November 19, 2012
It's no secret that I do enjoy a BionicBob edit. I love the enthusiasm he puts into the projects - heck, you can even sense the enthusiasm and fun within the edits themselves and I've yet to be disappointed with anything he's released. Therefore, when he announced he was working on a two part edit on the Planet of The Apes movies, I was very eager to see what he'd pull out the bag this time for what was surely his most ambitious edit to date.
Now, I was fortunate enough to be granted a viewing of the workprint for Volume 1 which encompasses the original Planet of The Apes with the third film in the series, Escape From the Planet of The Apes, and as soon as I saw the "multi-screen" format (ala The Boston Strangler) being utilised I knew that this was going to have to be a very skillfully crafted piece of work, if the edit was to be successful. After all, having seen a few multi-screen movies over the years, it's quite easy to fall into the trap of trying to bombard the audience with too much information - Mike Figgis' ambitious, intriguing but flawed Timecode is one such example. For a faneditor therefore, the balance between too much and just enough is perhaps even more difficult to execute.
Volume 1, as stated previously, certainly lends itself to this style of storytelling more than the subsequent coming together of Beneath and Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. What's quickly apparent is how well Planet and Escape compliment each other. Hence, Bob's nicely judged uses of the multi-screen format works like a dream and I'm not joking when I say if you didn't know any better, you'd be forgiven for thinking this is the way the films have always been presented. The extra polishing and tweaks here and there in the finished version as opposed to the workprint, push the quality that little bit further too, particularly in the excellent way the films end - perfect really. The use of quotes from the movies to split various sections works better than I initially thought they would. I was fearful that they would interrupt the flow of the edit, but in practice this is not the case at all; if anything it makes the story more thought provoking, especially as the quotes are so well chosen by Bob, who obviously knows the Apes saga inside out.
As for Volume 2? Well, I have to give huge kudos to Bob here, as Beneath and Conquest are nowhere near as natural a fit as the films used in volume 1, yet by the end of the edit he has completely drawn me into the two stories having a successfully linking narrative running through them. Whether this is in part due to the fact that I am very familiar with the films anyway, I'm not sure, but whilst the challenges such an edit as this must have presented would have been daunting to any faneditor, I can wholeheartedly say that in this case they were met head on and conquered in a way which I thought if not impossible, then certainly improbable. By the time the two films come to an awe inspiring climax worthy of Volume 1, I just turned to my girlfriend and said "amazing".
Technically, this is all but perfect both visually and sonically. Very occasionally the audio levels would fluctuate a little, but we really are talking "splitting hairs" kind of stuff here. Only on the DVD menu did I notice the sound being way too loud in the levels department. Talking of the DVD, there's a an interesting "About the edit" section and a few deleted scenes which are more than worth watching.
It's the editing which is what really makes Saga of The Apes so impressive though. I see a lot of fanedits, and enjoy the majority which I see. However, there are very few occasions which really make me stand back in awe and literally leave me speechless as to the achievement I've just witnessed. Well, BionicBob you're now on that very small list. A joy to watch for any Apes fan, this is quite seriously a big contender for fanedit of 2012, and if it isn't on the shortlist I will dress up as a gorilla and come looking for the people within the Academy who decided not to vote for it ;) A tremendous fanediting achievement.