Friday, July 10, 2015

"Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" (2014)

If you would like to see Shakespearian level drama, acted out by a bunch of apes, this latest Planet of the Apes entry is for you. Not that it is really quite at a Shakespearian level—although it is quite good—nor that there are any actual apes. For an animated movie, though, it is quite good. Things have come a long way since the days of “Bedknobs and Broomsticks.”

If “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” was a remake/updating of the 1972 movie “Conquest of the Planet of the Apes” then this one is a remake of that one’s sequel, “Battle for…” Both are better than the originals, but like the originals, seeing the rise of Apedom is less compelling than seeing the post-apocalyptic ape future.

Here we see the start of the war through the eyes of two characters—one human and one ape—who only want to win the peace. Knowing the franchise, though, we all know they are going to fail. It is fascinating, however, to see their struggle. Especially in the contet of the world in which we live. This is a story of two camps, highly suspicious and fearful of the other, unable to overcome that fear and antagonism, even though their futures depend upon them doing so.

Caesar, the ape leader, is of the opinion that apes are naturally good. That is his costly mistake, and in this film he learns that apes are just as capable of evil as humans. This is the sort of lesson that today’s factions also need to realize. The “other” is not by nature evil; and our own kind is very probably as flawed as we imagine that other to be.

Another interesting (and unintended) aspect of this parable, is the nature of the divide. Apes are born apes. Humans are born human. Neither can help nor choose who they are by nature, but they do chose how they will live. The divide here is not about preferences or tastes or life-choices. The fear and suspicion is triggered by difference. However, the choices that can be made here are the things that could prevent disaster. Today’s society wants to see the sorts of advances that were made back when the original Apes movies were coming out, but the “causes” being trumpeted are not the same. The stories being told are wholly diferent.

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