Another Hole in the Head Film Festival Review: “Revision of the Planet of the Apes” - More Fun Than a Barrel Full of Monkeys?
Some time back I watched the original Planet of the Apes re-edited to look like it was an episode of The Twilight Zone. Most likely due to the fact that Rod Serling played a huge part in adapting Pierre Boulle's 1963 novel, this re-edit works to near perfection. Taking a movie that runs more than 90 minutes and whittling it down to 20-some minutes AND having it still tell a coherent story is certainly an accomplishment. So imagine my curiosity when I heard that someone had taken the original PotA pentalogy and edited it down to one almost 90 minute movie. I had to see this!
Unbeknownst to me, the mastermind behind this undertaking, Jorge Torres-Torres, already had some of these re-edits under his belt. Stories like Death Wish, Friday the 13th, and Phantasm (to name a few) have all been re-cut, shuffled, and pasted back together to present tales we all knew, but in a slightly different way. It sounds fun, but… does it work?
In the case of Revision of the Planet of the Apes, it does - to a point.
Gone is almost all of the character and world building. Anyone who has seen the original films will remember enough that this isn’t a problem, and a fair amount of the excised material is explained via exposition. The fact that each movie had a “Previously on…” type of recap at some point more than likely helped as it undoubtedly made it a little easier to figure out what could be cut. So while some characters are totally erased, most of those that remain get enough presentation to afford the viewer a glimpse into who they are. However, is this enough for a non-PotA fan? Someone else will have to be the judge of that.
What we are left with is, aside from some stuff served up as flashbacks, pretty much a chronological presentation of the films. Since the films weren’t all written as one sprawling epic, there was a good chance that there would be some obvious story telling flaws, but Torres-Torres hides any potential contradictions with his choice of scenes. There are a few gaps in the flow of things and what seem like some lapses in judgement by characters, however - once again - fans of the movies may not notice, or care, because their memories of the films may fill in any blanks but newcomers may be a bit perplexed.
The only real complaint I have are the few times that Torres-Torres adds something of his own which tonally kneecaps what is a pretty serious story. There’s a cartoony “splat” noise when someone falls from a height of more than a few feet, and a very out-of-place use of George Michael’s song “Monkey” from his 1987 “Faith” album. I’m not sure what effect these additions were hoped to achieve, but they were quite distracting and really took me out of the flow of the movie.