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Movies, dining and things to do / Spokane and North Idaho

‘Planet of the Apes’ still has the bananas

You'd think that a movie franchise that was born in 1968, had four sequels and a television series, a 2001 reimagining and in 2011 a whole new reboot (featuring JAMES FRANCO, no less), would have run out of energy by now. Or bananas. Or something.

But I have to say, the latest movie version of French writer Pierre Boulle's 1963 novel “La planète des singes” — or, as we have come to know it, “Planet of the Apes” — just may the the best of all.

I'll defer the top spot to Franklin J. Schaffner's 1968 original, which worked off a screenplay crafted by Michael Wilson and the great Rod Serling. Yeah, the movie is cheesy, but it has at least two striking moments of originality: when we first see the gorilla on horseback bursting from the thicket, and that finale with Charlton Heston on the beach.

As time went on, the sequels got progressively more cheesy. And Burton's reimagining was just plain silly (Mark Wahlberg, really?). But Reeves, who helmed the J.J. Abrams-produced “Cloverfield,” and “Let Me In,” the better-than-decent remake of the Swedish vampire flick “Let the Right One In,” has taken a script written by the pair who gave us the 2011 film (Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver) — with additional work by Mark Bomback and Reeves himself — and has given us something unusual: a sci-fi, post-apocalyptic study that is CG heavy but still character-driven enough to achieve a sense of poignancy.

And while in the original, even in Burton's effort, the “good” apes were few, here they're mostly all good. It's only those scarred by their contact with humans who are understandably twisted and murderous. The trek to what we know is going to happen, then, is that much more sad, even if predictable. As far as back stories go, Reeves and his screenwriters have given us a pretty good one.

I, for one, am going to be a lot nicer to any and all animals I come across. Starting with my cats. They have a far better chance of surviving an apocalypse than I do.

Below: The embed is a clever take on the “original ending.” It is definitely NSFW.

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