Planet of the Apes Gets Serious and Goes Hard Science

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Fox is close to nailing down its new entry in the Planet of the Apes franchise: Called Caesar, it's a flick about the super-intelligent monkey who is an ancestor of the new rulers of Earth. Scott Frank will be directing and writing, which is a good sign: He wrote the amazing reincarnation thriller Dead Again, as well as smart suspense flicks The Interpreter and The Lookout. He's also divulged some details about how Caesar will deviate from Apes canon.


As Apes afficionados know, Caesar is the name of the first super-smart ape to lead the slave apes to revolution in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (followed by my favorite flick in the series, Battle for the Planet of the Apes). In Conquest, however, Caesar is the son of time-traveling apes Cornelius and Zira - he's far more evolved than his enslaved brethren on near-future Earth. So he's able to lead the revolution partly because he's from a far-future version of the intelligent apes.

But in Frank's movie, set in 2009, Caesar will be the result of the first genetic experiments with uplifting ape intelligence. He'll be mute, able to communicate only through sign language. Frank's said he wants to be as true as possible to contemporary science and just tweak it a little bit. So far, so good: We already have apes who can communicate via sign language.

Apparently one of the big concerns Frank has right now, as he goes into a rewrite on the script, is how to represent Caesar. He's totally opposed to ape suits, which were the preferred mode in other movies (including Tim Burton's execrable remake). So he's trying to figure out how to make the ape a photorealistic CGI creation with a face that's expressive enough to make him sympathetic despite the fact that he doesn't talk.

One thing we know for sure: Caesar will be leading a revolution. Or at least that's what Production Weekly said. Here's their synopsis:

The origins of how the Apes took over Earth. A hyper-intelligent chimp raised by humans incites a worldwide ape revolution and causes the downfall of mankind.

Scott Frank Tells CHUD He's Not Remaking Conquest of the Planet of the Apes [via CHUD]

Planet of the Apes Gets a Director [via CinemaBlend]




If we consider the original body of Ape films to be canon, there is one important departure from this that the proposed plot would lead to.

It was implied, but never really made clear, in the original films that Caesar, by being the offspring of Cornelius an Zira, represented a split in the timeline. This would be a plot device that was way overused in later sci-fi. Caesars birth on contemporary Earth seemingly caused a different timeline to occur in which man and ape would live in a future harmony and not discord. The timeline which Cornelius and Zira were native to did not experience this, ultimately leading to the destruction of the planet and their own escape to the past.

Additionally, the original series hinged heavily upon humanities own self destructive nature as a central theme. It wasn't an advanced ape that lead to humanities downfall but rather humanities own vices and inability to handle the nuclear bomb. Intelligent apes arose from these ashes possessed with many of the same downfalls and much of the same arrogance as the human race that caused the wasteland.

I would study the first Planet of the Apes movie carefully, paying particular attention to the social and scientific themes that the film conveyed when considering any remake.