And You Thought It Was Safe(?)


Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
Everyone wants free trolly rides, but some apes are more willing to take what they want than others.

Everyone wants free trolly rides, but some apes are more willing to take what they want than others.

…is the seventh film in, and second reboot of, the Planet of the Apes franchise, even though the last one was officially marketed as a “remake.” It wound up being an incredibly stupid mistake that exposed Tim Burton for an idea-starved thug he’d become by then and apparently staked this entire franchise through the heart. But let’s be honest with ourselves and admit these movies hadn’t been “relevant” for years. Most intelligent fans trace the decline of the franchise back to the moment they stopped being about Planets full of Apes and became all about justifying the existence of said planets to fools who won’t take these movies seriously no matter how many prequels you roll out.

Ten years after that debacle, a hit-starved 20th Century Fox unearthed the franchise’s corpse and removed the stake, like many a Hammer horror victim. I didn’t expect much going in, being long-since burnt out on reboots. Director Robert Wyatt didn’t help things by explicitly compared it to Batman Begins. You could go either way with that one. Everybody wants to be the goddamn Batman, but not everyone has the chops. I can remember thinking, “From the writers of The Relic? Are you fucking kidding?” So before we do anything else, I’d like to personally apologize to Amanda Silver and Rick Jaffa, one writer to two others.

Guys: I’m sorry I doubted you. Your movie’s awesome. In fact, it’d be prefect…if it didn’t insist on featuring James Franco. Continue reading

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Red Tails (2012)
Nice outfits.

Nice outfits.

Confession time, everyone. Time to let you all know that, despite barely mentioned it, I’ve spent the last seven years of my life dreading the release of Red Tails. This dramatization of the Tuskegee Airman story – the story of an all-black unit of fighter pilots trained to fly and fight for their country at the eponymous air field in central Alabama –  is one of the many, many, many passion projects George Lucas shelved back in the 90s so he could focus on making…well…you know…those movies.

But unlike every other reformed Lucasfilm fan in existence, my dread came with its own personal baggage. You see, this

(Left to right) William A. Campbell, Willie Ashley, Langston Caldwell, Herbert Clark, George Boiling, Charles B. Hall, Graham Mitchell, Herbert Carter, Louis Purnell, Graham Smith, Allen G. Lane, Spann Watson, Faythe McGinnis, James T. Wiley, and Irwin Lawrence. (Courtesy Herbert E. Carter)

(Left to right) William A. Campbell, Willie Ashley, Langston Caldwell, Herbert Clark, George Boiling, Charles B. Hall, Graham Mitchell, Herbert Carter, Louis Purnell, Graham Smith, Allen G. Lane, Spann Watson, Faythe McGinnis, James T. Wiley, and Irwin Lawrence. (Courtesy Herbert E. Carter)

is a picture of my grandfather, Herbert E. Carter (eighth from the left, front and center), with his graduating class at Tuskegee Army Air Field in July, 1942. Thanks to racist foot-dragging within the War Department, it took ten months for his squadron to reach French Morocco. As the commanding officer of the Army Air Forces, General Hap Arnold, explained at the time, “Negro pilots cannot be used in our present Air Corps units since this would result in Negro officers serving over white enlisted men creating an impossible social situation.” Continue reading