Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which has a horribly wordy title, is a surprisingly good summer movie. It does everything right, including taking some heavy risks by making us sympathetic to the ape cause. Granted, the alternative was cheering for big business and American consumerism. Few movies push leading characters who aren’t human – especially ones who spend over half the movie without a human counterpart sitting around to remind us that we’re supposed to like them. This was awesome.

One of the major problems I had with this film, though, was how ape intelligence had to be portrayed in human terms. The signing, the writing, and the puzzle solving aren’t necessarily so bad – it’s the speaking. Only four words were spoken by an ape through the entire film, but that was more than enough. Speaking English does not mean a creature is intelligent. You’ve all met people who speak fluent English whom you cannot believe have more rights than monkeys. But the audience is led to believe that the apes have finally transcended because one learns how to speak.

Question for people who know a bit more about animal physiology than I do: Do chimps have the same vocal structure as we do? Would it physically be possible for them to speak English?

Aside from that, Apes was a really good film that makes up for Tim Burton’s failure from a decade ago. The ending was brilliant as well. It’s not so much that the apes grew intelligent and overthrew the humans. It’s that the humans simultaneously developed a deadly (to them) airborne virus along with a virus that advances brain development in apes. We’re led to believe at the end of the film that the contagion has gone worldwide. The apes didn’t so much overthrow their rulers as they did simply inherit the Earth.

Go see this movie. One especially amazing thing is that the named apes in the film are provided more solid characterization and development than most movies starring humans these days. That’s a feat that should be rewarded.

About Gospel X

Media commentator who tries not to waste time - and often fails

Posted on August 24, 2011, in Bechdel failure, movies, review, science fiction, scifi and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I hear what you’re saying, only this is supposed to be a reboot as far as I could tell. Previous Planet of the Apes films reference Ceasar, the first talking ape. I think the fact that he speaks is supposed to point to that (though to be honest this is all secondhand knowledge). I also appreciated the b-plot (fall of human society) because I was asking people what else happened to humans according to the original movie. From what I can tell about human society, if it was a war and we began to lose, humans would be willing to go nuclear and damage the planet out of spite.

    • I get the reboot aspect, but my problem with any film in which any non-human creature becomes more intelligent is that they suddenly begin to speak like humans. Intellect can be conveyed in so many different ways. I’m sure we all picked up on it in this film BEFORE the ape spoke.

      The B-plot was awesome. I don’t remember much about the original PotA films, so I’m not sure how they explained the fall of man. In the original novel, it was human laziness. They made apes smart and put them to work, and then man got too stupid over time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s