Science fiction, a genre that was once considered to be just a source of comfort and imaginary friendships for the earlier despised and now celebrated human sub-species known as nerds. I’m not sure exactly when nerds became cool. Maybe when guys who looked like they will never get laid started making million dollar companies from their garages. I personally think Hugh Jackman definitely played a role by making comic book superheroes seem cool, unlike the kids who read the comics before they were made into movies. I was personally unaffected by the anti nerd mentality of the time because of my remarkable lack of respect for academic achievement, but even my friends thought my taste in movies and books was kind of weird.
Nowadays though, superhero movies, Star Trek movies, Star Wars movies are all accepted and mainstream. The big money of course brought bigger on screen explosions and hotter actresses. But there was a time before people got to ogle Megan Fox in a movie about space robots that look like sports cars. In the pilot of the original Star Trek series (which I saw recently on a dull Sunday), a beauty who was stranded on Talos IV did an utterly cringe worthy dance in green paint, which was apparently supposed to be seductive.
And yet, there were sci-fi fans even back then. Even now, there are movies which do not have enough action or sex or drama to sell a lot but still get a flock of devotees. What then is the true allure of science fiction books or movies apart from entertainment value, which works universally?
An article I read recently made a distinction between science fiction and fantasy which made me think about this. It argues that true science fiction according to authors of that genre takes up a big scientific advancement or discovery and uses that as a lens to examine the true nature of things we are already used to. Fantasy stories on the other hand merely sets the story in a fantasy world which might or might not be a futuristic one. The key difference is that the science or tech in that is not integral to the story. The article argues that Star Wars is a space fantasy movie and not a science fiction movie, although I think that will be debated to the end of the world and back through a time loop. Leaving aside the debate about which movies qualify, lets focus on the idea that science fiction is a premise to look at our own world and lives.
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.