Thursday, August 4, 2016

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes through a Kid’s Eyes

Since I’ve been talking about mutants and apes recently, I should really get to the last Blu-ray available entry about these mutated apes before the next film comes out and I get behind on another franchise.

I’m proud to say that whether it’s super powered humans or super intelligent apes on the screen, by daughter still harbors an immediate dislike for intolerant and small minded characters.

Koba, the intolerant and small minded ape, was way sneakier and more competent than the human jerks that were his parallel in driving the conflict to inevitability.  Just like real life, a few buttheads ruin it for everyone.

While not a complete butthead, as he does have the best interests of everyone in mind at first; Gary Oldman falls into this category.  He’s always completely different in every role, yet is thoroughly commanding in whatever role that is.  Amazing.

The new series continues to run on the idea that we’re rooting for the apes, and retains them as the focus characters.  The humans were secondary - interlopers to the world of the story of the movie.  Accordingly, my daughter was much less tolerant of the humans’ actions than of the apes, even though the latter were scary looking. (This explains why it takes so long to get her to watch these movies. She enjoys them immensely, but then when asked if she wants to see the next one, focuses on “scary monkey” memories.)

The woodland setting was far cooler than a post nuclear desert. Having our stars primarily use sign language maintained their natural, non-human look.

I guess it was a case of “know your audience.” When we first turned on the subtitles for the hearing impaired (because the air conditioner was loud) the text under the sign language disappeared.  It gave the opening ape scenes a truly otherworldly quality before we figured out how to turn them back on.

This silent method of speaking coupled with accurate depictions of the agility and physical power of chimpanzees and gorillas made it easy to see why the bedraggled human community was terrified of them. (Again…scary monkeys.)

It’s nice to see that they not only learned from the original films, but expanded concepts to previously unseen levels of awesome.

Apes on horseback? 

Apes on horseback with MASSIVE FIREPOWER? 
Extra Awesome!

Apes in a tank? 

The social satire and commentary is there, this time based on some relevant points about the dangers of letting fear mongers who point at “the other” as the source of societies’ ills get everyone into a tizzy.

In tribute to the classic series the beginnings of the caste system, used for much of the social commentary in those movies, can be seen.

The gorillas, being the only non-arboreal great apes, had a village on the ground that guarded the entrance to “ape city.” 

The orangutans, traditionally clever but solitary, were shown as the teachers and advisors.  Considering how well they’ve done everything else in these two films of the rebooted franchise, I’m wondering if they’ll go down the path of transitioning the orangs from the wise educator role, to the religious leaders who “know what’s best for everyone” and control society from behind the scenes role, personified by Doctor Zaius.  Additionally, I wonder:  with the ape centric focus on these films, if a Zaius character is introduced will my daughter still think, “He’s a poopyhead?”

I can’t heap enough praise on the motion capture actors yet again. If you’re one of the few remaining who needs to have an object (instead of downloading) when purchasing a movie or album like me, check out the extra features.  Yes, the CGI animation is amazing, but watching the motion capture scenes of Andy Serkis and company, every iota of ape behavior is visible in those grey suited, face dotted performers.

Because the apes are the driving force and main characters of the film, the key surprise statement is not when they scare the flaming bejeebers out of the humans by revealing they are an organized, armed and articulate society. 

But, DANG, that show of force when Caesar and the ape cavalry enveloped “Human Town” to say “and don’t come back!” was freakin’ outstanding wasn’t it?

The line that gets this honor does come from Caesar, but the surprise comes not from humans that hadn’t met the starring clan of the film.  Instead the surprise comes from Caesar’s own “people.” They witness him change the key law of their society to inflict punishment on his former friend and ally Koba for destroying any chance of averting war with the humans.  The concept has been done before, probably most famously by Eowyn in the Battle of Pelennor fields.

However, the shock of this line extended to the audience - due to the normally peaceful and level headed Caesar introducing his subjects to capital punishment, the concept of “dehumanizing,” and the limit to his mercy.  His response to Koba quoting their highest law, “Ape not kill ape!” was the -

Key Surprise Statement:




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