WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES Will Be “Funnier”
20th Century Fox rolled out previews of its 2017 slate this week for journalists – but not us, sad face emoji – and Variety has the scoop. Of particular note are the details about War for the Planet of the Apes, which Variety says promises a “funnier” installment, causing some recent fans of the franchise to scratch their heads. Here’s what Variety is telling us:
Caesar has a crisis of conscious when confronted with evidence of the abundant suffering of both humans and apes, as both species are driven to the brink. (Director Matt) Reeves said new characters will be introduced — including Steve Zahn as a chimp liberated from a zoo — who will bring new humor and emotion to what is essentially a war movie.
“The movie has heightened everything and we have a tremendous amount of humor,” said Reeves, “which you haven’t had in either of the previous films.”
Well, guys, I’m a huge Planet of the Apes fan. Seriously a big-time, lifelong fan. And I’m here to tell you that humor is the one* classic element of the original franchise that’s been missing from this otherwise excellent reboot. Go back and watch the 1968 original: the script by Michael Wilson and Rod Serling is actually a scream, filled with wry humor, one-liners and big, broad satire. I mean, there’s a court hearing where this happens:
And the brilliance – yes, brilliance – of the original film is that it manages to make moments like this work in tandem with some of the absolute bleakest shit ever seen in mainstream cinema at the time. Before the ruins of the Statue of Liberty graced my childhood trash can, it was gut-punching movie audiences in the film’s final shot, the first of five bleak-af endings delivered by a franchise that always presented jokes alongside its doom & gloom.
The new films have captured much of what made the original franchise work – pathos, heady moral questions, a cynical/apocalyptic view of mankind - but embracing some humor is just one more way these new films can hew closer to the spirit of the originals. It’s good news.
*I really just want to see these Apes in some clothes, guys.