What condemned to be a blockbuster
A pacifist blockbuster
The Moses of our day is called Cesar. It is the mission of that incredibly intelligent chimpanzee to lead his (monkey) people to the promised land - and thereby avoid a total war with humans. The ivory dealer Kurtz, invented by Joseph Conrad in "Heart of Darkness" - developed from Francis Ford Coppola in "Apocalypse Now" to Colonel Walter E. Kurtz - now has a new equivalent: Woody Harrelson gives a shaved colonel who deals with a conspiratorial troop and a good deal of paranoia and brutality has entrenched in front of humans and animals. These are the two protagonists, the extreme poles in Matt Reeves "Planet of the Apes 3: Survival" - a coherent, thoughtful, sometimes fast-paced, sometimes surprisingly meditative science fiction parable. She combines the madness of "Apocalypse Now" with the moral strength of "Schindler's List", the allusions to the slavery of "Roots", the outburst fantasies of "Alcatratz" or "The Great Escape" and the campaigns of revenge from "Django Unchained". These plot elements are combined with well-composed, gloomy and never-before-seen images.
Even if »Planet of the Apes« literally comes from a completely different intellectual and artistic cosmos: After Christopher Nolan's oppressive »Dunkirk«, it is the next grim and authentic-feeling war film that almost knocks you over with its imagery. "Planet of the Apes 3" also exudes seriousness in terms of content and a moral urgency that one accepts immediately - although it is actually only about talking monkeys!
The starting point: A medical experiment released substances that potentiate the intelligence of monkeys, but kill people. Later these substances mutate. A virus then causes the few surviving people to lose their language and mental regression to primate level. Despite all attempts by the thoughtful Cesar to avoid the conflicts between decimated humanity and the rising ape population, a bitter war broke out between the parties in the second part of the trilogy.
In the new, third part, the monkeys have withdrawn to hidden camps deep in the forest in the hope of being able to sit out the hatred of the people. But the Colonel's hatred is limitless, and he has sworn his villainous and (human) outcast troops to the death of the primates. The paramilitary unit even has monkeys in its ranks for this project: humiliated collaborators who once followed Cesar's companion and later arch enemy Koba.
Humans can celebrate a temporary victory after a brutal surprise attack and intern and enslave almost all monkeys. These camp scenes (including hunger and torture) are tough fare. But it is astonishing that an entertainment film succeeds in comprehensibly alluding to slavery or even Holocaust dramas (and with monkeys as prisoners!) Without appearing embarrassing or presumptuous . Cesar escapes the raid and from then on is filled with the exact same thirst for revenge that he condemned earlier.
Almost fifty years have passed since Charlton Heston landed as a lost astronaut on the planet of the apes in 1968, which, to his horror, turned out to be Earth. The metamorphosis of the apes is one of the most fascinating elements of the series to this day. And it could never be presented satisfactorily due to technical limitations - until now: You just can't get enough of the slow humanization of the animals, which slowly extends over three films. And even in the third part, the image of monkeys riding high on horseback or using complex weapons is still extremely astonishing - and a lot stranger and more distant than H. R. Giger's alien or colorful fantasy creatures in "Avatar".
The British actor Andy Serkis played an important part in this fascination, as the chimpanzee Cesar played the leading role who far outshone all people (even Woody Harrelson). And even if the figure is partly animated, Serkis gives the monkey a humanity, or better: an authentic monkey-like quality that is almost eerie. The direction takes advantage of this perfection and indulges in long, quiet studies of the ape physiognomy. With his depictions of the beings Gollum ("Lord of the Rings", "Hobbit"), King Kong and now Cesar, Serkis brought a completely new level into entertainment cinema. And that without ever showing his face. For that he has slowly but surely earned the Oscar.
The second part of the monkey trilogy almost completely dispensed with humor, which was a positive surprise. Part three introduces it again, but in such a well-dosed manner that the stupidities actually offer a recovery from the remaining, highly depressive processes. It also turns up - initially a shock! - a sweet little child, a mute orphan girl. But even this otherwise destructive element for any dark sci-fi film is tamed by Reeves and appropriately kept in the background.
In terms of content, it is dangerous and morally borderline to equate people with animals. But one cannot avoid associating the basic conflict described in the trilogy between an established society and a long-suppressed but now rising struggle with the struggle against colonialism or with protests by immigrant societies in exile.
The film is nonetheless (and despite its gun-staring action sequences) one of the very few pacifist blockbusters, because it condemns the war itself - and not just one side of the conflict or a certain way of waging war. And he does not fuel a kokolores like "Peace is more than the absence of war". Reeves' big hit could, with appropriate commercial success, even be trend-setting for the entire genre and encourage studio bosses to smuggle intelligent, dark, consistent, cynical and political elements into their superhero battles.
At this point you can even quote the Washington Post, which has now become a barely legible unjournalistic battle paper: “› Planet of the Apes 3 ‹may have the body of an action film, but it has the soul of an art house drama and the brain of one Political Thrillers. "
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