When Monkeys Kill Humans
Thoughts on "Rise Of The Planet of The Apes"
I'm a bit uncomfortable with the concept of pet monkeys turning on their human masters. For one thing, it happens. I'm sure you recall the lady in the photo. She was the nice person by the name of Charla Nash who stopped by her friend's home to help with the friend's pet chimp and ended up looking like this. The chimp knew the lady but decided not to be friendly and not to play nice. Carla lost her eyes, her hands and who knows what all? It was a horrific news story that played out over several months and will never end for Charla.
Unfortunately it's not an isolated incident. Pet chimps have attacked others.
So apes don't really like us much.
Second, monkeys being tested for intelligence levels are starting to show the ability to understand human speech better than anyone thought they could.
Third, they are like eight times stronger than humans.
Extrapolate all that out and this Rise of The Planet of The Apes stuff could be reality in twenty years. That's not an idea I find attractive.
But that didn't influence my thoughts about the movie.
Don't get me wrong, I didn't hate Rise, I liked it. It held my interest for the most part and had several interesting scenes. But on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being excellent, the very most I could honestly give this movie is a solid 5.
Prior to heading to the theatre I read six reviews and scanned probably forty to fifty comments from those who saw "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" and the majority were quite positive. A "triumph"one called it. "Captivating start to finish," said another. And this from Carl Kozlowski:
It's with an utterly stunned sense of joy that I am happy to declare "Rise" the most entertaining movie of the summer, a film that is jam-packed with moments that will awe and inspire both young and old alike. It will have you thinking, "how'd they do that?" over and over.
Pleeeeease tell me they paid you to say that, Carl.
Apparently the reviewers failed to notice:
1. A nearly complete lack of cleverness. The techno wizadry is cutting edge but it supports a story that offers up only cliche after predictable cliche. The film does entertain but only in spite of an unimaginative story line.
2. The actors completely fail to pull the viewer into the story or develop any sort of emotional connection with the audience. I'm not only talking about the human actors, but the chimps as well. A viewer is really into a movie like this when they care what happens to the characters. Caesar, the lead chimpanzee, is loveable at times and so downright mean at others you're not sure if you even want him to survive. When one of the beasts was about to kill off the principle human character, the chaacter was so poorly developed I didn't really give a flying burrito brother if the dude survived or not. Of course, predictably, he was saved at the last minute.
The original "Apes" films were clumsy and campy but the viewer had either a strong affinity or strong dislike for principle characters like Cornelius, Zira, Dr. Zauis, etc. Here the director creates villians but when they maim or kill the good guys you feel little beyond apathy.
3. The horrible pacing. At times, starting about 30 minutes in, it feels like Rise was shot in quicksand. The director chose to dwell far too long on the preliminary "why this chimp is extraordinarily intelligent" portion of the story ( gets boring!) then he way underdevelops the more interesting part: the where/when/how/why of the chimps taking over the planet.
4. The totally crappy ending. I'm talking porcelain poo collector (toilet) quality here. The ape band, after conquering the humans who are trying to stop them from crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, are apparently content with their mini-success and head for the Redwood Forest to swing freely through the trees where the film abruptly ends. Uhmmm...shouldn't there have been a little more? Like the all out conquest of San Fransisco for sure, possibly followed by the takeover of Planet Earth? I WANT TO SEE IT! Instead we're left with the suggestion of what followed. And you can't help thinking that the director got upset one day and said, "That whole conquest of the planet stuff is going to be too much work, let's just stop here and allude to the rest...we'll get all that in the sequel"
Here's what I'm thinking the actors and director of the original movie series, Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall and Arthur P. Jacobs, have to say about that: "Rupert Wyatt, you might sell a lot of tickets to the naive who falsely believe you've created something above a C grade piece of entertainment here, but you'll NEVER make a great movie until you get off that lazy bone!"
Reportedly there's a sequel to Rise of The Planet of the Apes scheduled for release in May of 2014. That date may well be pushd back but it looks like it will happen. Hopefully it will be an improvement, there's plenty of room for it.
Who will think this is a great film?
1. Clueless teens who have never seen a truly great classic movie with a clever plot, excellent acting and an amazing ending (such as "The Hunt for Red October") and throughout Rise keep thinking, "Wow, this even beats Harry Potter!"
2. The typical middle aged internet movie reviewer (professional or self appointed) who incorrectly thinks Tom Cruise is a great actor and their review of Top Gun claimed it was practically a work of art.
3. Old dudes who grew up on the original Apes series. They don't care about plots and stuff like that, they just want to see monkeys acting like humans and they're happy as a pig in sh...woops, I mean as happy as a pig in the ending of this film.
4. You. You'll like it, just don't expect too much from it. You know how some movies you'll see like two or three times at the theatre then have to run out and buy the DVD? Trust me, this won't be one.
Apes stuff on Amazon
What would have made this film better?
(Why I should direct the sequel that's obviously coming, lol)
1. By the end of the movie Caesar, the lead chimp, can talk in complete sentences but barely says anything. More dialouge between Caesar and the human actors would have made it far more interesting and would have given the actors more opportunity to display their character's personality/let the viewer find out exactly what is going on in the mind of the out-of-control beasts.
2. In every good war movie there's a point where the general gathers his most trusted officers and reveals his strategy for conquering the enemy. Letting the audience be privy to a pow-wow between Caesar and his closest ape partners in crime discussing how to take down San Francisco would have been awesome.
3. Chimpanzees, especially pet chimps are one of the more dangerous creatures on planet earth. As noted and proven at the beginning of this lens, they've been known to turn on masters and in just seconds rip faces off, bite off hands, tear off human limbs and kill.
So why hold back?
Why make the apes half ferocious and half sympathetic? Why have Caesar command the other apes to hold back? Who really wants lukewarm villains in a mushy melodramatic quasi-rampage? Unleash the beast! Use those teeth and their eight-times-human strength to rip a few people apart and scare the crap out of the audience!
Because it's only a movie and precisely because it IS a movie! Entertain fully!
After you see Rise, vote!
I saw this movie and...
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Obviously Charla will never be the way she was prior to the chimp attack. You can read details of her story at the link below.
- The Charla Nash Trust
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- Zoo Chimp Displays Human-Like Thinking to Attack Humans
Is this scary or what?
- Another Gruesome Chimp Attack
Chimp eats off a man's face, tears off his foot and attacks his genitals. Video included.