How To Conquer A Relaunch Of PLANET OF THE APES

Some days I wonder if there is any really interesting film news out there that isn’t about yet another classic film being set up for a remake by a clueless studio. But last week, we reported on two such projects- remakes of Akira Kurosawa’s High And Low and the 1956 science-fiction classic Forbidden Planet – that both sounded fairly promising.

Now comes word of a Planet Of The Apes relaunch over at 20th century Fox, that sounds pretty exciting as well. Rather than just try to remake the initial film in the series – and fail, like Tim Burton’s 2002 remake did in trying to recreate the 1968 original’s shocking twist ending – the studio is looking at a remake of the Apes series’ fourth film, 1972’s Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes.

According to the folks over at CHUD, scripters Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver have submitted a screenplay entitled Genesis: Apes, which reimages Conquest‘s original storyline in a dark and edgy way. In the original film, set in the futuristic year of 1991, Caeser (Roddy McDowall), the son of the two apes who had traveled back in time to the 1970s in the series’ previous entry Escape From The Planet Of The Apes, winds up leading a revolt of apes against the the totalitarian government who has kept them slaves. To further hammer the theme of the film home, director J. Lee Thompson modeled the film’s violent finale on the recent Watts Riots.

But Genesis: Apes takes a slightly different, but definitely intriguing, direction with its story. First off, it is set in modern times. This film’s version of Caeser came about due to a scientist’s meddling with chimpanzee DNA. Once he discovers that the chimp can talk, he takes him home to be raised by his wife, who is unable to bare children of her own. Several years later, his adoptive mother is attacked and in the act of protecting her, accidentally kills her assailant. He is then taken to labs where, although he is as sentient as a human, he is tortured and experimented on. Although initially rejected by the other apes at the laboratory, he eventually inspires them to revolt and overthrow human society.

Of course, such an edgy concept is probably why the project is just sitting at Fox. Where the original distanced itself from its audience by a fictional two decades during which a fascist government came to power, this new version establishes no such dramatic gulf. It is set in the present and the torture of thinking beings that some would like to consider nothing more than animals may present a disturbing political parallel. As CHUD’s Devin Faraci states, “You just can’t have your hero working to tear down our modern society.”

And that’s a damn shame because this take on the material sounds exciting and fresh. This is the kind of bold and inventive vision for a remake that is unfortunately the exception that proves the rule in these situations. This is the type of remake I could get behind, if only the studios would have the courage to make them.

(And of course, if anyone just so happens to have a copy of the script, the contact us button is over on the right.)

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About Rich Drees 7193 Articles
A film fan since he first saw that Rebel Blockade Runner fleeing the massive Imperial Star Destroyer at the tender age of 8 and a veteran freelance journalist with twenty-five years experience writing about film and pop culture. He is a member of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle.
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