So….if you’re a die-hard fan of this movie and you want to hear no ill of it, this is your moment to click politely away from my blog.
Gary and I were really excited to see this one, after loving the first in the reboot (and not much liking the second). It’s gotten good reviews! It has 93% on Rotten Tomatoes! People have said it’s the best of the three!
I’m not sure who those people are. Seriously. It was horrible. Like. Ludicrously horrible. In fact, I enjoyed it immensely, because it was so bad that it was really humorous. I would love to see an MST3K of this one.
The CGI and the motion capture were amazing, mind you. But the plot holes were big enough that the entire Redwood forest could have fallen into them.
Let’s start with something that’s kind of minor, but I couldn’t stop thinking about. The movie had a huge gorilla named Luca galloping around on a horse. Not a draft horse. Not a huge horse. A regular-sized horse. I googled after the movie and gorillas average about 350 lbs, which would be a hell of a burden for a smallish Thoroughbred-type horse. And in one scene, the gorilla grabbed another large ape and pulled him up behind him to ride double on this poor horse…this horse that in real life would have collapsed or struggled to gallop along with like 500+ lbs of ape on its back. I was all OMG, THAT HORSE, WTF, NO WAY.
We also have this idea that the Simian flu virus has mutated in a way that turns humans mute, which is somehow equated to turning bestial and losing all humanity in the movie? Even though the only character we see whose had the virus and been turned mute does not seem like she’s become bestial? In fact, she seems to have kept all her intelligence and bravery and caring. (Well. Except for when her father is shot to death and she doesn’t seem to care much or shed a tear or hold his death against his killers. You know. Not that much caring.) Anyway, I kept wondering why the lack of speech = bestial, as if vocal speech is the only thing that separates humans from animals, when we’ve already seen the importance of sign language, writing, etc. Like…I am pretty sure that mute human beings are still human beings. If there was supposed to be some other transformation that took place, we sure didn’t see it in the movie.
This movie had more Moses, Jesus, God, and Caesar archetypal references and cliches shoved into it that if it were a boat, it would sink. At one point, the Colonel literally said, “I had to sacrifice my only son to save humanity.” Like. He literally said that. I know, because that was the moment when I pulled out a bit of paper and started taking notes, so I wouldn’t forget some of this stuff.
Neither the apes nor the humans–both groups involved in WAR, mind you–seem to know how to post a guard. People basically saunter in and out of the apes hideout and a little girl walks right into the human militia compound without any guards ever seeming to notice. Also: the humans apparently haven’t noticed that there’s some random network of tunnels literally under their compound, with apparently like 3 inches of dirt the only barrier to apes popping up and down. So. That’s special.
I also think it is an awesome strategic choice to know your military compound will be attacked by missiles, helicopters, and gunfire, but to have no qualms about building your major defensive site right next to an immense tanker that is literally marked “DANGER FLAMMABLE LIQUID.” Like. What’s the worst that could happen, right? It’ll be fine!!
This movie has all the tropes: the villain bringing the hero in to talk at length and expose their plans; the bad guys deciding not to kill the hero who’s leading a revolt of his people (Why should we kill him? Let’s keep him around!); the angel-like white, blond girl with the largest blue eyes in the world; and much, much more.
For some reason, both apes we know are female also wear jewelry or have long “hair”/fur framing their face. Does that mean literally every other ape we see is male? Like. What is up with that? Is the director just super concerned we might not realize they are female? I’m frankly shocked they didn’t have unnaturally long eyelashes, lipstick, and pink circles on their cheeks like female animals in kids cartoons.
So…let’s go there. Let’s talk about gender for just a moment. We did have two female apes: the mate of Caesar and the mate of his oldest son. They signed, so they were characters with lines. We had the little angel blue-eyed girl who mostly looked around with her blue eyes, gave an ape a flower, held a doll, and walked right into the military compound to bring Caesar food and water. Maurice the orangoutang said that she was very brave…either that or stupid, right? That’s the entire list of our female cast. OH, I saw one female extra who was in the military. There might have been more, but I only saw one. That makes literally 4 characters who were visibly female and only one–angel child Nova–who had much of a role to play.
The movie is really heavy on Sons, Sons, Sons. Like. And more sons. And fathers and sons. I started wondering if Matt Reeves, the director, has some unresolved father-son issues? Or insecurity about passing his legacy down through his son? Or something? Because Caesar has three kids, all sons. Two of whom die and one of whom, frankly, Caesar pretty much deserts. And the Colonel talks on and on about his son, his only son, who he had to kill. Yes. We get it. Fathers and sons and more sons. Does no one have a daughter? Does everyone have to be male?
Speaking of. Okay. I’m not asking for the movie to go full on Pom Poko (do NOT click that link unless you want to watch a lot of magic tanuki testicles, yes I’m serious). But we have three whole movies with naked apes and there’s really no indication that any of them have any type of genitalia. I get it–ratings. I bet they can’t show any ape genitalia and have it rated PG-13. And I’m probably bizarre for thinking about it–and perhaps I’ve seen Pom Poko too many times–but I thought I’d just throw that in here as an interesting side note.
By the way, you should totally watch Pom Poko. The tanuki (Japanese raccoon-dogs) and their magic testicles are worth it! MUCH better than War for the Planet of the Apes. I’ll take any Studio Ghibli movie over that, any day.
(Below, the absolute mildest image of the tanuki.)