrating 50 years of ‘Apes’: ‘Escape from the Planet of the Apes’ (1971) (Movie review)

This series celebrates 50 years of the “Planet of the Apes” film franchise. Here, we look back at the third film in the original series.

“Escape from the Planet of the Apes” (1971) is proof that you can’t stop sequels from being made. According to the “Behind the Planet of the Apes” documentary (1998), Charlton Heston came up with the idea of not only killing off Taylor, but also blowing up the Earth at the end of “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” (1970), so as not to be dogged by yet another sequel. But a year later, the third film came out, propelled by a solution that was already present in the saga: time travel. Only this time, it’s in reverse, as Zira (Kim Hunter) and Cornelius (Roddy McDowall, back after a one-film absence) – fleeing the gorillas’ world of war — travel from 3955 to 1970s Los Angeles.

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‘A Quiet Place’ is a menacing masterpiece (Movie review)

Nothing in John Krasinski’s past would indicate that he had a film like “A Quiet Place” in him, and yet here we are. The onetime sitcom heartthrob has delivered a film that is not just frightening, but intimate and character driven. Sitting in the theater I was reminded of films like “The Descent” and “The Mist,” which similarly play on audience sympathies to up the scare factor by giving us characters we care about.

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As ‘Westworld’ nears its return to TV, here’s a look back at the Michael Crichton film that launched the franchise (Movie review)

With the second season of HBO’s “Westworld” set to debut on Sunday, I thought it’d be fun to finally watch writer-director Michael Crichton’s 1973 film that launched the franchise. The movie is well-known among sci-fi geeks, one of those classic dystopian visions that were popular in the wake of ’Nam. Yet it seems to be under-viewed and was therefore ripe for the TV re-imagining. While the movie is visually dated – the theme park’s inner sanctum has a starkness similar to the adaptation of Crichton’s “The Andromeda Strain” from two years prior — it’s remarkable how little updating of the template the HBO series had to do.

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Celebrating 50 years of ‘Apes’: ‘Beneath the Planet of the Apes’ (1970) (Movie review)

This series celebrates 50 years of the “Planet of the Apes” film franchise. Here, we look back at the second film in the original series.

Despite common misconception, “Planet of the Apes” (1968) does not reveal that nuclear warfare knocked the humans back a peg; that’s what Taylor (Charlton Heston) guesses, but it’s not confirmed until the second entry, “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” (1970). The underground mutant bomb worshippers peel back their false faces to reveal their true radiation-scarred visages. They worship The Bomb as if it’s a god (this film could’ve been subtitled “How Humans Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb”), and indeed, a genetic effect from the bombs has given them telepathic and mind-control abilities.

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Celebrating 50 years of ‘Apes’: Tim Burton’s ‘Planet of the Apes’ (2001) (Movie review)

This series celebrates 50 years of the “Planet of the Apes” film franchise. Here, we look back at director Tim Burton’s re-imagining of the material for his 2001 film.

Screenwriters William Broyles Jr., Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal shake out the puzzle pieces of the 1968 “Planet of the Apes” screenplay and Pierre Boulle’s 1963 novel and reassemble them in a fresh fashion for uber-director Tim Burton’s “Planet of the Apes” (2001), which is loved by some and loathed by many, but certainly provides lots of things to talk about.

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‘The Greatest Showman’ is a beautiful celebration of showbiz that doesn’t pretend to be subtle (Movie review)

“The Greatest Showman” (2017), now available for home viewing, takes us back to a time when anything is possible if you dream big and are persistent. Did such a time ever exist? That’s beside the point, as is what happened behind the scenes at Phineas Barnum’s circuses. (Don’t do an extensive internet search if you don’t want your illusions shattered.) Last year’s most-hyped musical is – within its own confines – a joyous celebration of dreams and achievements, with brief nods to hardships.

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Snyder-Whedon mash-up ‘Justice League’ has no surprises, but works as a theme park ride (Movie review)

Comic book writers love their heroes, and are less likely to give love and attention to their villains. That’s human nature, I suppose, but boy does it hurt modern superhero movies. “Justice League” (2017), now available for home viewing, is the latest film to suffer from a bland, predictable villain, and it keeps a fun blockbuster from becoming something substantial. Steppenwolf – no, not that Steppenwolf – wants to destroy the world because, as a Geico commercial would say, “If you’re a supervillain, it’s what you do.”

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‘Pitch Perfect 3’ is completely off key in formerly fun franchise’s finale (Movie review)

“Pitch Perfect 3” (2017), now available for home viewing, is an unfortunately perfect example of a franchise that keeps going after it has run out of good ideas. Following the fun and catchy original (2013) and the ultimately winning sequel (2015), the third entry is a mishmash of a concept it doesn’t commit to, a jokey style that rarely results in laughs, characters who speak more about “family” than the “Fast and the Furious” crew yet don’t seem to like each other, and – most inexcusable – a soundtrack of forgettable tunes.

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Celebrating 50 years of ‘Apes’: ‘Planet of the Apes’ (1968) (Movie review)

This series celebrates 50 years of the “Planet of the Apes” franchise. We naturally start with the original film, which hit theaters on April 3, 1968.

The original “Planet of the Apes” movie is groundbreaking and dated, flawed and fascinating. It still holds up today by every important measure, but – while the ape makeup effects, Jerry Goldsmith’s chillingly primitive score and the desert vistas and ape community sets are worthy talking points – it’s the narrative that makes the film timeless.

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‘The Disaster Artist’ tells the bizarre success story of a strange man, but it lets many questions linger (Movie review)

“The Disaster Artist” (2017), now available for home viewing, starts with various actors marveling over the horrible 2003 movie “The Room” and the fact that people still talk about it years later. They also raise the central question behind the phenomenon: Who is Tommy Wiseau, the man who saw this debacle from concept to finished film? Two hours later, you will have had a great time watching “The Disaster Artist,” but disappointingly, you won’t have the answer.

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