New ‘Apes’ works for me in ways original movies never did

It's time to call in the cavalry.

It’s time to call in the cavalry.

I’m a big fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Thematically, both shows were challenging, the core group of actors worked well together and the humor is terrific. I know some folks had problems with the rubber masks, but that never bothered me. Vampires, demons, werewolves, they aren’t real, so if they look a little hokey, I can live with that.

That’s why I never could get into the original Planet of the Apes movies. Apes, monkeys, orangutans, whatever, they are very real and have unique features that distinguish them from each other, as well as from humans. The apes from the old flicks mostly just kind of looked and sounded like humans, except they were wearing bad masks. They were hokey, and every time I tried to watch them, it took me completely out of that world. I couldn’t suspend my disbelief.

The new Planet of the Apes films, on the other hand, I find fascinating. The first flick was a nice set-up, a prison escape film that give us an interesting inside perspective on being a wild animal in captivity, as well as the damaging psychological effects on such animals. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes really got me cheering on this series. We watch as the apes sulk and scream in rage, spitting out their animosity at the humans every chance they get. And yet, when the time comes, the apes evolve into scheming, duplicitous, violence-loving bipeds that seem a lot like the people they despise so very much. When Caesar’s death is orchestrated to appear as if it was done by humans instead of his own lieutenants in order to unite the apes against the humans, I thought of the Gulf of Tonkin incident that led up to increased U.S. involvement in Vietnam and the sinking of the USS Maine that was the preamble to the¬†Spanish-American War.

And I was able to enjoy all of this because I was never taken out of the moment by stiff, rubber-masked pseudo-apes. With my disbelief sufficiently suspended, I could really soak in the story. And I’m left wondering what War of the Planet of the Apes has in store for us next.

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2 thoughts on “New ‘Apes’ works for me in ways original movies never did

  1. Marc says:

    Yes, I totally agree. Apes could have been just another unnecessary reboot but instead it’s an incredible combination of fresh storytelling and boundary-pushing special effects.

    • adamlaredo says:

      It’s definitely been the rare exception to the remake/reboot rule. I was extremely hesitant to watch the first one. I recently watched the second again. Sometimes, that second viewing doesn’t hold up. Not so with “Apes.”

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