Before I book a movie ticket, I usually check the rating on both IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes. If the IMDB score is high, I factor in how big the film franchise is to give a lower weightage in my head to the IMDB score in the initial days as I assume most votes are from die hard fans who would vote only one way. I believe I’ve got it down to a science. Of course you might disagree with my choices but judging solely by how happy I am coming out of a movie theater after paying for that overpriced ticket, my system is pretty sound.
Usually, my system keeps me far away from any movie that says ‘musical’ in the description. The aversion started with the 2011 Ralph Fiennes & Gerard Butler movie ‘Coriolanus’, which my roommate and I went to with great expectations. We had seen just a trailer and it looked bad-ass. My roomie got an extra large tub of popcorn and we settled in for what looked like a good movie which started with Gerard Butler sharpening a knife while watching the news on TV. A little later, Ralph Fiennes started giving a speech to his army and started off with what sounded like a Shakespearean quote. Slightly weird but we rolled with it, only the Shakespeare quotes never stopped. For the rest of the movie, both the lead actors kept talking in Shakespearean prose to each other and everyone around them, talking about how they will ‘smite thee down with my sword’ or about the sound of war-drums while wearing Kevlar and shooting machine guns. My roomie forgot all about the popcorn and we just kept asking ‘what the fuck is this’ to each other for 2 hours. We were so mystified we thought of asking the theatre folks if they put the wrong audio track on. Even after the movie we had to Google it to finally believe this was actually what was intended. And the worst thing was all the critic reviews praising the movie. The Rotten Tomatoes critics consensus says: “Visceral and visually striking, Ralph Fiennes’ Coriolanus proves Shakespeare can still be both electrifying and relevant in a modern context“. It was about as fitting and relevant as the middle aged uncle next door suddenly speaking only in hip-hop rap would be. Technically I guess Coriolanus wasn’t a musical, but I don’t know what the fuck else to call it. After watching it I decided I’m never watching a Hollywood movie in which people don’t speak in normal English. My resolve was further strengthened when I asked my roomie how another musical he watched with his girlfriend was and he just said ‘Man. Hugh Jackman….Wolverine singing and dancing… WTF”
What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘apocalypse’? Zombies I bet. What about the people left alive fighting those zombies? Or people left alive in another kind of post apocalyptic setting? I bet the picture in your head is something like this:
and you hang out with people who look like this:
An array of movies and TV shows have assured us the apocalypse is pretty cool. The life of survivors is hard, but in an uber cool and sexy way. Men become men and women become bad-ass warrior queens, everyone wears leather and gets a Clint Eastwood glint in their eyes and there’s no shortage of quality hair dressers and fashionable clothes. I mean the way they sell it, you would fantasize about living in such a world. Who wouldn’t want to live in a world where accountants and business analysts can become warlords and call the shots with sawed off shotguns and unlimited ammo?
And then, I saw a Netflix suggestion for the 2009 movie ‘The Road’, starring Viggo Mortensen, who you might remember better as Aragon from Lord of the Rings, the man who put the ‘King’ in The Return of the King. Who wouldn’t want to see Aragorn and his son taking on what’s left of the world? The last time he was on the road, he took on 5 (or 6?) of the Nazgul by himself and came on top like a champ.
The art of making trailers has progressed quite a lot but sometimes I wonder if the director and writer of the movie ever bother talking to whoever is making the trailer to make sure they capture the essence of the movie right. I’m not very familiar with the industry but I think whoever made the trailer for this movie wanted to create a really short film based on their own ideas about what the story should be rather than give a teaser for the real one. Every trailer for War For The Planet Of The Apes hyped up a war that Caesar didn’t start but means to finish. In fact that exact line is repeated in every single trailer. In the actual movie however, he only says “I didn’t start this war”. He never says “but I will finish it” unless it was part of a deleted scene which we haven’t seen yet. The posters were equally misleading, such as the one at the beginning of this post.
How can anyone look at that poster and not expect an epic battle between humans and apes? But this scene never happens. There is never a single sequence in the whole movie that has two armies facing off in this way. There is a skirmish in the jungle in the beginning but nothing like this.
I never expected to become the fan of a series of movies which had titles like ‘rise of the planet of the apes’. Try telling someone to watch the movie. It sounds like you are telling them to watch some B-grade monster movie at worst and at best, a pop corn summer flick. But this series has proved to be so much more, and it looks the last installment is going to continue on the impressive trajectory set by the previous two. If you have any doubts, look at the latest poster.
Think about that for a second. A movie titled ‘war for the planet of the apes’, the last entry in a blockbuster trilogy and instead of apes jumping over fire, they chose to show what looks like a gorilla gently putting a flower behind a little girl’s ear.
Movie sequels have the irritating habit of taking the loudest parts of the previous movie, blowing that up 10 X and leaving out everything else. For example Bahubali 1, ridiculous as it is, still had a Trishoola Vyuha (Trident) battle strategy in the climatic fight. Bahubali 2 chose to have soldiers catapulted across castle walls using surprisingly pliant palm trees. This isn’t a problem in just Indian cinema either. I think the next fast and the furious movie will probably have Dom, the thief who just wants to spend quality time with family deciding to steal a nuke from N. Korea because it is the right thing to do- if they haven’t already done that in the last 6 movies I didn’t see. But anyway, point is, movie studios don’t usually go with subtlety in sequels, so its very refreshing to see this poster focus on the humanity (and apanity?) of the characters. A few fans pointed out that it might be a reference to Frankenstein’s monster playing with a little girl in a garden before killing her. I think thats unlikely because the gorilla in this series is usually like Hagrid in Harry Potter- big but huggable. However, it might still be alluding to evolved apes, mans creation dealing with mankind tenderly before destroying them completely.
I often wonder if movie makers really think so much about such subliminal references or if we just make it up coz we are jobless and they choose to roll with it. But anyway, I like how that sounds so I choose to believe it, just as a certain country’s president chooses to believe global warming is made in China.