Yes, I’m really posting about Planet of the Apes. Gary and I wanted to see the new POTA movie, but neither of us had seen either of the reboots: Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
This weekend, we had a bit of a movie marathon (is two a marathon?) and watched them both in preparation.
First: we both LOVED Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Now, I did have a few suspension of belief issues (Really? A laboratory of scientists and no one notices Bright Eyes is pregnant? And after she dies, the lab guy extracts the baby with no one noticing that either? And Will just raises this chimp for years at his house and the neighbors and others know, but that’s not a legal issue?). But I can forgive the movie all of that, because it did such a damned fine job engendering empathy for the apes. I loved the apes! I hated the humans! I imagine every person in the movie theater rooting for the apes to completely overthrow humankind. We deserve it.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, though? Blah. Different director and producer. Fighting, fighting, fighting, and some more fighting, and did I mention there’s a lot of fighting? And very static characters–almost character templates–who you don’t really care about one way or the other. Yeah, some are obviously “good” and some are “evil” and I nominally liked the “good” ones better. But I didn’t really care. Even Caesar, who I loved in the first move, turned kind of meh in the second.
And here’s the other thing. The second movie was so fighting blah blah flat fighting meh fighting that it really highlighted something true of both movies:
Where are the women? Like…do we need to fill out a missing person report? In Rise, we have the love interest, who’s also a veterinarian (one point for STEM field). I believe she might be the only woman with a speaking role in the entire movie. No–WAIT. There’s the two women/sex interests with beers in the zoo/prison. I think they say a few words.
That’s literally it. None of the scientists or lab workers are women. None of the military or police people are women. There might be some other women floating decoratively in the background, but…
In Dawn, we have the nurse/mom-figure/wife–who, by the way, I couldn’t stop thinking of as Elizabeth from The Americans and I kept wondering why she didn’t just go solve the whole problem by herself, because Elizabeth is BAD ASS. We have Caesar’s wife, who might have a name? And might have signed a couple of things?, but primarily gave birth, got sick, and then got better. None of the human leaders are women. None of the human fighters with speaking roles are women. None of the human tech/science people are women.
Lack of gender inclusion and representation doesn’t mean a movie has no value. Look–I said I loved Rise. But it does make me wonder: How can directors and producers be so blind to the fact that they’re producing something that ignores the actions/subjecthood of half the population? What’s up with that? Why is the male the norm, still, in 2017?
We’re going to see the new movie soon. I’ll let you know what we think.