Think back to 2001, right after Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes remake tried to modernize the classic series of films for a new audience. We never thought in a million years that it'd actually be attempted again, much less succeed in a non-ironic context. And yet, last weekend marked the closure of a trilogy of Planet of the Apes films that not only modernized the story of damned dirty apes taking over the world, but also managed to act as a successful prequel to the classic adventures. Of course, with War of the Planet of the Apes culminating in a trilogy of films leading to the conquest of humanity, there's one big problem: we're really going to need a reboot to the original film.
Let's start with the practical aspects, because even though we know the 1968 classic exists, it's so disconnected from the films we've just seen in recent years. The apes are no longer villains, nor do they really seem all that interested in enslaving humanity. Now that could come with a couple more prequels developing the idea of rounding up humans, and Apekind becoming more mentally sophisticated. Those tensions could possibly rear their head as more humans are discovered. But even then, that's forgetting the reason why Planet of the Apes worked so well: it was a product of political issues of its time.
Much like this new trilogy that started with Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the original 1968 film was a sci-fi parable that took on the issue of race relations and social superiority. In the case of the new trilogy, there were still shades of the original film's conflict between humans and apes. However, the focus seemed more on jingoism and the hawks of conflict versus those who have cooler heads and ideals. Again, the Planet of the Apes films took on a mind-set that reflected the political fears of the day, and made them hay for the impending battle of the species. So with this new tone struck, there's going to be a lot of ground that could be more effectively covered with a new spin on that very first film.
Of course, even in a cosmetic sense, having Planet of the Apes connecting directly with War for the Planet of the Apes is a little more difficult due to the advances of motion capture and CGI versus the old fashioned makeup and prosthetics that were used in the classic canon. While this isn't meant to rail against practical effects, it is meant to point out that even though the stories might be able to co-exist, the modern approach to War for the Planet of the Apes and its predecessors basically requires a fresh coat of visual paint to continue its story. The look of the series has changed, and it's a good time to re-imagine the future of the Apes in a new context.
Most importantly, the momentum of the newer films is going to necessitate a new plotline for the returning astronauts, as the series has been reinvigorated with a new approach to storytelling. If you change the Apes, you have to change the humans in order to create a seamless experience that tells one big story to its fullest potential. The reboot of Planet of the Apes has worked like gangbusters, and if the franchise wants to continue in such a direction, it's important to update the rest of the timeline to the story and standards that have brought the brand back in the first place.
Having a new future for the Planet of the Apes saga helps continue the storytelling tradition that's been started with the newer films. At the same time, the newer approach would exist to pay tribute to those original films, as there will undoubtedly be aspects, plot points and characters that would cross over from the older films to any new follow-ups that would be proposed. Ultimately, the one key factor that eluded the original sequence of films would be a great asset for the series going forward, as continuity will be restored, with the story proceeding on the best track possible.
War for the Planet of the Apes is in theaters now.
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CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.
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