Platoon

Year: 1986
Directed By: Oliver Stone
Written By: Oliver Stone

RYAN’S REVIEW

Back in 2003 I was 19 years old, in college, and aggressively involved in the world on a larger scale for the first time. At that young adolescent age my mind was exploding and I was hungry for all the knowledge in the world. For the first time I had stepped out of the world of Ryan (high school years) and started paying attention to the world around me. I was heavily invested in the Iraq War, both politically and emotionally. I was inspired and full of ideas in a way that only the young can be. I’ll never forget the feeling of despair I had when I sat in front of the TV and watched as the Iraq War officially began. I remember that once it had ultimately started I went to my tiny movie collection and put in this movie. I no longer wanted to see the reality of what must be taking place on the other side of the world. Instead I chose to watch the only thing I had that remotely related to the conflict, which was this movie.

Now there are several similarities between the Vietnam and Iraq wars but that had nothing to do with why I watched this film that night. I not only watched this film that night but I watched it every night after for probably as long as two months. This movie drew me in, it taught me something. It was real and a representation of the consequence of such actions. I watched it so much I knew every character in the film and when their character perished. This movie was made by a man who knew, a man who gave up his cushy life to fight alongside the common man who had no choice. This movie was based on the real life experiences of the man who made it, a man who lived through war. That meant something to me as my country entered another war that would undoubtedly lead to dire consequences for so many.

This is the movie that helped me understand war. The movie that taught me that war is more than action and wrong on several levels. There is “the way of war” and it’s an awful thing. No matter the circumstances that bring it about, when war becomes an option it is the innocent that suffer. In the way of war people are fighting for their lives. You have two sides pushed to the extreme and you have people caught in the middle. Who is to blame when horrible and awful things happen? The circumstances are a recipe for mayhem. When war is established life becomes dog eat dog for the people involved. It sucks but that is “the way of war.” Once the point of no return has been crossed the consequences that follow are inevitable.  Wars are fought by the young, especially this war because most of the men serving were drafted. Teenage boys carrying guns through the jungle can’t be held accountable for when they snap under the pressure. The people caught in the middle can’t be to blame because they are just trying to stay alive. There are so many unfortunate circumstances created by war. These things can never be lost on the men making the decision to go to war. People are going to suffer when war becomes necessary, it has to be for good reason or else it is just wrong and there is no justice to it at all.

When I was 19 years old I thought Oliver Stone was a God. Not literally of course but I thought he was head and shoulders above other filmmakers. He was the number one director in my mind and I felt his career was one of the greatest. Those illusions came crashing down a year later when the much anticipated, to me at least, Alexander came out. I had eagerly awaited that movie only for it to claim the highest echelon in the ranking of movies that crushed my soul. That is neither here nor there though as a year prior when I was watching this movie night after night I still had all my hopes and dreams for films invested in this man. Oliver Stone was Private Taylor from this film played by Charlie Sheen. Stone had dropped out of Yale to fight in Vietnam, something admirable that I respected then and still do today. Oliver Stone may be a bit of a conspiracy nut and like all conspiracy nuts he will bend the truth to serve his own purposes but there is still plenty the man deserves our respect for.

I had become infatuated with Stone for the wrong reasons prior to 2003. Like most young adolescent boys I was rebellious and as a movie fan I was drawn to the films that inspired my wild and immature inclinations. I liked to walk the fine line between good and bad and experimented with an aggressiveness that was encouraged by the movies I loved. Stone came into the picture with films like The DoorsAny Given Sundayand of course Natural Born KillersThese movies fueled my endeavors into rebellion, drug use, promiscuity, and profanity. There were several films and filmmakers that had this affect on me but it was Stone I stayed with as I matured from a boy into a young adult. With films like Platoon, Wall Street, Nixonand JFK Oliver Stone inspired me in new ways that molded my personality during the developmental years that continue in college. I have since grown out of the stage I was in when these films inspired me and I no longer see Stone in the same light I did back then. Nevertheless I still hold most of his films in high regard and I will always respect the man. A man that lived the life he does and did the things he has done deserves respect. I know better as an adult than to take everything he made at face value but there are still plenty of things I took away from his films and I appreciate the lessons that they taught me.

I have always found the Vietnam War to be fascinating and prefer the war movies from that era as opposed to the ones from before. There are different themes from those differing generations that I think are important. WWII left Americans with the impression that they were the greatest country in the world and could do no wrong. Many WWII movies I find enhance this theme. As a young man I whole heartedly believed in these all-American ideas as well but when I grew up I felt differently. Vietnam was like a slap in the face to Americans because it reminded them that not only were they not the unbeatable super power who could do anything but they were not even the good guys in some circumstances. Vietnam happened during a time when the children of the Baby Boomers were coming of age and they had different ideas about the state of the union.  The things happening in Southeast Asia were being broadcast on television every evening for the first time and the news was rarely good. It left an impact on the younger generations not only because it was in their face but because many of them were being recruited to fight in the conflict. Vietnam was going on during a cultural change in America. It was not a time where the country united to protect the world for the greater good like in WWII, but a time when the country was bleeding at home and divisions among the public were fueled by the conflict at hand. I feel like WWII films tend to represent the propaganda age of America while Vietnam films represent the realism that the country had to face. Vietnam films usually focus on the reality of war, the consequences that it creates, and the truth that we all need to understand as a people.

This movie taught me many of those truths, and I took them more seriously because the man teaching was one who knew. He was there and had firsthand experience in what he was trying to explain. I still find this film just as inspiring as I did when I was watching it for the first time and I still find lessons in it that we can all learn from. I am no longer the diehard Oliver Stone fan I was in my youth but that is by and large due to growing up. As an adult I am not as infatuated with the stoned and suspicious mind of Oliver Stone. The man’s work is on screen and he made some incredible things, but in the grand scheme of things they spoke to a younger version of myself that went into hibernation years ago before my kids were born. There is often a fine line between brilliance and insanity and Stone danced that line till he fell over into the insane side a long time ago. I am no longer the young and impressionable adolescent who believed in such grand ideas as the JFK conspiracy and believed that with a strong enough voice things in the world would change for the better. The world is what it is; you can only accept it at face value and keep moving forward. Delving into the larger scheme of things is only going to bring you disappointment and amount to wasted time.

There is something from this movie that I always used as an example to suggest Stone’s abilities and it had nothing to do with his take on the war. In this movie Oliver Stone got an impressive performance from Charlie Sheen in the role of Private Taylor, and again a year later in Wall Street. Charlie Sheen is an incredibly interesting person, but that aside, he has never been a particularly good actor. In the years before all his crazy antics in the press I used to wonder how it was that this man was such a celebrity and made such a good living at it. There were so few performances aside from the two already mentioned that I thought were worth anything. Point being, he was not a very good actor. However, I have always believed that a bad actor can be made great in a film by the right director. Hence the impression of Stone I had grew because of the performance he was able to get out of Sheen. In contrast I felt that in 2004 the opposite was true. Despite all the time he had invested in the film Stone made a horrible movie with his Alexander and specifically got an awful performance out of another bad actor, Colin FarrellAlexander, as far as I am concerned, was the end of Oliver Stone’s career for me as a fan because it signified a decline in skill. A couple years prior to Alexander one of the greatest directors ever, Steven Spielberg, had gotten a good performance out of Farrell in Minority Report. If Spielberg could do something that Oliver Stone could not it suggested to me that Stone had lost something, and I still feel like that holds true because in the last 10 years nothing he has done has impressed me as it did prior to Alexander.

Beyond Charlie Sheen this movie offers a very rich cast of actors. Tom Berenger gave one of the best performances on his career playing Sgt. Barnes. The role of Barnes was initially meant for Kevin Costner, who I think could have pulled it off well but Berenger made it his own. Willem Dafoe gave an equally good performance as Sgt. Elias. Dafoe is such an interesting actor and continues even until today to show a range and diversity as an actor that is impressive. Stone intentionally cast Berenger and Dafoe in roles contrasting what the public was used to seeing them play. Berenger, who usually played good guys, was cast as the ruthless and cruel Sgt. Barnes while Dafoe, who usually played villains, was cast as the crusader Elias. An interesting idea that worked well and brought more diversity to the careers of both men.

In the roles of other Sergeants were long time Stone collaborator John C. McGinley and the scariest man ever, Tony Todd. McGinley never reached that upper echelon of stardom but he played so many terrific parts over the years. Tony Todd plays a small part in this movie but his presence in anything should never go unnoticed because when you fail to notice Candyman he comes up behind you with a hook and kills you. Johnny Depp played the translator Lerner in one of his first roles ever. Stone reportedly met with him during casting and immediately predicted his future fame. In fact he considered casting Depp in the lead role of Taylor but didn’t because Depp was so young and unknown at the time. Keith David plays one of the biggest parts of any of the grunts in King. I am a big fan of Keith David and like just about everything he has ever done. Also as another grunt was future Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker whose part was small but shouldn’t go unnoticed.  Kevin Dillon played Bunny, the sadistic grunt who by the end nobody knows what to make of. Dillon probably had high hopes for his career in 1986 but he turned out to be the less famous brother of his not so famous older brother Matt Dillon.

The making of this movie was quite an incredible thing that went a long way with how the final product came out. As a veteran Stone didn’t just cast actors and put them in the jungle. He went farther and put them through an actual boot camp in the Philippines that ended the day before shooting. He didn’t want them to have any down time after the camp because he didn’t want them getting soft again before shooting the movie. It was a rigorous shoot that had some actors feeling like they had actually been in the war by the time they got home. Charlie Sheen reportedly kissed the ground upon his return to the States. These guys went into the jungle and did it the hard way; the way it should have been done to get it right. Even the fun stuff during this shoot was hard on the actors. In the scene where King takes Taylor to “meet the heads” the actors had been actually getting high all day on potent Filipino weed. By the time they actually shot the scene they were all stoned out of their minds and some were even feeling sick. An interesting story that I’ve always figured had to play into the long term drug use of the young Johnny Depp and Charlie Sheen. I don’t know but if I had to guess I’d wager Oliver Stone was the guy who introduced Charlie Sheen to his favorite drug of choice, cocaine. I imagine the Filipino weed was merely a stepping stone for Sheen as he moved onto coke and ultimately…tiger blood.

This movie is important to me because it taught me something that I will never forget. However this movie is important for many more reasons because it was a great movie and it accomplished what it intended to. The screenplay for this movie was written back in the 70s when Stone returned to America and didn’t appreciate how the war was depicted in John Wayne’s The Green BeretsIn that sense it succeeded in depicting a more realistic view of what the war was actually like. It wasn’t alone in trying to send that message as a few films about Vietnam came out around the same time. Most notably, Full Metal Jacket came out the following year. Both are great movies but they should not be compared because they are so different. Platoon was a film about the Grunts while Full Metal Jacket was a film about the Jarheads. The significant difference there was that men were drafted into the army while the marines are a branch made up of volunteers. That makes all the difference as one film is about men who chose to serve while the other is primarily about men who had no choice in the matter.

The Vietnam War was a fascinating chapter in American history and a true example of how history is never used enough going forward. Had the powers that be reflected on history during the development of the conflict in Vietnam the whole thing may have never happened. On the flip side, had the lessons from that conflict specifically been learned the US may not have entered another long war to force democracy down the throats of people who had no interest in it. It is difficult to fight a war on the other side of the world for reasons that mean little to the inhabitants. Guerrilla warfare is hard to combat, the British learned that over 200 years ago but somehow the lesson seems lost on the US. When the enemy can be anybody and can come from anywhere bad things will happen all around to everyone involved. The soldiers fighting under the pressures of their lives being on the line can’t be held accountable for the things that happen nor can the inhabitants who at some point may just get fed up and take up arms against the foreign soldiers in their country. It is the “way of war” and war never goes well. It’s not an action movie and it’s not a video game. When it happens people are going to suffer and someone’s hands are going to get dirty.

Movies are made to entertain but they are so much better when they can actually teach us something at the same time. This movie can do that and I appreciate it more for that very reason. This is a great film and it doesn’t need my stamp of approval on it because it has plenty already. If you haven’t seen this movie then you are missing out. If you don’t know the incredible history of the Vietnam War you are missing out, but you’d need a lot more than a movie to learn about that. As time moves forward things get lost behind us but it is important to never forget the lessons the past has to offer. This movie, for me at least, represents such a lesson and that makes it worth everybody’s time. This is an awesome movie and I think everybody should see it.

NEXT MOVIE: Pleasantville (1998)

The Return of Negan!!!!

I’m going to deviate from our typical theme of movies to talk about something else I’m into. I am an avid fan of the comic book The Walking Dead. To the point that I spy out the covers of upcoming issues hoping for a glimmer of what might be to come. As of yesterday I saw something so awesome I can’t contain myself and I have literally nobody to talk to about it that would even begin to know what I was talking about. “I like The Walking Dead too, you are talking about the coolest character? You mean Daryl right?” AHHHH!!! These fans of the TV show (the show is different and I do like it) drive me nuts, much like the hardcore fans of HBO’s version of Game of Thrones who know nothing about what they are missing out on. Blah blah and so forth but the reason for all of this is the issue coming out in two months. The cover of the May issue displays an image of Negan standing before an open jail cell.

225px-Issue_141_CoverFor those of you who don’t know. This is Negan, the greatest bad guy ever. The TV show will ruin him because he is way too cool for the limitations of network TV. Any fan of the show should start reading now so they can see how awesome the baddest bad guy really is. Nevertheless he has been locked away for years following the war in the comic book. This cover implies that Negan is finally getting out.

When the war was ongoing I actually found myself hoping Negan would kill Rick, claim Carl as a begrudging protegé, and we would follow him through this world of the apocalypse. Sadly that wasn’t how it panned out but I was content with the fact that Negan at least lived and still had the potential to wreak havoc again.

After seeing this cover I am going to be antsy for two freaking months while I wait to see what happens. I miss this guy; I need this witty badass whose capable of anything. I need the profanity, I need the violence, I need Lucille, I need the pure unadulterated understanding of the world he lives in, I need the control he has over everything, and I need more of his story. Life is a bitch but something about this guy helps make it easier once, sometimes twice and month on “Walking Dead Wednesday.”

I love this story and as agonizing as it is to wait month by month for the story to progress it never fails to let me down. Now that I know Negan is getting out of jail sooner rather than later I am excited. It’s like a motivating force somewhere in the back of my mind constantly reminding me I have something really cool to look forward to, in a couple of months.

I cannot wait to see what Kirkman has in store for Negan as he gets back out into the world but one thing is for sure. I have absolutely no doubt that he is going to do something awesome. Is there anybody out there with me on this? Where are the other fans who can appreciate conversation about how awesome Negan is? I literally have a Negan action figure on my desk at work and I am constantly making references from this awesome bad guy that nobody gets. Who else is as excited as I am at his possible return to action in the comic? I need some dialogue.

Planet Terror

Year: 2007
Directed By: Robert Rodriguez
Written By: Robert Rodriguez

RYAN’S REVIEW

When this movie came out on DVD I bought it on the spot having not yet seen it. I watched it frequently after getting it and often fell asleep with it on. This movie goes back to menu when it’s over and that song plays over and over again if you don’t turn off your television. I have slept many a night with that song playing nonstop like a personal soundtrack through my dreams. It has been burned into a brain in such a way that when I am old and everything else is gone I will probably hum the tune from this film. I love the song and every single time I pop in the DVD I get this funny feeling from that music. It sucks me in and pulls something inside of me to the surface. That score, as much as anything else, is what makes this an awesome movie for me.

Another obvious thing that makes this movie awesome is the intro. Let me pose a question for anybody reading this now. Is there anything hotter than Rose McGowan in the opening scene of this movie? She is as sexy as any woman I have ever seen, barring my wife of course, dancing on stage to the music by Robert Rodriguez. I don’t understand why she has had such a limited career in acting over the years. I can’t really find any flaw in her talent and she is hot enough to pull off plenty of roles but for some reason she has been limited to films, more or less like this one. This was an intentional B movie and it was fitting for her being cast as she is mainly a B actress. I don’t understand why though. I think she is awesome in this movie and she portrays one of my favorite heroines of all time.

You can say whatever you want about Rose McGowan, but she is a badass as Cherry Darling. Not only is her opening dance scene smoking hot but when she gets her new leg she is an utter badass. I love when she launches herself over the wall and starts mowing down the infected soldiers while utilizing her dance moves. In a movie like this is doesn’t really matter how reasonable it is for a go-go dancer to suddenly become such a badass.  All that matters is what is and this just so happens to be really freakin cool.

I have written many times throughout this blog that when Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino collaborated on these Grindhouse films that Rodriguez proved to be the better filmmaker. Tarantino made what amounted to a 2 hour chick flick with a thrill ride at the end in his half of the collaboration, Death Proof. With this film Rodriguez not only made an awesome film, he did it all himself. He wrote this film, directed it, produced it, edited it, and even wrote the music for the film. It may have been an intentionally campy B movie but with this film he showcased a hell of a lot of talent. It’s one of the reasons I consider him such an incredible filmmaker. One thing Rodriguez never forgets as a filmmaker is the cool factor. I’ve always been a proponent of the cool factor in any movie. If it’s not cool then what good is it? You can just about guarantee that when Rodriguez gets behind camera what he produces will look cool. It may come out as overkill and sometimes even silly but it will be cool and you can take that to the bank.

This movie, if nothing else, is cool and that all starts with the cast. Rodriguez always gets a good group of latino actors into all his films but acting side by side with them are always A list actors. In the part of his misunderstood Latino badass he cast Freddy Rodriguez, no relation. He may have looked silly riding that tiny motorcycle at one point in the film but he fought with the ferocity of a samurai when wielding his butterfly knives in the hospital on his way to save Cherry. In the bad guy roles he has A list actors Bruce Willis and Josh Brolin. Now I have mentioned before I didn’t understand what rock Josh Brolin suddenly crawled out from under but it was right around the time this movie came out he did so. After doing nothing really noteworthy since 1985 in The Goonies he burst onto the map in 2007 with five films, this among them. Bruce Willis is an actor welcome in just about anything. I remember when I saw him in the G.I. JOE sequel I felt like these days he would do just about anything for the paycheck but movies since have proved he’s still got it. I hate what he continues to do with the Die Hard franchise but I could never honestly criticize Willis. He has been an awesome actor as long as I have been alive.

I love that Michael Biehn is in this movie. It’s one of the reasons it stands out to me. I have always been a fan of the original Kyle Reese and I have never understood why his career didn’t take off in other ways. He is part of one of my favorite parts in this movie. When the surviving group arrives at the BBQ joint his deputy, played by cult icon Tom Savini, asks him if he’s sure about this. In his hand Savini shakes a box label “All or Nothing Box.” When Biehn confirms Savini dumps the box full of badges on the hood of the car while Biehn tells everyone they have now been deputized. I love the concept of the “all or nothing box” and how obvious it is utilized in this movie. After arming all of them he walks up the hill and tells them, “don’t shoot each other, don’t shoot yourselves, and most importantly (he turns to face them) don’t shoot me!” Such an awesome actor how is it that Michael Biehn didn’t do more with his career? I don’t know the answer to that so if anybody does know please enlighten me, and I will not accept that he just isn’t a good actor when so many others made it and he didn’t.

I’m unfamiliar with Marley Shelton, and still haven’t seen her in anything else since this movie, but she is great as the nurse with her three little friends. I used to have a poster hanging in my home of her character Dr. Block holding up a syringe, mascara running down from her wild looking eyes, with the tag line “just a little prick.” I loved that poster but Amber won’t let me display it in our home anymore and I to agree it’s probably a bit much for our young children. I still have it though and one way or another it will one day have its place on display again.

I love how aggressive this movie is. It’s aggressive in so many ways. It is aggressively exaggerated and aggressively obvious at times. I think it is interesting to look back at a movie like this in 2007 and hear the big bad guy, Bruce Willis, claim to have been the soldier who killed Osama Bin Laden. Of course we know now that not only was he not dead in 2007 but he somehow continued to live his lavish lifestyle while alluding capture for more than a decade. My main point is that this movie now stands in an interesting place historically as it represents a time when we had no idea what had become of the world’s greatest enemy. The number one villain in American history had been unaccounted for for so long that a movie like this aggressively puts forth one of the many theories to what had to have happened. It represents American thinking in such an interesting way. The idea that he had simply gotten away wasn’t considered or accepted by the public as the great almighty United States would never allow such a man to escape punishment. We know now that not only did he do just that but he lived unencumbered for longer than anyone thought was possible.

I feel compelled to wrap this up now but I could never say enough about this movie. I’m not even satisfied with everything I have covered so far but have let it sit to long. It’s time to release it into the world. There is more to say about this movie though, and I encourage any film fan out there to see it. See it to compare the styles and abilities of Tarantino vs. Rodriguez. See it to learn the kind of thing the American public had about Osama Bin Laden 6 years after 9/11. See it because it is a cool movie that is fun to sit back and enjoy. It would be easy to pass of the Grindhouse films as a camp and nothing significant but that would be wrong. These movies are special because there is so much to get out of them. So much to enjoy about them. This is one of my favorite movies ever and I suggest it to all but the faint of heart that I simply don’t think could handle it.

One more thing because I can’t deal with the fact that I didn’t fit it in. Naveen Andrews is awesome in this movie and Hollywood needs more of this guy. I liked what he brought to the role and he has one of the coolest deaths in the film. Bound to spark argument, I am no a fan of Lost. I think J.J. Abrams is a terrific filmmaker but also a wizard when it comes to duping people into watching something like mindless zombies. Lost equals the carrot on a stick Abrams held in front of the American public for years before he could get his hands onto bigger and better things. I watched three seasons of it and to this day consider every hour of every episode I watch wasted and spitefully hold a grudge for the time I lost. I have had people argue with me about the show till they were blue in the face but as I am to understand the ending was just as vague as everything else on the show. You don’t put f-ing polar bears in the jungle and make the audience wonder why for years with no reason why, motherf-ing YEARS! My question to anybody is, “how is that good enough for you?” To this day I am still puzzled by the people who talk about how great it was. Nevertheless I consider J.J. Abrams to be quite capable and look forward to what he does with Star Wars.

NEXT MOVIE: Platoon (1986)

Chris Pratt as Indiana Jones

I have heard the news that there is a potential reboot of the Indiana Jones franchise with Chris Pratt in the key role. I have also heard that Steven Spielberg is interested in continuing the franchise. Despite what he did the last time around I will always be excited with what Spielberg is able to continue doing with the character.

I think that Chris Pratt is an incredibly likable actor and I am under the impression he can do absolutely anything and it will be good. He was terrific in Guardians of the Galaxyso good in fact I can’t wait to see his next movie Jurassic World. I think he would be an excellent choice if a reboot was in order for this franchise but I think a reboot is a horrible idea.

The reboot has been far too played out. I don’t think they should cast him as Indiana Jones but as a new character to carry on the franchise. We saw Shia LaBeouf as Indy’s illegitimate son Mutt in the last Indiana Jones film. I think it’s safe to say nobody is interested in where that story goes. Mutt was lame and Shia LaBeouf has proven to be quite the odd ball in the last couple years. Why not continue the story with a better idea and another old man Indy adventure. Make Chris Pratt a different illegitimate son and one that proves to be more capable of carrying on his father’s legacy.

If you give the matter some consideration it would be easy. Indy was bound to have fathered many children all over the world and it would be cool to see an even older Harrison Ford put the hat back on and swing the whip. No reason to even mention Marion Ravenwood or Mutt Williams in any continuation. True Indiana Jones fashion in fact because he never had the same woman around come the next film. Why not do something similar with his son? Make Chris Pratt the son of Kate Capshaw’s Willie. Chris Pratt would be awesome acting side by side with Harrison Ford and they could do something great that would erase that last installment from our minds.

Disney now has control of the franchise and George Lucas can’t ruin it with aliens of otherwise bad ideas in general. If nothing else Disney has proven to be smart and capable of doing great things. I have no doubt that whatever they do will be awesome but I hope they bring back Spielberg and the real Indiana. Harrison Ford has returned already to one franchise that Disney has brought back to life, why not another?

Just a thought I had, wishful thinking on a Sunday evening.

Planet of the Apes

Year: 1968
Directed By: Franklin J. Schaffner
Written By: Michael Wilson and Rod Sterling (screenplay) Pierre Boulle (novel)

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is such a powerful movie. It’s coming up on a 60th anniversary in a couple of years and still has the power to blow us away. To maintain iconic status for such a long time is impressive. Despite the greatest effort and all the advancements in special effect they weren’t able to even come close to this film with a remake. Even the new franchise that took its name is simply living off the success of this film. The new Planet of the Apes franchise is really good and we will cover it in time but it still only stands in the shadow of this movie. In the pre-Star Wars era this was the greatest science fiction movie of all time. It came out the same year as the equally inventive Stanley Kubrick film 2001: A Space Odessey but this movie didn’t require an altered state of mind to sit through. That easily gives this movie the edge and even after special effects took hold of the genre this movie still stands tall among everything that came out after.

What made this movie great was that it was bold. It was more than the average movie made simply to entertain because this one sent a message, it had a purpose. This movie both subtly and seriously sent messages about humanity and the problems developing at the time that threatened not only society but the world in general. This movie made strong statements about  racism, animal cruelty, evolution, and the insane doctrine of mutually assured destruction. In the ape society there are clear class differences between chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans.  Zira and Cornelius are looked down upon not only for being chimps but also for being proponents of evolution. An idea that threatens the word of the almighty ape creator and the very foundation of ape law which all apes live by. The whole society is built upon the principles of ape law and anything that contradicts it is heavily scrutinized by the powers that be. There is a lot of secrecy within the ape society and the most powerful orangutan, Dr. Zaius, harbors all the information. When Taylor pops up his presence alone has the potential to spawn unwanted questions that can unbalance the entire order of the ape society.

The treatment of humans in this film is no different than the common treatment of animals hunted and kept captive at the time and even now in some cases. The role reversal that has humans on the receiving end of that kind of treatment was a bold statement by this movie in 1968. Seeing apes pose for pictures with smiles and faces of pride while standing over the bodies of dead men and women is both ironic and eerily unnerving.  This movie offers a very interesting look at a society in which humans are truly the lowest form of creature. It’s meant to be humbling I think, as arrogance is such a weakness for man in general. It was ultimately arrogance that even led to the circumstances in which the world has turned upside down when Taylor comes back to it.

Has there ever been a more insane idea than the MAD doctrine? The idea of mutually assured destruction seems so crazy it’s hard to believe that it was ever taken so seriously but it was. It is a lesson in history about the dangers of power and how it can manipulate men. Man finally finds the capability to destroy not only his enemy but everything there is. So in the event the enemy is able to strike first we can at least strike back and make sure we don’t lose. We can’t lose if there is nobody left to win. It’s absolutely frightening to think that the powers that be would ever be so foolish as to play games where the lives of every creature on the planet hung in the balance but they did. The world was a dangerous place when men built super weapons and pointed them at one another. Too often for anybody to be comfortable with there were times when things got so bad there was a man on each side holding his finger just over the button waiting for the GO order. That reality makes the big twist at the end of this movie all the more hard hitting and iconic. When Taylor is faced with the reality of where he is and what had to have happened he damns the men who made it happen. It’s one of the most memorable scenes of all time and Charlton Heston nailed it.

When I was growing up in the 90’s Charlton Heston was an actor of legendary status and even at the youngest of ages I knew him by name and reputation. I had seen this movie at a really young age and I remember so vividly my mom explaining it to me one day. Why the world would have been blown up and all kinds of other questions only a young kid could come up with. Something about those talks and this movie stuck with me from a very young age but the point is that I knew Heston from that part at a young age. As I got older in the mid 90’s I remember always noticing him in movies and how no matter how small the part his name was billed in the early credits. As if his presence alone gave the film another level of credibility. The two films that come to mind immediately are True/Lies and Tombstone. Nevertheless, Charlton Heston was bigger than any part he ever played. His role in this movie was great and he is, as much as so many other reasons, a big part of why this movie is still relevant today. Heston was more than Taylor though. He was Moses, Ben Hur, he was the freaking NRA, he was a lifetime of achievement that everyone took note of.

I have no strong opinions about the ownership of guns and I have no opinion as to the position of Heston as the President of the NRA organization. His “cold dead hands” speech will live on forever but it matters little to me as I don’t take much position in the matter. I was a fan of Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine but even with everything I liked about that movie I was always bothered by what Moore did to Charlton Heston. He made the man look bad because he was trying to be a zealous political ass and it was such a disrespectful and shameful thing to do. If I’m not mistaken Heston was in the early stages of Alzheimers at the time. He shouldn’t have been put in that position and Michael Moore should be ashamed of himself, gun ownership is bigger than one man and even an organization as large as the NRA, it was a pointless attack. Moore has got himself in the news again with shameful comments in regard to the recently released American Sniper. Specifically, from what I have been told, he called snipers cowards. I don’t mean to go off on a tangent here but I find that comment so offensive I need to speak my mind on it. Nobody has any business calling any man who serves our country in the armed forces cowards. Aside from that, there is nothing cowardly about a sniper. Snipers are skilled operatives strategically placed as part of all battle plans. As long as there have been ranged weapons there have been soldiers skilled enough at marksmenship to be utilized in key locations by their commanders. To call them cowards is foolish, but for any lazy ass American who has all the freedom in the world at his disposal to say anything negative about the men and women who fight and die for those rights is foolish enough all by itself.

This movie made strides in the capabilities of make up artist and production designers. It was inventive and incredible what they were able to accomplish in 1968 when making a movie set on a planet ruled by walking and talking apes. It’s easy to look back now with all the capabilities that are at the disposal of filmmakers today and think they could do this better now. It’s a fool’s notion and they should never try. I’ll get to the “rebooted” franchise when we reach it in the “R” section of the collection. There is a significant reason why it is apart from this film in the order of the DVDs on our shelf and I’ll cover that when we get to it. We do not own the 2001 remake by Tim Burton, because it sucked mainly. For a long time it was the film that represented to me as a film fan the possibility that anything could be an absolute disappointment.

I thought the 2001 remake of this movie was going to be one of the most awesome movies I had ever seen. I was a big fan of Tim Burton and excited about the darkness he would bring to it. I eagerly kept up with all the news coming out of production and all images of the apes looked incredible. They had a stellar cast all around and even got Charlton Heston himself on board for a cameo. I was so pumped about this movie I forced my family to the theater on the week it was released when we happened to be out of state on a family vacation. I’ll never forget how adamant my step father was against going to a theater while on a beach trip, but on a rainy day I somehow talked them into all of us going. I’ll never forget the complete and utter disappointment I felt after walking out of that theater. So much was wrong and I was all alone in the understanding. The rest of my family just saw a crappy remake but I saw so much more than that. I saw something that could have so easily been the greatest thing ever and couldn’t figure out how the finale product was such a failure in every possible way. How had Tim Burton failed me so? In fact this movie was the beginning of a long anti-Tim Burton period of my life. He has finally won me back around these days but he really let me down in 2001 and for a long time after I shunned him.

My whole point to all of that is that the remake in no way, shape, or form matched up to the original film in any manner. The movie may have looked good but everything about it was wrong and it doesn’t even come close to what was accomplished 33 years before. Some things shouldn’t be touched. Some movies are perfect just the way they are and more often than not the efforts to remake any film do nothing but tarnish the name and reputation of the original.

I have read the book this movie was based on. There were different things in both the original and the remake that came from the book in separate scenarios. Neither is any closer than the other really because both took plenty of liberties with the story to adapt it to the screen. I liked the novel by Pierre Boulle but ultimately it’s hard to like it more than the original version of the story I saw in this film. In the book “Planet of the Apes” the Taylor character, named Ulysses, makes it back to Earth in the end only to find it is now run by apes. The entire story of his travels begins as being read aloud by space travelers who have found the tale floating through space in a glass bottle. At the end of the story the narrators dismiss it as fake because a human could never be capable of such, the readers turn out to be chimps. It’s a good story with an interesting twist, but I think the much different twist at the end of this film is just as good and even more shocking.

We don’t own any of the sequels to this film but it’s a series we would normally have all the films to for appearance purposes if nothing else. I remembered liking Beneath the Planet of the Apes and Escape from Planet of the Apes. The fourth and fifth weren’t bad either as both continued an interesting story. I liked this franchise quite a bit but this one is the best of the bunch and I’m proud to have it as part of our collection.

It is meaningless for me to put my stamp of approval on this movie. It is above me and there is nothing I could ever say that hasn’t been said by the countless others this film influenced. I consider this one of the greatest science fiction films ever made and everyone should see it. This movie will live on as long as film history is still relevant.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Pending, so she says.

NEXT MOVIE: Planet Terror (2007)

Pitch Black

Year: 2000
Directed By: David Twohy
Written By: Jim and Ken Wheat, and David Twohy

RYAN’S REVIEW

There was a time before The Fast and the Furious when Vin Diesel had potential to be a good actor. We saw it in Saving Private Ryan and we saw it in this film. Somewhere in the years that followed I think his image went to his head too much. Take the Riddick character for example, he’s much more down to Earth in this movie. Not the “I’m going to kill you with this teacup” Riddick we see in the post-Fast and Furious/XXX franchises sequel to this movie. Somewhere along the line he got too cool for school and it went to his head. The guy started trying too hard and it showed on screen. I haven’t seen the last few sequels to Fast and the Furious and while I hear that they are good I refuse to give them my time. Despite that I have seen enough of Diesel’s work to suffice for my standing opinion. He wasn’t bad back when this movie came out, when he was humble and just getting his career started. Once his persona went to his head he became just another meat head actor. No different than your typical pro wrestler turned actor who can’t branch out of the action and family comedy genres.

While Riddick ultimately becomes the anti-hero in this movie he is hardly the star for much of the film. This works to Vin Diesel’s advantage in this movie. I like the Riddick character and even though Diesel’s performance in The Chronicles of Riddick was much different I still enjoyed that film. Although this film often looks like a cheap made for TV movie you would find on the Sci-Fi channel (I know it’s SyFy now but that still doesn’t make sense to me) it still has a cool story. It made the most of a limited budget and its lack of funding didn’t hurt the movie too much.

This movie does a bit of a balancing act between the genres of horror and science fiction. I have always considered the film to be the latter because it follows into a sequel with zero horror elements within it. There are parts of this movie that can easily qualify it as horror but not enough to sway my opinion. There may be some mega fans out there that want to compare this series to the Alien franchise because of the similarities but that would be a mistake. Maybe the first film of the series in each both feature aliens and a horror/sci-fi genre but that’s as far as any similarity goes. Riddick isn’t that big. In fact I had looked forward to the third film for years but when I read the synopsis that all changed. When I read that they weren’t carrying on the story the second film ended with and instead more or less doing this film again I was really disappointed. So disappointed that I still to this day haven’t seen the latest film and don’t intend to. If anybody out there really feels it was worth something let me know and I’ll reconsider.

I like Riddick. I liked this movie and despite Vin Diesel butchering the character the second time around I liked him in the sequel too. It’s the combination of Diesel’s current persona on screen and the lack of what I perceived to be good story that I haven’t watched the lastest installment. If I want to see Riddick battling monsters and mercenaries I’ll watch this one. I think seeing that in a third film is pointless. The second movie ends with Riddick in position to take over an empire and that was what ultimately gave me hope for the future of the franchise. Instead, as I see it, the franchise took a step backwards instead of moving forward with a story that had a lot of potential. I am aware I could be wrong about this given I didn’t watch the movie. If anybody reading this has seen Riddick and wants to set the record straight leave a comment and let me know if it was any good.

As for this film I’ll stand by it any day of the week. I watched it when it first came out and specifically remember it catching me off guard when I found myself getting into it. It was never one I intended to add to our collection but I really liked the second film despite the campy crap that brought it down. I may have never bought this movie had it not been for the sequel but I think it is still worth your time. It can be hard to make a good sci-fi movie without rehashing old themes but occasionally one can set itself apart from others. I think this movie does do that and I think it is a good movie for the genre.

NEXT MOVIE: Planes, Trains, &  Automobiles (1987) 

Pineapple Express

Year: 2008
Directed By: David Gordon Green
Written By: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, and Judd Apatow

RYAN’S REVIEW

I gotta be honest. This movie gets lost on me more and more the older I get. It’s occurred to us far too many times throughout this journey through the blog that we own too many movies of this kind. In fact we own so many pothead movies I have half a mind to start a new category and call it “college years” or something along those lines. This many in the collection gives the wrong impression of who we are. I’m a firm believer that a person’s movie collection says something about the person in general. Movies like this certainly say the wrong thing about us, but they are what they are and they are all here for a reason. If serving no other purpose than reminding us of the good ol days these movies all have their place in our collection.

I think this movie is really funny although a bit too much like an accidental sequel to Superbad. This group of guys has an ever growing reputation in the movie industry and it’s fun to see them doing their thing. I do feel like it should have stopped with this movie though. Enough is enough guys, you are better than reliving this pipe dream over and over again. I think this is a funny movie and I love it, but when it has come to the collaborations of James Franco and Seth Rogen since I am more and more not into it. I thought This is the End was cool, but it was a bit too much at the same time.  Things got so crazy with The Interview but I remember long before there was a controversy thinking: “again? come on guys.” I have yet to see The Interview, but I will because I think every American should see it just to spite the North Korean leader. I’m sure when I see it I will laugh but I think both of these guys are too good to waste their talent being silly in the same dynamic as before.

I love all the guys that are in this movie. In fact when This is the End was coming out I remember being so excited and thinking that it was a genius idea. It seemed like there was no way it wouldn’t be the funniest thing I had ever seen until I saw practically the same thing done by Simon Pegg and company in The World’s End and it was hands down funnier. What Simon Pegg did was not just funnier but a lot better than the movie these guys made about getting hammered as the world came to a close around them. That was a disappointment to me personally because I think these guys are better than that, as great as Pegg and his posse are, I expected more than simple pot head circle ideas from these guys.

I referred to this as an accidental sequel to Superbad but that’s not really true. It only feels that way to me because these movies came out so close to one another and were made by Judd Apatow, Evan Goldberg, and Seth Rogen. Like Superbad this movie too is a story of two friends with a third odd ball tie in friend. They both feature the same type of comedy and Seth Rogen in a significant roll. There are also several other correlating actors in both films.  They are very different stories but I’ll never shake the feeling of continuity between these two movies.

I think Danny McBride is a really funny guy. He has a weird sense of humor and it’s not always for me but I like it more often than not. I specifically like his part in this movie and I think he is hilarious as the best/worst friend a guy could possibly have. His fight with Rogen and Franco is epic and awesome. He has the strangest demeanor about him and he can be so funny when he gets into character. Everybody brings something funny to this movie but Danny McBride stands out among the rest.

Craig Robinson and Kevin Corrigan have great chemistry as the two hit men just going about their jobs. Their parts seem similar to the parts played by Bill Hader and Seth Rogen in Superbad. Hader incidentally has a great cameo at the beginning of this film. Also playing a small role is a pre-Hangover Ken Jeong. I’m a big fan of Jeong, he plays a really small part in this movie and he doesn’t partake in any of the comedy, but I like seeing him in this all the same. He has done much better for himself in the years that followed this movie.

This is a silly movie and if you are still in the age range to enjoy it then this is certainly the movie for you. There are plenty of movies like this that really take me back but this one doesn’t really get me like that as the others do. This movie came out as that window in life was closing and the eye of responsibility had already squarely fixed its gaze on me. I was still young enough to really appreciate this one then but today I find myself identifying with Ed Begley Jr. more than anybody else. That is a scary realization in itself. I think this movie is worth your time but watch at your own discretion. Depending on your age and stance in life this movie can be perceived in a variety of ways ranging from really funny to really stupid.

NEXT MOVIE: Pitch Black (2000)