Apes Doing Cool Stuff (in Movies)

There is a billboard. Iterations of it are everywhere. It’s for an upcoming movie. That movie is Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. The billboard is magical. Wonderful. Epic, as the kids would say. It features a digitized but very realist image of a dystopian future. The Golden Gate Bridge smolders in the background, missing a sizable portion of its midsection. In the middle background, a group of glowering gorillas looks out at the billboard’s onlookers. The gorillas are steely. Mean. Scary. Ready to kill and to steal beer. Featured prominently in the middle of this billboard is an impressive, sweating, sputtering black steed, captured mid-gallop, barreling toward an unseen assailant. On the back of this noble animal is a full-grown chimpanzee. It rides the horse like an expert, like an old friend of all things equine. The chimpanzee is enraged, exhilarated, full of the wind of battle. It howls in warlike frenzy, happy to be lost in the primal violence of his primate brain. He hoists above his head a rifle, prepared to kill, should the situation call for it.

Related: Matt Reeves & Andy Serkis on Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 

Apes are inherently amusing, and it’s difficult to explain why. Chimps are typically dangerous animals, known for their hot tempers. They look vaguely human, if the human’s face were decrepit and inscrutable. They are scary a lot of the time, and yet we tend to cast them as comedians in movies. We put them on skates, give them cigars, and force them to wash cats, and we snicker at their human similarities. They are akin to monsters we treat like party clowns. And there’s something silly, fun, and amusing about that. So when an ape brandishes a rifle, we perhaps have an unconscious pang of recognition; we know that this is what that chimp has always secretly wanted.

The litany of cool stuff done by apes in movies is long and varied. Each one taps into what apes and monkeys really want from the world. When we see a chimp do something oddly human-like, they are fulfilling their only known destiny. They are becoming whole. Let CraveOnline walk you through some of the best monkey dreams committed to film. What can apes and monkeys do? And what do they really want to do?

Witney Seibold is the head film critic for Nerdist, and a contributor on the CraveOnline Film Channel, and co-host of The B-Movies Podcast. You can read his weekly Trolling articles here on Crave, and follow him on “Twitter” at @WitneySeibold, where he is slowly losing his mind. 


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