Friday, August 19, 2016

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Year 8, Day 232 - 8/19/16 - Movie #2,426

BEFORE: Another sequel puts me right back where I started, on the Planet of the Apes.  I should mention that a few months before I started this project on 1/1/09, I had watched all of the "Planet of the Apes" movies in the original series, in the proper chronological order.  Well, I'd seen them all before, but not on successive days in sequence, and I finally understood the entire (pre-reboot) timeline.  I wondered, "What other insights could I gain, by juxtaposing films on successive days?" and thus my descent into organizational madness began.  

It's really one of the first modern film franchises, along with James Bond, we might not have the "Star Trek" and "Star Wars" franchises without it.  5 original films, 1 remake and 2 in the reboot series (soon to be three, the next installment is due next year) plus there are comic-book spin-offs - I saw an ad at Comic-Con for "Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes" and I wondered why nobody had thought to do that mash-up before.  

As for the linking out of "X-Men: Apocalypse", I'd identified that film as sort of a nexus, once I got to it, I could go just about anywhere, given that large cast.  It seemed a shame just to link between the Marvel movies just because Stan Lee made cameos in them.  I could have linked via Hugh Jackman to "Chappie" or "Pan", or via Nicholas Hoult to "Mad Max: Fury Road", or via Jennifer Lawrence to "Joy", but I ended up going back to my first plan, linking via Kodi Smit-McPhee to today's film.  Sometimes the first plan is also the best plan.  

FOLLOW-UP TO: "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" (Movie #1,372)

THE PLOT: A growing nation of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar is threatened by a band of human survivors of the devastating virus unleashed a decade earlier.

AFTER: My first thought is, I wonder if the person who names these films is kicking himself (or herself) for naming the first film "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" - the two titles really should be switched around, because the dawn of something comes before the rise, right?  I mean, the sun dawns each day, then rises in the sky - only it really doesn't go anywhere, it stays put and the earth turns, creating the illusion of the sun's motion, so we really should do something about our English language, it hasn't caught up with science.  

Speaking of science, this film shows the devastating effect on humanity of the simian flu.  Production probably started on this film about five years ago, when monkeypox was still a thing - remember that?  Whatever happened to monkeypox?  That wasn't named right, either, because it was more common in rats than in monkeys.  For that matter, what happened to ebola?  Two years ago we had four people in the U.S. with ebola, and now you never hear about it.  Anyway, it doesn't matter because now we know we're all going to die from the Zika virus.  Or maybe the zombie plague.  

But let's get back to the monkeypox.  And the APE-ocalyptic effect it had on human society. (See what I did there?)  GIBBON half a chance, the disease killed off most of the human population, seems it wasn't out to MONKEY around.  Which gave the apes a chance to take over via GORILLA warfare.  OK, I'm done, before you go BANANAS.  (Check out the film's soundtrack for even worse puns - the compositions have titles like "Past Their Primates" and "The Apes of Wrath".)

The party line in movies seems to be to remind us (usually through an animated kids movie) that we humans are no better than animals, with no more right to the planet, even though we discovered agriculture, and tools, and writing, and electricity.  I can kind of see both sides of it, because as a species we've come so far, but we also destroyed the ozone layer, created reality television, and some of us wear socks with sandals.  (You know what, just hand the planet over to the monkeys, I'm guessing they can do better than us, given enough time.)  

But even with humanity reduced to a few pockets of stragglers, and with the fuel supplies scheduled to run out in just a week or two, even then, mankind refuses to make the switch to solar power and/or windmills.  (Actually, that seems about right...)  Humans would rather risk a trip into ViciousMonkeyLand and start an interspecies war than have a solar panel or a windmill blocking their view of the broken skyline.  It's about priorities, people!  

I don't know about you, but seeing a large chimpanzee riding on horseback firing two machine guns at once is enough to scare me.  But I think we'll be all right, as long we don't do anything stupid, like teach monkeys sign language.  Wait, we did that?  Oh, crap...

I also don't think enough people appreciate what a golden age of filmmaking we're living in - just about anything that a writer or director can think of can be brought to life with CGI.  A couple of actors wear some funny suits with dots on them, some nerds crunch the numbers, and boom, an army of talking monkeys.  (OK, there might be more than that to it, but still...)  Back in the 1960's, when they made the first "Planet of the Apes" movie, they had to not only find real gorillas that would wear human clothing, but also train them to ride horses, that must have been very difficult.  And then I think they had to rub peanut butter inside their mouths so they would move their lips, then sync up the actors' words to those mouth movements.  At least, I think that's how they did it on the "Mr. Ed" show - same thing, right? 

What's also weirding me out is the fact that "Curious George 3" also featured the same plot point, with human + monkey traveling through the jungle together in order to repair the dam.  Isn't that always the way, with two films coming out around the same time on the same topic?  Anyway, as with the first movie in the rebooted "Planet of the Apes" series, the film ends on a note that suggests that the next film is going to be bigger and better.  Bring it on, I say.  

Also starring Jason Clarke (last seen in "Terminator Genisys"), Gary Oldman (last seen in "Robocop"), Keri Russell (last seen in "Honey I Blew Up the Kid"), Kirk Acevedo, Jon Eyez, Enrique Murciano, Keir O'Donnell (last seen in "American Sniper"), Jocko Sims, Kevin Rankin (last seen in "Dallas Buyers Club"), Lombardo Boyar, with a cameo from James Franco (last seen in "The Great Raid"), and (via motion capture) Andy Serkis (last seen in "24 Hour Party People"), Toby Kebbell (last seen in "Fantastic Four"), Nick Thurston, Judy Greer (last seen in "Tomorrowland"), Karin Konoval, Terry Notary, Doc Shaw, Lee Ross.

RATING: 7 out of 10 sharpened sticks

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