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Making Apes: The Artists Who Changed Film

For any fans of the "Planet of the Apes" film series, the new informative documentary, MAKING APES: THE ARTISTS WHO CHANGED FILM is a treasure trove of archival, behind the scenes footage.

After a quick, fun look at the history of make up in the movies, the film dives into 20th Century Fox's decision to film "Planet of the Apes" in 1968. With the studio hobbled by the seismic shifts in public tastes and numerous box office bombs, they have a lot riding on the film.

It's not an overstatement to say that it was the single biggest make up project ever for a studio and they looked to trail blazers to solve their needs.

John Chambers is a loud, big-ego boss without a lot of people skills, but he's a mad genius in creating the designs to turn actors into apes LONG before CGI turned it into a digital process.

A lot of footage shows Roddy McDowell, Kim Hunter and Maurice Evans becoming their legendary characters, as well as early screen tests with James Brolin and Edward G. Robinson in make up that wasn't quite good enough.

Director/Editor William Conlin does a great job showing the impact of the original film and its sequels, even delving into the live action TV series (I remember that on CBS on Friday nights!), the animated series and the latest digital incarnations.

It's also fun to remember that Chambers dropped out of Hollywood and went to work for the CIA, which was well detailed in the hit film "ARGO" in which he was played by John Goodman.

The film is loaded with interviews from famous fans like Guillermo del Toro and Richard Donner, original cast members and make up artists. Many of Chambers key assistants went on to become ground breaking artists on their own in the 80's and 90's.

With physical makeup rapidly going the way of the dinosaur, this is a fun look back at a very different time in Hollywood and on the big screen.

If you're a fan, you'll go APE for the simian nostalgia on display. When I was about 12, I spent all day in theaters watching the first 4 Apes films in a row, followed by the last, dismal sequel. So you can imagine how much I enjoyed this! MAKING APES gets a B.

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