14 August 2017

Woody Kill Those Damn Dirty Apes?

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At the beginning of War For The Planet Of The Apes, the ape leader Caesar suffers a devastating blow which sparks him off on a mission of revenge, putting his very soul at risk. At a pivotal moment in this movie, some dumb motherfucking bitch that was sat near to me got her stupid twatting phone out, lighting the cinema up and distracting me from an otherwise emotional scene. My soul has already been well and truly lost and so I wish nothing but the most carnivorous of parasites to latch itself onto that simplistic bint's brain and to chew its way through to her fucking spinal cord. Caesar, however, is more thoughtful than me. The focus of his revenge is the leader of a cult-like band of military fuck-wits that are being led by the Kurtz-a-like Woody Harrelson, who looks like how a fat Marlon Brando might have done had he posed in front of a complimentary circus mirror. Along for the ride are a couple of Caesar's ape-friends who act as his confidants and voices-of-reason. My friends, however, are as bad as me... so fuck that ignorant fucking pig and her stupid fucking phone. I hope she was getting bad news at the fucking time.

In preparation for this film, I thought it'd be interesting to blitz every previous Planet Of The Apes movie by starting with the 1968 original. I figured it'd be one classic followed by four cheap knock-offs. However, the result was that I loved every single one of them more than I've ever loved the majority of my family and it's now one of my all time favorite franchises. Except the Tim Burton one of course... that one is a little like the cousin we keep locked in the attic and on a diet of fish-heads. We don't like to talk about it. What I did find interesting though was the way in which the first of the two reboots, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes and Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes so closely followed the templates of Conquest and Battle For The Planet Of The Apes, which were the final two of the original series. I was therefore interested to see if this new film would continue their path and therefore do something completely original, or if it too would borrow from one of the originals and simply go for an earlier entry. For anybody curious then in my humble opinion, it's actually Beneath The Planet Of The Apes that this one takes from. Both films center on a small band of crazed humans worshipping a killing machine with a giant shiny top which in the original is a nuclear missile and here is Woody Harrelson.

I feel it's also here that I should point out that I think this film, and therefore I suppose, this new Apes trilogy as a whole is near-perfect in every way. The film critic Mark Kermode said of Beneath The Planet Of The Apes, “It's one of the darkest films I've ever seen”, and, “It's a film that starts at the point of no hope and goes downhill from there”. This is by no means an understatement either, with the original franchise being one of the most nihilistic series of films since Screech from Saved By The Bell released his porno. In keeping with that, this film is also one of the most downbeat and thought provoking, big-budget blockbusters I think I've ever seen in my life. In terms of sex, swearing, and violence, the film has been rated 12A in the UK by the BBFC. However ignoring its more superficial aspects there's a maturity to this film that I feel makes it about as appropriate for children as forcing them to listen to their parents fight about how they'd have been better off using contraception. They won't fully understand what's going on but they'd be too upset to cope if they worked it out. Sure this film is about a monkey that carries a gun but it's also one of the most painful, downbeat, grim, and just out-and-out upsetting films since.. well, probably Screech's porno again.

However, the flip side to that is that any act of kindness that the apes show therefore has the impact of a million pre-curried farts in a bus full of fat people. The apes adopt a young human girl that will otherwise die without them and their treatment of her proved more dangerous to my heart than my own diet of eating butter straight out of the tub with a wooden fucking spoon. At one point a gorilla tenderly puts a flower behind the child's ear to make her feel a little safer and a little loved and I thought I was going to die. At my own granddads funeral, I was genuinely pretending that I was James Bond because I wear a suit so infrequently. However seeing a giant monkey attempt to comfort a little girl and suddenly my eyes are face-pissing with enough water to solve the world's drought problems. The film might be entitled War For The Planet Of The Apes but the fact is that there isn't really much fighting in this movie at all. The real war is that going on internally within Caesar as he begins to lose hold of, ironically, his own humanity. Having spent hours investing into these characters and even more with the entire franchise.. when seeing the agony on screen, any sign of empathy or glimmer of hope was the emotional equivalent of finding a sweetcorn-like diamond in a cavernous cave of darkness and shit.

If I were to criticise this new trilogy in any way then perhaps I'd say that its subtext doesn't draw quite as much from our reality as the originals did. Originally the movies drew heavily on Cold War fears, the Vietnam war, and the rising racial tensions. However here the message seems to be.. “don't test Alzheimer drugs on animals. It might lead to the destruction of humanity and all you've done is cure the one disease that would let you forget it was your own fucking fault”. However, in War For The Planet Of The Apes, we do have Woody Harrelson as a deluded and megalomaniacal despot who thinks the answer to his problems is the construction of a wall. The only difference between this and reality is that Woody Harrelson looks like he's in pretty good shape whereas I suspect Donald Trump's dick has retreated so far into his own disgusting, lardy, body that he probably needs a she-wee to take a piss. As with Gary Oldman in the last film, Harrelson's crazed human character is also fleshed out to the point that we can kind of empathise with him too. So I suppose the other message of the movie is that when it comes to war there's not really any winners. Just dead people and people who've been left completely fucked up. Kind of like those that chose to watch Celebrity Love Island.

Although Woody Harrelson gives an excellent performance, the effects are impossibly perfect, and director Matt Reeves has made a phenomenal movie... I feel there's one person who deserves credit over everybody else and that's the real Caesar himself, Andy Serkis. Visually, WETA has made him look completely photo-real as an ape and yet you can still see his performance and humanity underneath. Having seen some behind the scenes footage in which the effects were yet to be completed I still buy into his performance which must be one of the most soulful and considered ever committed to screen. Reckon any other actor could convince you they were an ape without the aid of computer effects? Maybe Stallone I suppose, but never intentionally. People always talk about Serkis as being a pioneer of motion capture technology and this is obviously true. However what sometimes gets forgotten is that he's probably also one of the finest actors working today with War For The Planet Of The Apes arguably being his finest work. After seeing the 1967 original you'll be turning to your friends to say, “Get your paws off me you damn dirty ape”. However, after seeing this new film you'll simply say, “this film was perfect and no I'm not crying, there's just something in my eye you prick... so fuck off!”. Thanks for reading and see you next time, motherfuckers.