August 3rd, 2020 (Civic Holiday)

On Crave I caught quite by accident the sci-fi, B-movie thriller (?) entitled Upgrade.  It stars the male lead scientist from Prometheus, Logan Marshall-Green who in that better movie had the misfortune of slighting Michael Fassbender’s David.   Funny I can’t remember the last time I actually said the term “B-movie” but it is appropriate here.  This movie carries themes like other similar films like Ex Machina, where an uber-wealthy techno-geek is looking to have huge strides with tech and people, and 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Matrix, Avatar and Alien, with a computer intelligence that is looking to expand its impact and ultimate influence.  This takes the form, typically, of a machine with a hidden agenda.  By the way, it flatters this movie greatly to be even mentioned alongside those better films.  In this tale our married protagonist is driven by a self-driving car to a bad part of town where thugs kill his wife, and leave him for dead.   He wakes up a quadriplegic, but is offered by the Wile E Coyote-like Super Genius use of his limbs once again if he only has a superchip implanted into his spine.   The computer will take care of his limbs once again.   The hero decides to move forward and wants to track down and take revenge on his attackers.   He finds that the underlying plot is more complicated than first anticipated.  The story unfolds.   There are some laughable elements for example when the hero gives up primary responsibility for his actions and there is this disjointed walking and inhuman ability to fight in hand to hand combat.   But overall it is tiresome and I cannot recommend it.    There is a reason why some movies are straight-to-video/streaming.  This is a good example of it.

I was realizing yesterday that another series of movies that I haven’t reviewed in this blog is the original 1968 Charlton Heston Planet of the Apes.  It an original set of five films (Beneath POTA, Escape from POTA, Conquest for POTA, and Battle for POTA).   Most of which starred Roddy McDowell and Kim Hunter.   Heston did the first two.  It spawned a poorly conceived remake directed by Tim Burton, and then later still the very good trilogy with Andy Serkis as Caesar.    What made the original so compelling was the make up (it was cutting edge at the time with the mouthpieces allowing the apes to talk.   It had some political commentary as well with the ultimate trial of Heston’s Taylor by the powers that be, with the Minister of Science also having the title of Keeper of the Faith.    Man in this world is at the bottom rung of the food chain.    They are mute and kept in the jungles around the city.   They are hunted for sport by the gorillas on horseback.   Taylor was an astronaut who blasted off from earth with his colleages (two other men and a woman) but something goes wrong and they crash land on this planet.  The woman didn’t survive the trip.   They are captured by the apes and Taylor who was shot in the neck cannot speak, for the time being.   With the help of chimpanzee couple Zira and Cornelius, he manages to escape his captors.   The ending is legend.   It came at a time with space exploration was ongoing, but there was an undercurrent of wariness with the Russians.   The movies are based upon the book Monkey Planet by Pierre Boulle.  The original movies incidentally also spawned a TV series which was just not very good.   Of the original series the first and second are the most compelling.  Although the idea for Conquest where apes had been transformed from pets (the dogs and cats had mysteriously died and humans needing pets adopted apes) into slaves.   They were shouted at constantly “No!!”  Anyway, they rise up and conquer the planet (presumably one city at a time).   For me it brings back good memories.  I had the whole POTA action figure set going on (not ALL characters but a few).   POTA was a start and then Jaws and then it just went from there.    Movies have always been there to inform an entertain.

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