29 July 2017

Boning Up: Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes

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What's the story?

Since Cornelius and Zira had the living shit shot out of them in the previous film, their super-smart monkey baby has been raised by a kindly circus owner. Because circus owners are renowned for their 'pure intentions' and so that monkey definitely won't have been whored out for shiny pennies, rubles, and whatever else carnies trade in. In the meantime, it seems that Cornelius's prophecy regarding the rise of the apes has begun to take place, with our chimps becoming slightly more human-like. Well, either that or this movie is simply set in the primordial depths of modern day Liverpool. As Cornelius's predicted, our dogs and cats have all been killed by a virus and we've started to use the slightly smarter monkeys as our slaves. I know it might sound cruel but as you all know we'd all secretly give our right nuts for a monkey butler if we could get away with it! Anyway, the super-smart monkey baby has grown up, visits the city, then sees how we treat his kind. Not being too keen on abuse, he shouts out words to the effect of “fuck this shit”, takes on the name Caesar, and then rallies his kind into a particularly hairy rebellion.

What's the subtext?

Well it's not too hard to spot in this one which depicts the apes as being treated like slaves, abused at the hands of their masters, and considered to be dirt by the general human public. This film came out in 1972 and so at a time in which race riots and racial tensions were prominent issue in America with the 1965 Watts Riots in LA being a huge influence on the imagery of the apes rebellion. This is also highlighted by the inclusion of MacDonald, a black character whose introduction prompts this exchange between two policemen...

Policeman 2
Who the hell's that?

Policeman 1
Take it easy. MacDonald. The Governor's number one assistant.

Policeman 2
What's the matter? He love Apes?

Policeman 1
Don't it figure?


What's the best bit of the film?

Well it's probably the end, if I'm being honest, in which Caesar concludes his riot by letting his rage briefly take-over himself. He calms himself down just before he has some pricks head caved in but it's still pretty fun to see him ranting with a fire raging behind him and his 'tooled up to the tits' army of monkeys in front of him. Essentially he has that 'battle between the good and evil in him' in his head and in front of a bunch gorillas holding machine guns. Although this scene is made by the performance of Roddy McDowall, in many ways I can't think of a single scene in cinema history that couldn't be improved without the addition of at least a couple of gorillas holding heavy artillery of some description!

What's the worst bit of the film?

 I honestly can't think of one really? Err... maybe the fact that the ending isn't quite as depressing as the previous entry. However beyond having the main ape end his speech by hiding in a cupboard and then dying in some sort of asphy-wank accident I'm not sure how you could really have gotten more depressing than that anyway.

What's the best line?

There's plenty of lines loaded with political subtext, however there was just one near the beginning the made me laugh out loud, so fuck it.. I'm going with that one. I presume this film takes place in a world in which cigarettes are no longer a danger because whilst smoking, one a woman takes a drag, looks at it, and then says, “Funny. Now that I know they won't kill me, I don't enjoy them”.

Is it actually worth a watch?

It's obviously not a classic in the same way that the first is, and it's probably the weakest of the franchise up until now, but it's still great. And it's interesting to watch in order to see quite how much of the reboot Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes has taken from it.