We here at Gabbing Geek mostly love apes and chatting about movies with apes. In light of a new movie featuring armed apes coming out next week, Ryan, Jimmy, and Tom opted to have a chat about the two predecessors to this movie. Jimmy had somehow seen neither before, Tom only one, and Ryan both, so this could be colorful and interesting.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
tomk: Ah, the adventures of James Franco, Brilliant Scientist.
I love how Franco tells Caesar he isn’t a pet in a scene where he still was walking him on a leash.
Aw man, Harry Osbourne tried smacking Draco Malfoy before William Stryker got involved and stopped it!
So, here’s a question: whose death is more affecting in the movie, the gorilla’s or John Lithgow’s?
jimmy: For some unknown reason, I’ve had no desire to watch this movie, though I’ve seen all the original films and the Tim Burton/Mark Whalberg remake.
I liked it, though I think I enjoyed the Caesar growing up half over the damn dirty apes half.
And to answer your question, I would say the ape had more impact.
tomk: Which makes sense because the apes are the protagonists here.
The series often brings in recognizable human actors for what seems to be the more forgettable roles.
jimmy: Were we supposed to like/cheer for Caesar/the apes? I thought he was great at first, and you definitely feel for the apes given their mistreatment by Malfoy, but by the end I felt like they had turned into villains.
tomk: I would disagree at the end. Caesar and the apes mostly go out of their way not to seriously hurt anyone until the helicopter gets involved. One cop does get tossed off the bridge, but if the apes had been left alone, they would have just run to the park and been done with it. They only attack in self-defense.
Caesar wants a place where he belongs with his own kind. A more appropriate name might have been Spartacus.
jimmy: I get that Caesar attempted to keep them from hurting anyone, but none of the humans were overtly “evil” either outside of Malfoy. The other guy that worked there was “nice”, even Brian Cox was, really. Jacobs was a bit money hungry and perhaps rushed the ALZ113 trials, but again, not evil. Maybe there was no antagonist. Just humans and apes trying to find their place in the world. A world drastically changed and about to change a lot more.
tomk: Jacobs saw the apes as property he could dispose of as he saw fit, and the cops were awfully quick to use lethal force without noticing the apes weren’t really doing more than property damage. The cops were the equivalent of the average Roman soldier to continue the Spartacus analogy, or English troops in Braveheart. Most humans just assumed the apes were dangerous and responded in kind.
jimmy: Fair enough. Maybe I’ve seen too many movies, but none of this played off to me as “evil”. I would say in the real world most people in Jacobs’ or the police’s positions would likely act the same way. There was a lot more they could have done to play up why the apes needed to “revolt”. Even all the scientists at Gen-sys were likable and cared about the apes.
tomk: True, but look at it from the apes’ perspective: even the ones in the zoo were locked in confined spaces by at-best well-meaning humans. Even Supergenius James Franco is guilty of that. They were all prisoners that finally noticed they were prisoners.
jimmy: But he said Caesar wasn’t a pet!?!?!
tomk: And still tried to confine him to a relatively small space of his house. Animals like Caesar need more free space than Franco’s attic. Remember how content Caesar looked up in the giant redwood?
jimmy: He may have made a mistake there, though he really loved Caesar. He really treated him more as a child than a pet…outside of the collar and leash. But he was still a powerful, albeit very intelligent, ape.
tomk: True, which is why Franco isn’t a villain. He just doesn’t quite understand what he’s done until Caesar speaks to him. Caesar isn’t a child either.
Doesn’t the vet woman also suggest Franco has bitten off more than he could metaphorically chew by keeping an adult chimp in his home? Chimps aren’t humans.
jimmy: I don’t recall exactly, but possibly. I remember her saying that he has built a great home for Caesar, but maybe not great, or better, appropriate enough.
tomk: She said that before she saw the home, but there have been real world incidents of attempts to raise chimps as humans. They all went poorly for both the humans and chimps involved and that’s not getting into the problems of keeping a chimp as a pet.
By the by, an antagonist doesn’t have to be evil. Antagonists only have to attempt to keep the protagonist from achieving his or her goal.
jimmy: Fair enough.
By the by, it’s worth checking out the deleted scenes from the movie. If only because they are unfinished and the majority feature Andy Serkis in all his motion capture suit glory.
tomk: Well, he is the true star of this series.
jimmy: And I don’t think you can really appreciate it without seeing him in action in the motion capture suit. Needless to say, he really gets into character. Complete with fake fangs.
tomk: Wow. I’ll see about checking that out. I’ve seen bits and pieces of him playing Gollum and Kong, so I am not that surprised to hear it.
jimmy: While we wait for Ryan, no discussion of Planet of the Apes is complete without this:
tomk: Ryan probably saw that show live.
ryan: Watched last night with the boys! I was surprised how well the graphics stood up–I thought they’d be more dated. Only one or two shots had some bad/harsh edges that made it look a bit older. Otherwise solid.
The story is just so good here. Full on Dickens with apes. The boys were pretty upset at everything Caesar went through.
tomk: I can agree with that. I thought it worked very well as a solid origin story for Caesar, with a shout-out here and there to the original beyond the obvious one since Heston’s rocket is taking off in some news stories.
ryan: Normally I like those nods but this one went too far with the newspaper. The TV clip was enough.
tomk: I didn’t notice the newspaper so much.
It was less blatant than having Heston playing an ape in make-up decrying firearms.
ryan: But what I loved about the story of the apes is that it’s understandable. You both pointed out how the apes aren’t being horribly mistreated here–but the big moments came in how the apes are treated when they react to a threat.
The dog barks at Caeser without provocation. The dog is yanked away after Caesar retaliates. And then Caesar is yanked away on his own leash. That moment when he ignores the trunk to go sit in a seat is perfection.
Likewise Caesar’s mom has her escalation overreacting to a potential threat. Everything is forced on the apes; that’s why they want to retreat.
tomk: The apes realize they don’t really belong in human society. That Caesar was treated as property or a pet and sent to ape prison for being an ape drives that point home. I often wonder in fictional universes if sentient animals and such have legal rights. It’s not something that comes up very often for very good reasons.
ryan: Plus you have to love the bookends here. Starts with Bright Eyes and her tribe being hunted, ends with her son leading his tribe to freedom.
jimmy: I was wondering what was up with the Mission To Mars, didn’t get the homage to the original. Loved the “damn dirty ape” line though.
ryan: That’s one of the central conflicts in the book, not musical, of Wicked–the rights of talking animals.
tomk: You really have to buy into the ape suffering though. I was watching this while visiting my parents and told my dad in the other room he’d like the scene on the bridge. I was pointing out how smart the apes were and he just grumbled something about how the cops should have armor-piercing bullets to shoot through the bus.
ryan: Favorite moment: when Caeser scratches the outline of his window into his cell wall and puts his cheek against it. Amazing.
tomk: My favorite: Caesar’s first spoken word.
jimmy: Both good. The window was fantastic.
ryan: Yup. That’s my second.
I looked over at the boys after “Noooo!” and their jaws were open. Awesome.
tomk: It’s a moment of an ape demanding freedom.
ryan: Far better “Nooooo!” than the Return of the Jedi Special Edition.
jimmy: Heh. I also liked how no one aged in 8 years besides Caesar.
tomk: Jimmy, we’ve talked about this. Best not to think about it.
jimmy: Right. Sorry.
jimmy: I liked the use of the end credits to “subtly” show the spread of the virus and what was to come.
tomk: You know, I think the scariest chapter I ever read when I was a Stephen King fan was a short one in The Stand showing how quickly the superflu was spreading and killing people through casual contact.
ryan: Whoa! I never saw that scene before! Even last night there was just enough credits for us to skip to the end to check so we totally missed the pilot and map. That’s cool–like our first Fast and Furious rewatch led me to see that first post-credits scene.
tomk: We should do more rewatches with Ryan. Who knows what he’s missing? Does he know there’s a very visible Nick Fury at the end of Iron Man?
ryan: The real Nick Fury is actually hiding behind the Nick Fury you see at the end of Iron Man.
tomk: Is the real Nick Fury played by Lawrence Fishburne? Probably shouldn’t ask Sam Jackson that.
ryan: That end scene was pretty bold of them. Did they know they were getting a sequel?
jimmy: Dunno. But it was a great bit with the poor old neighbor routinely getting the short end of the stick. Done well enough so that it wasn’t cheesy or played for laughs.
Ryan, I assume the boys weren’t expecting Caesar to talk? Whereas we were all waiting for it.
ryan: That’s true. I showed them the Rise preview before we watched to see if they were interested and the preview didn’t ruin that. Today it would have.
And agreed about the neighbor. Him scratching his bloody nose with the injured finger was a great callback.
Do we want to get nitpicky about how bad at sciencing this Genisys is? Maybe they should stick to making killer robots.
Or why there’s this giant primate jail in one of the most expensive real estate markets on the planet?
jimmy: Lol at your Genisys comment.
tomk: I dunno though. Seems like a lefty city like San Francisco would be the one to give animals enough rights to actually have a primate prison.
ryan: Fair. But why not just have that at the zoo?
tomk: Zoo looked awfully crowded.
Though I seem to recall the big nitpicking complaint was that there shouldn’t possibly be that many apes in a major American metropolitan area.
ryan: Well there appear to be a lot of apes just around if the jail alone has a dozen.
tomk: And you wanted to put the jailyard apes in with the zoo apes when both were already too crowded.
ryan: Not necessarily the same facility, but at least in the same grounds.
Did you guys see this in the theater?
jimmy: I never saw it before this week.
tomk: Jimmy, you being an Apes fan as you said above, why did you skip it for so long?
ryan: I didn’t either. Weird we all missed it. I watched it the first time when I took Besh to his first dance convention. It was cool seeing this movie being surrounded by an alien world to me (at the time). I felt a bit ape-ish.
tomk: I get to the theaters a lot more lately. It’s why I haven’t seen the second one yet.
jimmy: I don’t really know why I missed it. It just didn’t catch my attention. Maybe I thought it was going to be crap. A possible prequel…with James Franco?
ryan: Oh you’re both Dawn virgins?? Awesome.
First time I watched this I didn’t mind him. We were in peak Franco exposure. Now, he was meh. The good news is he wasn’t in it much. And ultimately he has to be a jerk to help push Caesar away. He does that well.
jimmy: I don’t mind Franco, but his involvement doesn’t scream high quality sci-fi.
ryan: He was coming off Milk and 127 Hours. He was a solid rising star back then.
And it was nice to see Latika in another film too.
tomk: Jimmy never forgave him for Spider-Man 3.
jimmy: Damn right.
tomk: Jimmy feels Franco going to Hell in This Is The End was too good a fate for him.
ryan: I do wonder about the timing. You mentioned how nobody aged. More than that, the relationship Franko and Latika had seems a bit odd for 5 years. Maybe that was added later? Maybe they intended Caesar to be younger for the last part, or more time to pass before they picked up his story?
jimmy: Exactly. It was like the people involved progressed 8 months, not years.
tomk: Maybe a movie with talking apes doesn’t worry too much about human romantic relationships.
ryan: But then there’s the science. 8 months makes sense. But has Franco been doing NOTHING in his lab for years??
jimmy: Exactly. And treating his dad for 8 years before side effects and he fesses up about it?
ryan: Yeah. And why would side effects happen now? Why would a treatment that repairs damage need to keep going?
And okay let’s say it needs to keep going because REASONS. Instead of engineering a supervirus to carry the drugs can you think of some other delivery method? Or some other subject that, I dunno, has benefitted from the drug his ENTIRE life and may hold some answers and maybe lives in your attic?
jimmy: Stop your crazy legit science talk!
To back track a little, and this was touched on slightly with a couple of comments…the mission to Mars stuff…that was just a nod to the fans right? These are not prequels of any kind correct?
tomk: I think they’re both nods and prequels.
jimmy: Hmm. I guess we’ll know more with the next two.
tomk: My understanding was they were intended as prequels.
jimmy: Don’t tell Ryan!
tomk: But, it’s like when Marvel did the black Captain America story and fans thought it meant Steve Rogers wasn’t the original Cap and got mad like all manner of reasonable people do, but then the story came out and it accounted for Steve Rogers and didn’t really change a thing about his origin story. The talk was this was a prequel set centuries or more from the time of the original movie but they threw in a nod to the Icarus while filling in other gaps that were left out.
ryan: This series (Rise, etc.) are reboots. Not prequels.
tomk: Well, the likelihood of nuclear war probably seemed a lot less likely when Rise came out than the Heston original.
So, do you guys have anything else to add here?
jimmy: I’m glad I finally watched it. Very good movie, though as I said, I liked the Raising Caesar half more than the Caesar The Barbarian half. Definitely intrigues you to watch the next one.
tomk: Barbarian might be too strong a word. Caesar is more civilized and compassionate than most of the human characters.
But the movie does a fine job of pacing through Caesar’s life to that moment.
jimmy: Yeah, I was just trying to come up with something that sounded cool.
tomk: Caesar the Freedom Fighter?
jimmy: Doesn’t have the same ring to it. 🙂
ryan: He’s kinda like one of the badass yet ethical hitmen from Pulp Fiction. Caesar the Julius.
jimmy: He doesn’t speak enough scripture for that.
ryan: He said most of the ten commandments.
tomk: He wrote his own. Apes alone weak. Apes together strong.
ryan: Cookies are for closers.
tomk: No, no, no. That’s Boss Baby. Everyone knows that C is for cookie. And quite frankly, that’s good enough for me.
jimmy: Usually when Tom and I descend into this silliness in our DCAU chats, that means it’s time to move onto the next one.
tomk: Then perhaps it’s time to move on and see the Dawn.