12 August 2017

Boning Up: Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes

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What's the story?

In the previous film it seems that not only did we humans create a race of super-chimps, but the very virus that made them smarter also made us pretty fucking dead. Having sneezed our way into an early grave, what's left of humanity is surviving under the leadership of Gary Oldman. Meanwhile Caesar and his band of merry monkeys are living in peace in the forest until a chance encounter with the humans leads to gun-fire and tension between the two species. Also for the sake of variety, one of Caesar's closest friends is a crazy, human-hating fuck-nugget named Koba. Bearing in mind that the franchise is called Planet Of The Apes and not Planet Of The Humans And Apes Who Love Each Other Dearly... I'm sure you can figure out that it's all going to kick off.

What's the subtext?

There's a very carefully plotted symmetry between the ape characters and the human characters which the director claims is to ask the question of, “whether one species on this planet is any more important than another?” But that's pretty vague, and bullshit if you ask me. Maybe you could extend that further to be a race thing but despite the franchises heritage and experience in this department, the film doesn't really go in that direction. In the way that the fighting kicks off as a result of the fear mongering and paranoia of individuals on either side, rather than the actual desires of both sides as a whole, I suppose you could compare it to our modern world and the primary problem of radicals and terrorists. But again it doesn't really hammer that idea home too hard either. I think the film has enough complex shit in it that you can probably find various elements of subtext but there's no particular issue that it's acting as a major metaphor for. But it does have a chimp shooting off two machine guns whilst riding a horse, so who gives a fuck?!

What's the best bit of the film?

Well, there's the just-mentioned monkey-jockey shooting two machine guns, which is pretty excellent. Oh, and there's a brilliant tracking shot in which one of the apes rides a tank. Pretty much whatever your fantasy wish-list of mad things you might like to see a chimp doing will happen in this film.

What's the worst bit of the film?

Like Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, the female characters leave a lot to be desired. This is odd considering the franchises history with lady-apes such Zira, whose strong character and hairy appearance made her the fan-fiction love-child of Princess Leia and Chewbacca. I'm pretty sure Carrie Fisher was always on enough drugs that this could even have been possible too. However in this film there are pretty much just two female characters with one being a sick monkey and another being a human vet. They pretty much only exist to serve each other and like in the previous film... prove that the male leads aren't gay... God forbid!

What's the best line?

There's no real stand out and quotable lines here like there have been in previous entries. But I guess I quite liked, “From humans, Koba learned hate”. We are a pretty scummy species and so I like the idea of people being reminded of it after paying to see an escapist film about a gang of chatty chimps.

Is it actually worth a watch?

Absolutely it's worth a watch. Though lacking in subtext and proper female roles, it is still one of the better blockbusters in recent years and a great middle entry to this phenomenal new apes trilogy. Consider it the second of three subsequent films that'll help you forget about the pissy pile of monkey-flung wank that was Tim Burton's 2001 attempt at a reboot.