Caesar has this peaceful little civilisation going, with hunting and community and a little school and, we are left to imagine, lots of picking fleas off one another. Some humans turn up, shoot one of the apes, and things go a little pear-shaped.
We pay attention to the apes more than the humans, watching as ambition and distrust change their world into something more human. This is very much a movie about the apes. The humans are stock characters, never given enough screen time to become more than they are absolutely required to be. Even Gary Oldman (who, I probably don’t need to tell you, is Gary fucking Oldman) is given perhaps one scene to grow a little. Otherwise he is post-apocalypse stock character number 4, though he plays it extremely well.
The apes are believable and, thanks to all that body hair, we are never bothered by the uncanny valley. We are able to get involved in their story and we come to care what happens to them. This is their movie and their characters are the three dimensional ones. The human we are most invested in is given as much chance to become a character as Caesar’s newborn, and it works.
Also, there are apes on horseback with guns. All by itself, that is a reason to watch this movie.
Here’s how it heralds the end of the world.
From the first moment of the movie, when the clichéd news footage was data dumping all over the screen, there were people in the back of my cinema talking. We got to see the apes on a little hunting trip, and these geniuses were talking. We saw the ape civilisation, and they were still talking. Humans turned up and I thought, surely now they’ll stop talking; nope. An employee of the cinema turned up about halfway through and had a word with them and they finally shut up.
For ten minutes. Then they were talking again. Incessantly yammering about…it doesn’t matter what they were yammering about because they were in a cinema. And some other people started talking too, I suspect because they didn’t want to feel left out.
I was watching another movie a few years ago (I don’t go to the movies much). It was an explosion movie, where every plot turn is punctuated with a ball of fire (for an example please see my series, Dead Men). It was Michael Bay perhaps. Throughout most of the movie I couldn’t have heard whether someone was speaking because the speakers were set loud enough to rupture my eardrums (seriously, it’s very loud and we get it. Shhhh). But even in an explosion based movie there are quiet moments.
The cardboard hero stares emptily at the plastic love interest and dribbles some dialogue, and the music goes quiet to let us know that this is important and we should pay close attention.
At no point during this silence did I hear someone speaking. At no point, despite the lack of explosions and/or giant robot testicles, did the audience utter so much as a peep.
I believe this is the sign.
We as a civilisation are coming to an end, and the people in the back of my cinema are among the first to know it. There are no rules to civilisation anymore, and they’re capitalising on this. Soon people will be skipping their place in the queue, or not holding doors for people when the people are clearly mere moments away from being able to grab it from them. Madness will descend on the world and we will realise we were warned. We could have stopped it and we didn’t.
Much like Caesar and Koba. We trust them to uphold civilisation and they are going to destroy it. You have been warned.
Or, I guess, some people found the bits where the CGI apes had conversations with each other a little boring, when all they wanted to see were apes, on horses, with guns.