Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes has a lot to live up to, like a grand tradition of the most depressing endings in movie franchise history

'Apes, hand me some poop to throw at the humans.'
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which opens tomorrow night, currently has a 97% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes (over on Metacritic, it's received a 90% approval rating). The new prequel's Tomatoes rating is even higher than the 89% Tomatoes rating that currently belongs to the original Planet of the Apes, a classic, Rod Serling-penned film that comedian and Planet of the Apes stan Dana Gould once amusingly summarized as "Moses dressed like Tarzan being chased by King Kong dressed like Fonzie."



Director Rupert Wyatt's 2011 slice of San Francisco disaster porn, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, was--James Franco sleepwalking through the whole film aside--a surprisingly enjoyable reboot of the most unlikely post-apocalyptic, racism allegory-filled sci-fi franchise to become popular with kids. Dawn, which has Andy Serkis reprising his motion-capture role as ape revolutionary Caesar with Cloverfield director Matt Reeves at the helm, is bound to conclude with a heartwarming feel-good ending, just like Rise and the seven films that preceded Rise did. Let's look back at these eight previous feel-good endings (including the restored conclusion in the director's cut of Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, the best of the '70s Apes sequels), shall we?

(Spoiler warning for anyone who's seen neither of the Apes films.)

Planet of the Apes (1968): Ends with the depressing discovery that the titular planet is Earth.

NRA presidents are always known for their calm and rational demeanor.
(Photo source: Dana Gould)
Beneath the Planet of the Apes: Ends with the nuclear destruction of Earth.

Escape from the Planet of the Apes: Ends with Cornelius, Zira and a baby chimp they disguised as their son Milo all being shot to death; Milo (later renamed Caesar) is left orphaned and repeatedly calls for his dead mother.

Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (theatrical version): Ends with Caesar and his simian rebels celebrating their uprising by sparing humans' lives for the night.

Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (director's cut): Ends with Caesar and his simian rebels celebrating their uprising by beating their cruelest oppressor to death. On second thought, that's not depressing. Don Murray's character was a racist asshole who deserved to die.

Battle for the Planet of the Apes: Ends with a statue of Caesar shedding a tear that's either grief over the bloodshed that's bound to follow the sequel's events or a tear of joy regarding the altered timeline, which seems to be pointing towards more peaceful relations between apes and humans. (Battle co-screenwriter Joyce Hooper Corrington regarded the weeping statue imagery, which writer Paul Dehn tacked on to the screenplay Corrington worked on with her husband and writing partner, as "stupid. It turned our stomachs when we saw it.")

Planet of the Apes (2001): Ends with you mourning over the last two hours you wasted watching it.



Rise of the Planet of the Apes: Ends with a virus wiping out nearly all of humanity.

Which bleak way will Dawn of the Planet of the Apes end?

Michael Giacchino's score from Dawn of the Planet of the Apes--which sounds like a combination of Giacchino's acclaimed work from Lost with a little bit of what Giacchino described in a Sony Classical press release as "the experimental musical style which my hero Jerry Goldsmith chose for the original film"--can now be heard on "AFOS Prime" on AFOS.

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