Thursday, September 8, 2011

Planet Of The Apes Challenges Humanity

All roads lead to Rome? We'll always have Paris? Don't count on it. While the Rome/Paris axis was a global hub of cultural influence in 1000 AD, this locus shifted by the end of the 2nd Millenium. Consider the output of the Seattle/Los Angeles axis: mass-market films and music from LA, Google search engine and Apple personal computers from Silicon Valley, Levi's denim wear from San Francisco, Nike athletic wear and Columbia eco-gear from Portland, Microsoft operating systems and Starbucks' coffee-to-go from Seattle.

Has your lifestyle been affected by these products or their progeny? I thought so. (Those of you boycotting American culture, be sure to maintain moral purity by avoiding all such goods. Here, we only bash America when morality requires it, not when jealousy or fashion encourages it.) Thus, until the world axis shifts to Beijing/New Delhi, it's appropriate that a movie on the nature and destiny of mankind be set on the nature-and-technology-loving Pacific Coast.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is firstly about the issue of why some creatures are dominant. There is the capacity for fight or flight. In this, a naked ape vastly excels a naked human. There is the capacity for bonding and organization. In this, apes are much more comparable to people than often assumed. Then, there is the capacity for reasoning and language. Here, the ape kinda sucks. Yet, what if we gave our furry friends a chemical boost where they need it most? Tampering with this delicate balance of power is how this bold action film gets most of its action.

A second issue is what moral obligation the power-struggle-winner has to earth's second-most-capable species. That's where this moving drama film gets most of its drama. Are we to adopt the position associated with Western Society that animals exist for the benefit of humanity to be treated as seen fit? Obviously not. I don't know anyone who would let their children drown kittens for fun and wouldn't want to meet such a warped person. Are we to adopt the position associated with Eastern Society that animal life is too sacred to ever be compromised? Noone consistently practices this. Millions of Indian citizens won't eat a chicken breast to build muscle mass but do slay billions of insects plus a few cows daily to cross town faster on motorcycles.

Thus, how much physical and emotional suffering we have the right to cause animals for how worthy a cause is an ethical question that people must ask and answer constantly. Perhaps, heartless scientists and brainless activists should make love not war. Perhaps, they should be crossbred in a laboratory to produce more-balanced offspring. Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a hell of an entertaining intro to a complex but crucial topic. Ponder it, debate it, or just enjoy it, but do see it.

Disclaimer: no animals were harmed in the posting of this review and any intimate relations that may or may not have occurred between the author and livestock from the zoology department at his university were purely consensual and for research purposes only.


  1. I always enjoy the humor in your posts :)
    Anyway, I did like this movie. They changed it from the original Planet of the Apes plot with this new movie and explain how the apes became all smart while the humans will vanish due to a virus but it was a good watch.

    I did find it interesting. I saw no relevance of having Frieda Pinto in it, I feel she is way too overrated an actress as it is. But all in ok movie.

  2. Zaira,
    I'm with you. With all the great Bollywood actresses, I'm clueless as to how sweet Frieda became the post-Slumdog-Millionaire token Indian for Western movies. You can almost hear a director yelling, "I think we need a brown person with a smile to complete this cast!" As the world's biggest brown-sugar-lover, I still say a brain is the sexiest part of a women's body.

    I did like the movie because it argued for animal rights by allowing you to walk a few miles in a chimp's shoes, experiencing what they might feel. I think this is a more effective way of encouraging animal ethics than spray-painting "meat is murder" on highway overpasses. Still, one could argue that the storyline is nothing but Jurassic Park and White Fang combined.

  3. Nice review. I took the kids and wife to see this on my vacation. My expectation were low, especally after the pathetic Marky Mark remake. I ended up really liking this movie as did the rest of the family. So much so, I bought the POTA box set. It was great to re-watch the first 3 originals. The whole animal rights thing was neither here nor there for me, I just really dug the movie. Tremendous ending as well, although almost missed it, because the theatre put the house lights on a bit early. Sure glad I stayed.

  4. Love the disclaimer and was thinking of seeing this. I think you just pushed me over the edge. Love your sense of humor.

  5. Great review and follow up comments. I had no idea (but probably should have) that they got into such concepts in the film. I will definitely consider them.

    I've been talking with my students about the fight or flight reaction of animals when threatened (it's a stretch, but we're talking about fear in The Monsters are Due on Maple Street) and how it's interesting that most "lower" animals will choose flight, but we "higher" thinking animals usually choose to fight.

    Brown sugar lover, eh? Yeah, I can relate to that :)

    Paul D. Dail A horror writer's not necessarily horrific blog

  6. Sean,
    Of course, you don't think about human versus animal rights. Being Irish, you're kinda in that zone between the two.

    I'm glad you like my sense of humor, but shouldn't you be telling that to a shrink or a priest?

    Good observation. Most animals instinctively choose flight unless they are too closely engaged to safely or honorably retreat. A cowboy once told me, "Good men don't want, start, or flee from fights - neither a bully nor a coward be."

  7. Lyn- And why would you get the impression I'm Irish? Found this post via an email I received from Book Blogs. Glad I did.

  8. Hi Lyn... saw the film yesterday with my family and we all loved it. I have to admit I hated all the remakes after Heston. This one breaks the mold and goes back in time to the beginning of the apes uprising. I liked the token acknowledgement of past films with Heston's famous line and the snippet showing the mission to Mars as a peek into sequels. The Bollywood actress was filler and a bit of a waste. Token cheesecake wasn't called for in this film. For me, watching the transition from pacifist to aggressor in Caesar was rewarding. Parallels occur everyday with children throughout the world.

  9. R.K.

    Your point that neglected or mistreated children often become aggressors is profound. I've noticed that a disproportionate number of us who engage in the sometimes-artistic, rarely-profitable outlet of writing are teachers or cooks/parents.

    This is partly because there's a constant drum-beat in society that the routine work of cooks/parents and teachers is somehow less fullfilling than "more-glamorous" less-essential artistic callings. Shame on those who promote such nonsense.

    I'd like to go on record as a "prestigious published author" saying this: writing is a cool art, but good parents and teachers are what keep this world from becoming a planet of the apes. These activities aren't always the most thrilling, but they'll always be the most important, and we deny it at our own peril.

  10. I haven't seen it yet. I've found it hard to take the whole concept of the Planet of the Apes idea seriously, but that's just me. I've been hearing good reviews.

    @Zaira: Good name! I'm using it for one of my characters in my work in progress.

  11. flor(mecaxiss.blogspot)October 3, 2011 at 7:41 PM

    This movie is interesant
    turn ons:
    I like was about the movie was interesting discoveries of science.

    turn offs:
    I do not like the movie was the mistreatment of animals