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Tuesday, July 18, 2017


Last week I couldn't believe I went to see Spider Man #6.  The redeeming virtue was that I also saw Baby Driver, which was a worthy new film.  I hate sequels, but somehow found my way into Planet of the Apes #8 this weekend.  Again, though, there was a second movie, The Big Sick.

Can you believe the first Planet of the Apes, called by that title, was almost 50 years ago, in 1968?  Remember Charlton Heston?  He was one of the returning astronauts.  Rotten Tomatoes reviewers gave the production a 90 rating, with the audience score at 87.  

In these films, the roles are reversed, as the apes are smarter and in charge, or, at least you would tend to cheer for them over us Homo sapiens.  Unlike Star Wars, no character repeats in the PotA series.

There is a newish term called re-boot, where sequels are repeated.  There were four sequels to the 1968 PofA.  Then in 2011 began a trio, with the latest being War for the Planet of the Apes.  Why do they keep doing this?  Simple.  For a combined budget of a little more than half a billion dollars, the franchise has grossed over $1.7 billion.   Revenues from foreign box offices more than double the domestic earnings. Then there are the books, video games, toys, etc.

This all started with a 1963 novel by Pierre Boulle of France, La Planete des Singes.  I took French and know that the word singes is monkeys in English.  He also wrote The Bridge Over the River Kwai.  He was a French spy in Singapore and became a Japanese prisoner for two years, working on the Death Railway.  He actually won an Oscar for that movie, for Best Adapted Screenplay, and is said to have given the shortest acceptance speech in Academy Award history:  Merci.  However, his name was inserted because the screenwriters had been blacklisted as communist sympathizers.

Here are the two this past weekend:

                                   Rotten Tomatoes            My Grade
                              Reviewers  Audiences

War for the PotA        95              88                   B-

The Big Sick               97             92                   A-

WftPotA was dark and noisy, with sound acting by the apes, led by Andy Serkis as Caesar, the leader of the simian group.  Woody Harrelson, who was once this hick who never quite fit into Cheers, has become a pretty good human villain.  His father was a hitman who killed a judge and died in prison.  In real life.  Woody stars in The Glass Castle, opening next month.  A rather high 92% of potential customers want to see this film, according to Rotten Tomatoes.  Of course, there will be a #9 PotA, and #10, plus probably more.

This summer has been unusual in that many of the top films are very highly rated by Rotten Tomatoes.  WftPotA is #3, Baby Driver is #2 and #1:  with a 97 by reviewers, is The Big Sick.  Written by Kumail Nanjiani and his wife, Emily Gordon, the movie stars Nanjiani, for this is his true life story of an interracial (Pakistani and American White) romance.  He left Karachi at the age of 18 and graduated from Grinnell College with a double major in computer science and philosophy.  He will be in five films this year!

Good acting with two familiar names, the parents of the Emily Gordon character, Holly Hunter and Ray Romano (below right with Kazan).  I won't say much more but can encourage you to go see it.  Just when you thought you could predict something would happen, nope, something else occurs.

Happy ending?  Well, they did end up writing the book together.  To the left above, Zoe Kazan who plays the wife, Kumail and Emily.  Zoe's grandfather was the noted Broadway and Hollywood director, Elia Kazan.

Hurricane Fernanda, now down to 100 MPH, is continuing to weaken, but there are two more potential hurricanes behind her, all headed for Hawaii:


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