Tag Archives: reboot

Something Something of the Planet of the Apes

Ah the reboot, the Hollywood method of pumping new life and new revenue from an existing intellectual property. A way  of turning each franchise into a choose-your-own adventure story. In many ways and though to far less profit, it is what we have done recently here at The Cool Ship.

Image property of 20th Century Fox

Image property of 20th Century Fox

The Planet of the Apes was an absolute revolution when it first hit theaters in 1968. The film boasted the largest FX budget of the time and the sweet baritone of future NRA president, and the guy who seems to love screaming at the end of sci-fi movies, Charlton Heston. The film also starred Roddy McDowall as a frightening realistic (at least for the time) talking ape.

The film is about a team of astronauts who crash land on what they think is an alien planet, but turns out to be the Earth in a distant future. In this future, apes have evolved beyond men while man as we know him has experienced a sort of devolution and has been enslaved. The movie’s beautiful climax when Heston’s character enters “the forbidden zone” and discovers the remains of the statue of liberty is one of the most heartbreaking on celluloid. Planet of the Apes grossed very well for the time.

From that moment forward, for about 10 years, a Planet of the Apes sequel was released bi-yearly, each with an even more ridiculously long title ; Beneath The Planet of the Apes, Battle for the Planet of the Apes, Escape from the Planet of the Apes, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, Stop The Planet of the Apes I Wanna Get Off the musical. That last one was a joke… and not even my joke… it’s from the Simpsons.

Image property of Fox television

Image property of Fox television

The Planet of the Apes sequels are all horrible. I know The Planet of the Apes sequels were awful because they only cost about $4 on Blu Ray… for all of them. That’s roughly 80 cents per film. The original film is available in a standalone Blu ray for $16, or you can get a boxed set of the entire series for $20. I could cite any number of reasons, from decreased budget to watered down scripts to less interesting actors for the shift in quality, but I think you get the idea. I won’t even go into the 2001 reboot except to say that Mark Wahlberg is a pretty poor substitute for Charlton Heston (keep in mind this is 2001 Marky Mark), and the final scene posed questions that could only be answered in a sequel that never came.

image property of 20th Century Fox

image property of 20th Century Fox

2011’s Rise of the Planet of The Apes has taken us back to where it all began. It attempts to answer the question that no one was asking; “how did those apes get so smart, and the humans so dumb”.  The CGI is like nothing ever seen before and as an action movie it does pretty well.

James Franco is a scientist (still with me?) testing a drug meant to reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s in humans on chimpanzees. The tests are shut down when one of the apes goes… oh I can’t help myself … Ape S@#! and cause the entire lot to be destroyed. Franco smuggles one infant chimp out of the lab. The chimp called Caesar is crazy smart due to the Alzheimer’s drug passing from his mother. Caesar ultimately is responsible for giving “rise”, if you will, to The Planet of the Apes.  You can see where this is headed, right?  All and all a fine if unnecessary film addition to an incredibly overworked concept. However, it is successful in showing a logical path to the world we were exposed to in the original film.  The most amazing thing about this movie and the coming sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is Andy Serkis as Caesar. His movements are recorded by a state-of-the-art suit and transcribed for CGI. This setup makes for a most believable sentient monkey. Has he ever been in a movie? As a person?   Serkis achieves what took Roddy McDowall hours of make-up in the original.

I look forward to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes with cautious optimism: we may yet get the follow-up film we have been waiting for since 1968, or we may just as likely get another 80 cent sequel.

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The Problem with Power Rangers (or, How About a Mighty Morphin’ Retcon?)

Let me preface by saying that I am almost 31 years old and I am still a fan of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and have been since the day they premiered in America. I’m not ashamed to admit it.

Notice I said the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, not just Power Rangers. I prefer the originals (US originals, I haven’t seen much of the Japanese originals to properly judge). I haven’t been a fan of most of the other variations starting with Lost Galaxy. Although I wasn’t a big fan of Turbo because they replaced Rocky with a little kid (that little twerp pissed me off to no avail), but In Space wasn’t too awful. Tommy was always my favorite character, so after he left it pretty much stopped caring.

With every new series, the luster of the show faded more and more. It became quite uninteresting. Maybe it was because I was growing older and the show was geared more towards the younger generations, or maybe it had something to do with the fact that I felt like each new series was just a regurgitated version of the original. Just a copy of a copy of copy (and so on), each one weaker than the last. It could have something to do with the acting getting worse each time. I’m not saying that the original series was worthy of an Emmy or anything, but the acting in it was 10 times better than any in the later incarnations.

I’ve seen part of an episode of the new Power Rangers Samurai and it wasn’t half bad. I can’t say that it’s anything fantastic, having only watched like 5 minutes of it, but just in that brief viewing time it seemed to be an improvement from all the post-Turbo Rangers. Still, not enough to make me a regular viewer. They’re still marketed towards a younger crowd (preteen/teen), even though most teens nowadays are more interested in other things (Twilight, Hunger Games, etc.). Their target audience should actually be the people that were tweens/teens when the show first premiered. They were there at the start and some are still there but there yearning for something more. I know I am. A grown-up revamping is in order to breathe some new life into the series.

Hey, Haim Saban….hit the restart button and let’s get this show on the road!

Here are some suggestions for an upgrade:

1. Make it prime time. That’s right…Prime time. Turn it into an hourly action/sci-fi/drama and air it at night. I’m thinking the Syfy Channel might be a good place for it. They haven’t had the greatest history of quality shows in the past but they’ve gotten a lot better in the past decade. Battlestar Gallactica, Haven, Being Human, Alphas, Eureka, and Warehouse 13 are proof of that. And airing it during evening hours gives the show the opportunity to go beyond being a kid’s show and offer something more for the older crowd.

2. Blood. But not just blood. Bruises, cuts, scars, broken limbs…ya know, realistic battle damage. Make them look like they’ve actually been in a fight, not like they’ve been roughed a bit and got a little dirty. And cut out the sparks and flipping backwards. Take a hit like you’ve actually taken a hit.

Armored, movie Rangers [image source: moviepicturedb.com]

Armored, movie Rangers [image source: moviepicturedb.com]

3. Armor up. Remember how badass they looked in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie. They looked like they were wearing armor. That’s what they need, armor. No more spandex and motorcycle helmets. Sleek and redesigned with optimal mobility, kinda like Batman’s new suit in The Dark Knight.

4. CGI the big guys. Take away the stuntmen in rubber monster suits and Megazord costumes, throw away the cardboard cities, hire a highly talented CGI team, and make the colossal battles look awesome. I’m not saying they need to be Transformers or Pacific Rim quality graphics but something at least 3 or 4 times better than the CGI in MMPR: The Movie would be nice.

5. Fire the old writers. Hire a quality writing team and explain to them that they’re not writing for kids. They’re writing for the grown-up kids. Tell them to make it “realistic,” or as “realistic as you can get for the Power Rangers. No more cheesy dialogue, no more lame plots. Just solid character development and enthralling stories. Think Joss Whedon meets Zack Snyder meets Steven Moffat.

This is a no-no. Nix the floating head.

This is a no-no. Nix the floating head.

6. No floating heads and annoying little robots. Make Zordon more of a Dumbledore/Yoda/Master Splinter/Professor X character. A mentor and a teacher with a body, not just a floating head in a giant test tube. Show him training the Rangers to use their powers, even fighting along side them at times. Give Alpha 5 the “J.A.R.V.I.S.” treatment like they did in Iron Man. If not AI, than maybe something like an android like Data, not like C3PO.

I think all of these ideas would be a great start to rebooting the series. There are certainly other things that would need some tweaking (Putties, main villains, weapons, finding a  place in the series for Jason David Frank and Johnny Yong Bosch, etc.) but these would be the main areas to start with.

A retcon is long overdue and much needed. I’d like to enjoy watching MMPR again and making some new memories with them, not just reliving the old ones. Let’s make this happen, Haim Saban.

And for your viewing pleasure:

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Mockingbird Lane

The new Munsters. (source: huffingtonpost.com)

(I’m gonna try not to give away too much, but there might be a few SPOILERS.) 

Mockingbird Lane, it’s The Munsters remake.

So, let’s just say that I’ve been waiting for this remake for a while now and was quite worried that it might not make it onto the small screen. It was originally intended to be a series, but NBC made a last minute decision to pass on it. However, thanks to some persuasive tactics on the part of Bryan Singer (X-Men, X2: X-Men United) and Bryan Fuller (Pushing Daisies, Wonderfalls), they managed to get the pilot run as a Halloween special in the hopes of getting the series green-lit.

Hopefully, it works!

The pilot starts off with a scout troup sitting around a fire during a camping trip, when suddenly, they’re attacked by a “baby bear,” which turns out to be a werewolf. They manage to escape to the safety of the scout master’s truck, where they wait until morning.

The next morning, one boy asks “Where’s Eddie Munster?”

Shortly after, Eddie (Mason Cook) appears from behind a bush, with no memory of the events from the night before. From there, the rest of the family is introduced.

Thanks to Eddie’s werewolf incident, the Munsters have to move. While real estate hunting, Marilyn (Charity Wakefield) discovers their new home at the legendary 1313 Mockingbird Lane. Shortly after the acquisition of the new home, Herman (Jerry O’Connell) shows up to inspect the new home. There’s even a clever throwback to the original Herman’s square head. When night arrives, Grandpa (Eddie Izzard) and Lily (Portia de Rossi) are delivered in crates, rounding out the not quite normal family.

Just like the original show, the family knows what they are…all except for Eddie. He thinks he’s normal like Marilyn and doesn’t know that he’s actually a werewolf. The pilot partially revolves around how the family will tell Eddie about who or what he is. There’s a bit of a family power struggle between Herman and Grandpa, involving who will tell him and how they’ll tell him. It’s a deciding factor in their struggle to be head of the household, which is the other plot point.

Marilyn and Grandpa visit the neighbors. [source: latimes.com]

Grandpa seems to be the focus of the show instead of just a secondary character, which is perfect because Grandpa is played by the incomparable Eddie Izzard. Quite possibly the most excellent casting choice made for this, I must say! He plays the part in a darkly cynical and humorously sadistic manner, seeming to fit perfectly in the role. All of the best one-liners from the show come from him. If you’re a fan of Eddie Izzard, you don’t want to miss this.

The one person I was worried about was Jerry O’Connell. I had my doubts about him being cast as Herman, but he won me over. He wasn’t dopey and bumbling like the original, which was a good choice for this remake. He played the part more as the charming, caring, slightly goofy sitcom father, and I think that’s what swayed me. I take back the doubts I had about him.

Portia de Rossi and the rest round out the cast quite nicely and put a very interesting spin on these old favorites.

Lily Munster and some unorthodox fashion designers. [source: joblo.com]

The special effects weren’t overdone just for flashy spectacle; everything fit nicely. Grandpa’s initial transformation from a large group of rats into his undead form and his giant bat-like form, Lily forming from smoke into herself and spiders dropping down to form a dress of webs around her, as well as the first and only appearance of Eddie’s faithful pet dragon, they all looked and worked beautifully. The story was solid, an edgier and darker twist on the original without losing any charm or humor.

This wasn’t The Munsters of yore. This was The Munsters for a new era, and one I hope is ushered in quite swiftly by NBC, because the pilot felt like the story was unfinished and left me wanting more. I mean, it is and I do, which is what a good pilot is supposed to do…leave you wanting more.

This is just the setup, reintroducing us to The Munsters, and the story needs to be continued, so we can get to know the “new” family on the block. But, if this is what NBC is going to leave us with, I’m going to be saddened and disappointed for quite some time.

At least until Bryan Fuller’s next project.

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