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Film Frenzy: Episode 14 - We Conclude Simian Season with One Final Ape-Out Session

Alex shares his thoughts on Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes and how the film stacks up to Matt Reeves' fantastic former trilogy, and what precedent it sets up for the future. We also briefly preview Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga following its mega reception at Cannes this year.

Audio transcription

"Hello everyone and welcome back to, I think this is our 14th episode of Film Frenzy. It's just me and Alex again. Just the true Film Frenzy fans really. Yeah, we're the Film Frenziest.
The Frenziest of Film Fans. But anyway, today we're going to be doing what we promised we'd be doing for months at this point and we're going to be concluding the Simian season."

"Years. Well, it felt like years so far. We've been talking about apes and monkeys for months now and it's time to do the episode. Now, small disclaimer, we have one ape expert in this room here today because Alex has seen Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, but I have not yet had a chance to see it. So we're going to be leaning on you, Alex, for this one."

"That's fine. Also, you know. So go on, go on. Tell us about it then. Is it a good film?
Is it worth watching? Well, if I, if I, if I may, if I may, I'm just going to do my ape walk. And, you know, I'm going to ape out a little bit. If you can see on this, you need your hips back. Can you see on the thing? You need your hips back. You need to walk like this. You know. And he's gone. And he's gone. And he'll come back. I did see the video in the... Sorry, I fell off my chair. What was the, it was one of the talk shows, right, and they had Kevin Durant and the guy who plays... Who's the lead monkey in this, in this film? Owen Teague, Noah. Yeah, that was, that was really... It's baffling, isn't it?
Because you can see how it feels real when you watch him, even when they're not even in mocap. It's bizarre. So it's really well done. Kevin Durant is like proximate. What a wonderful day! When he does that in the whole film. And he's like, he comes over and even when they're doing like the whole, you know, you see that bit on the talk show. I think I've seen the same bit where like Owen Teague is like doing this. Yeah, yeah, yeah."

"And they go full like ape. They really ape out. Like, that's what I've always loved about ever since sort of the Andy Serkis ones, is they've committed to the bit of like, what if apes were genuinely that smart? And I don't know, this film, it's the start of a new trilogy, right? So you can't, like, it's got a lot to do."

"It's got a lot to set up. I saw it in IMAX. I don't know what my obsession is with IMAX lately, but I think I accidentally booked IMAX seats because I was just trying to see it whenever, but it feels really long. And story-wise, it feels like fan fiction of the Andy Serkis movies, because those movies are really, really well written, like surprisingly well written. It's like when you tell someone, oh, Kung Fu Panda's really well written. And they're like, well, the movie called Kung Fu Panda has decent, like, writing in it. And it's like, yeah, yeah, it does."

"It's the same with like the Planet of the Apes movies. It's like the movies where someone is going half the time is like really well. Yes, it is. Even though like half of the dialogue is just, you know, someone saying something in like broken English because they're learning to talk half the time. Those Matt Reeves movies are like categorically goated. This one is, it's okay."

"It's decent. It has, like, Proximus is the best character by far. The Ape King. Yeah. Because he's like, he's Proximus Caesar. They don't explain whether he's like actually a descendant of Caesar or whether he's like just claiming that name, which is another thing of like, there's so many interesting points of this movie that they could do, and they don't really. So it's, as I say, it feels a bit fan fiction-y. It's a bit by the books, by the numbers. It sort of takes some steps back when it feels like it should take them forward. Like, the human element is still stronger than, like, if I had my perfect film, it would just be all apes. If I genuinely, because I think that's where the interesting part is of what the hell does the ape society look like? That's the bit that everyone loves. And like, yeah, in Dawn and War, when they're fighting the humans, that's interesting because it's like, who's going to take over this post-apocalyptic world? Yeah. Whereas now, it's like 300 years on. Surely the apes should have a bit more of a grasp, but there's still this thing of, no, humans can, humans can make a comeback, you know? Humans can come back from this. There's a lot of interesting ideas. I hope they're explored in the trilogy, but I would say this film, it feels like a book adaptation, as if someone adapted a book bit by bit by bit by bit."

"And you'll probably see this if you wat- when you watch it, because it feels like the story is very da da da da da da and then and then and then and then and then, rather than like- so Proximus, for example, doesn't show up until like two-thirds of the way in. Whereas I was thinking it would be like, okay, we have these sort of dual protagonists, in a sense. You have Proximus and you have Noah, and they are on a collision course. And that's kind of true, but at the same time, you're much more focused on Noah and his journey, and his journey isn't always that interesting. Yeah."

"He's just doing stuff. Yeah, it's- it's- it's interesting because, as you say, this film isn't just- it's not just a movie, right? It's not like- it's an experience. Yeah, not like when we saw- It's got me jumping on my chair, it's got me- you know, it's got me aping it out.
It was Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which was the first one of the Matt Reeves trilogy."

"Yeah. Like when that one came out, it felt like, okay, here's- here's the start of- well, we're rebooting Monkeys, we don't know where it's going to go, but here's- here's- here's the start of something, right? Whereas this one here, you know that it's- especially with the way that sort of the film industry has trended as of late, you know that it's not just a movie. Like, it's going to continue on somewhere, there's going to be more. And there's even- I think there was even a rumour recently that they want to extend it to, like, nine total films. I think that includes the Matt Reeves films. Yeah. So there's, like, three trilogies, essentially. So they could go, like, this is, like, the medieval era. Yeah, and then humans will come back. And then they go super modern, you know, they're all like- Yeah, they'll be going up to space or something, I don't know."

"I don't know, it's just- I- I've always enjoyed the- the idea of, um, the apes films, but I do think that they need to be- yeah, they need to just be more about the apes, less about the humans.
It's the same with, like, Godzilla Kong. Like, people come to watch these movies and, like, I'm sure it's really expensive. Like, to actually make the full ape movie must be so much more expensive. Also, by the way, horrible American accent on Freya Allen. Absolutely diabolical."

"Like, genuinely bad. Like, how did no one take that- how do they shoot those takes and go, good job, Freya, you know? Like, what the hell? Like, genuinely immersion-breaking stuff. When the poor, like, Owen Teague and Kevin Durand have gone to ape school for six weeks, could they not have got a dialect coach for Freya Allen for that amount of time? It really annoyed me. But she can just cast an American actress, you know? Or just cast- or just let her speak in a British accent, because guess what? The world's been over for 300 years, it doesn't matter what people sound like anymore. It doesn't matter. Like, I know it's set in America, and they're still sort of- I believe they're still sort of on the west coast, because the first films- the first- Rise takes place in San Francisco, and then they're in the Redwoods, and so they- and Dawn still is that as their main territory. I can't remember where they end up in war. I need to re- I re-watched Rise, I haven't re-watched Dawn in war yet, I really want to. But, like, also, in this movie, there's two, like, fake-out deaths, like, to the point where, like, someone gets washed away, and you're like, okay, well, they're gonna come back at the end, because we haven't seen a body. Because although these films aren't, like, really gratuitously violent, they are still capable of showing you when someone's dead. Like, in Rise, when that gorilla gets shot, and he has, like, the- before he dies, you know? Like, Caesar runs over to him and cradles his head, he's like, you know, it's like, you know, the- the most tragic death of any movie ever. And, you know, you get that all the time in- in- in the Apes movie, in the Matt Reeves versions, but in these ones, it's like, someone- two people fall into water, and you don't see their bodies, and you're like, well, surely they're gonna come back in the second one, which just felt quite cheap to me. And if they don't, what the hell was the- what the hell were those death scenes? Yeah, I- that's the thing with- with these Apes movies as well, that I'm kind of getting concerned about, is that this is the fourth one all set in the same location."

"And, like, it reminds me a bit of Star Wars and the Tatooine problem, which, granted, has become less of a problem as of late, I will say. But, yeah, we went through that phase for a while, where it was like, oh, this new Star Wars film? Yeah, where is it set? Oh, it's on a desert planet. You're like, all right, yeah, okay. That's what you know Tatooine like. Yeah, so, I don't know, I just- I think that you start this new trilogy, yes, it's set significantly further in the future, right? That- that's one thing, so you do have the sort of time difference in your favor. But I'd like to see an Apes film that is set somewhere else, you know? It's- it's the same- Oh, bloody! It's me! It doesn't need to be- It's Asia! It doesn't need to be in, like, you know, in Europe or anything. It could be- it could be Australia, or it could be, uh, you know, somewhere like China or something. How many Apes are there?
In Australia? That's the only question, is- because, as well, I- I do- I- I get the point, but in- at least in the Matt Reeves ones, they sort of need to all be in that location. Oh, yeah, yeah. Because it's only been, like, a few years since the- the disease, and all the Apes that we see, like, I'm not sure how it worked. I'm not, you know, I- I'm- I love the movies, but I'm not that much for Lawmaster, so I don't know whether the disease that wiped out all the humans was carried over to the Apes and made all the Apes smart across the world, or whether it's still just the descendants of the original ones that Caesar made smart with that drug. By all- by sort of, like, law of elimination, I think we can say the fact that America fell apart as quickly as it did pretty much implies that the rest of the world fell apart, because otherwise, you're like, oh, America's collapsing and falling apart in Europe."

"I'm like, you know what? Figure this out. We're all right. See you later, boys. Yeah, so I don't know. I think- I just think there's a lot of question marks elsewhere that could be explored. It's like- it's like the whole, um, you know, back in the 80s when they did lots of, like, sort of alien and sci-fi movies, like, where are the aliens landed? It's in America, and you're like, all right, okay, well. Maybe they're going there, though."

"Maybe next movie we'll go in there. Maybe, maybe that's a good point, but I just think there's a lot of opportunity to explore different, sort of, elements and stuff, and, yeah, you know, break away a little bit from Caesar.
You know, like, Caesar's- Caesar's story was great. Let's see the story exist and be that sort of thing. The Caesar symbol, by the way. They have a Caesar symbol in this movie. Oh, do they? Yeah, and they hold that- they hold their hands up together like this. Oh, it's not the- it's got the apes together. It's like the sticks."

"That's- that's the- apes together is the signing. That's the sticks that Caesar, like, doesn't break in the first movie, so that's- that's the symbolism there. They should have done it in Rome. Say his words! They should have done it in Rome and had Caesar the emperor. It's basically like that. I mean, that's the sort of vibe that Proximus gives off, is that he's like- like, they even have a bit where someone says that, like, Proximus loves Roman history. Like, he loves learning about ancient Rome and stuff, so he must- he, like, he's a bit of a cosplayer, I think, which is a really interesting detail, which makes me wish that he was in the movie longer, because, like, ape politics is something that it could be really fun. No, it should- I think that's the thing, though, isn't it?
That you just think that surely you could have taken a few more sort of risks with the story."

"Just being, like, you know, this is the story we've seen before, not just in this former trilogy from Matt Reeves, but, like, in all the other apes movies that have ever been in existence. They've all been very similar to this sort of theme, so I think that there's clearly parts of the story that takes place on the east coast of America, though, because there's the scene with the Statue of Liberty, right? I think. Is that not one- not in the trailer where it's, like, buried beneath loads of sand? Or maybe that was a, you know, a nod towards one of the older films, because, you know, one of the older sort of films back in when they used the actual costumes and stuff, they looked like Sasquatches, essentially. Yeah. That was- a lot of that was set on the east coast in New York, so. The old ones, yeah, yeah. I just think that it'd be nice to see these stories expanded to different sort of areas, you know? It's- just take a little bit of a risk, and it- you know what actually reminds me of a little bit as well? Same sort of idea, is Mad Max. I know we're going to talk about Furiosa in a moment, but I just think, like, you know, Mad Max- Mad Max is great because it's- it perfectly depicts what you would expect from apocalyptic Australia, like, as a stereotype, right? Yeah. And granted, the Mad Max series is- it's a much more, sort of, consolidated effort, right? There's- you don't see many Mad Max films."

"There used to be a lot of them in the 80s, but nowadays it's, like, quite rare to see a Mad Max thing, so you don't mind that it's set in Australia. But if we're going to continue seeing more of these films, like, it seems like we're going to be getting, now, judging by the reception of Furiosa- granted, box office sales- George Miller has a lot of ideas. He does have a lot of ideas. But, like, I'd love to see what Mad Max is like in a different continent, maybe, like, South America or something. Yeah. Like, it'd be- What Mad Max is like with apes."

"Yes! Maybe it's the same world. It's the same universe! Like, there's not that many apes in Australia, naturally. I don't think there's that many ape species. But that's the- I think that's the theme, though, isn't it? Like, there's not many apes in America. So, it was all, you know, it was all part of- A lot of zoos. A lot of zoos, a lot of testing facilities. But that's the thing, you can take that concept and translate it to so many different regions around the world. Yeah. Because if we were just talking about apes, then, Christ, it'd have to be set in, like, Africa, right? Or, I guess, maybe Asia? Asia, yeah. But then again, they mention, right? They mention gibbons in this movie. There's never, ever been a gibbon in any of these movies, even though they're apes. And so, surely, like, because if orangutans, gorillas, and chimpanzees all can benefit from this, like, Alzheimer's curing disease or whatever. Yeah."

"Then, and they even mention gibbons as, like, a species of ape that are also on that level.
Why do we not see them? Like, why are there no gibbons around? Because I know that they're, like, not going to be nearly as strong or as whatever, but they're funny little guys, and they could be a great little comic side character. If you have, like, you know, Graham the Gibbon, who, like, flies around, doing his shtick, wears, like, some jean shorts or something. That, you know, it's, like, the guy in, you know, the one in War? They're, like, the little chimp in War, played by Steve Zahn, who, like, just has his, like, little Parker on the whole time. He's got, like, a little coat and a little beanie hat, and he just gives the thumbs up to everyone all the time. Just do him again. Like, it's, you need, as well as these films, like, Matt Reeves is a very serious director, you know? Like, he does things, like, the Batman is not a very joke-heavy movie, and neither are the Rise, War, and Dawn, but they have a joke character in them most of the time, and they have some quite, like, funny bits, because at the end of the day, it is the ape movie, you know? It's not, uh, it's not going to be winning any major awards. It's not a Schindler's list at the end of the day. It's not a Schindler's list. But no, uh, let's talk about movies in general, then, for a moment, because, uh, now this is out, and again, we've, as of recording this, the review embargo for Furiosa has lifted. Not because it's, like, widely been viewed, but because the Cannes film premiere has taken place, and we've seen that, basically, it's massively acclaimed. Lots of, lots of people giving it top marks. Some, a lot of people are saying that it's not quite as good as Fury Road, but they're saying, like, it's really, really good either way. So, um, with Furiosa coming up, with Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes here, and with Dune Part 2 in mind, what do we think is going to be, like, the sort of packing order for action films so far in 2024? It's weird that action films are the films that you're thinking of, as well, when you're, like, I mean, maybe Dune's not necessarily an action, but it has a lot of action in it. They're the films that we're thinking, like, okay, they're probably going to be up for a lot of awards. There'll probably be some, like, indie darlings from France and Korea that end up making out the rest of the lists, as well, but... Yorgos with his kinds of kindness. Yeah, he's, you know, the, uh, Family Guy bit, where, like, they're all about to drown, and Peter's like, I did not care for the grandfather. Yeah, yeah. It's just upon itself, and I was, you know, that's, that's how I feel sometimes about Yorgos Lanthimos, is I love The Lobster. Killing of a Sacred Deer is very good, but over time he has both become more tame and insisted upon his own, like, weirdness more."

"Like, the dialogue in The Lobster and Killing of a Sacred Deer is so strange that you know that it's putting some people off, whereas in Poor Things and The Favourite, especially Poor Things, I'm like, this is, this is, like, Yorgos for the masses. This is not Yorgos at his best. Maybe I'm a gatekeeper, maybe I'm a horrible little man, you know, but I'm... But yeah, Furiosa, um, it's got that killer theme, as well, you know. That's all I'm hyped to see. As soon as that hits in the theatres, I'm gonna, like, stand up. Yeah, I can't wait for it. George Miller is a director, an action director, unlike pretty much any other ones we ever see. Like, the fact that his main characters barely say anything, and they're still iconic. I know, yeah. When he says 30 lines, I think, like, it doesn't really clock with me how few that lines is until you compare it with Fury Road, and it's like, Tom Hardy said 60 lines, and you're like, he didn't say anything in that movie."

"That's insane. Half that? Like, it's baffling. I think it's, um, I'm really excited for it myself.
I think it's going to be excellent. I can't wait to actually go and check it out in cinemas.
Um, it's got a lot riding on it. Fury Road is fantastic as, like, an action film. It's, it's, it came at that time, as well, where it's, like, a lot of practical effects. It's very tight, as well, you know. It's not a long film. It's, it's one of those films, it's, like, two hours long."

"It's, it's pretty much exactly what you want out of a movie. Exactly, yeah. It's, like, all shot is one thing. It's, it's, it's, it's, like, the perfect, the epitome of what an action film should and can be. So, I think there's a lot riding on this film, and, uh, judging by the, the reception we've seen from Cannes, it's, it's up there. It's seven minutes standing ovation. Can you imagine standing and clapping for seven minutes? That's just Cannes, like, for lack of phrasing, it's just Cannes bullshit in a nutshell, isn't it? Yeah. Like, who, seven minutes standing ovation. I would, apparently, I'd be looking to give it 15. That's like, second, that's like, yeah, yeah, some people get 15. If you get five, it's, like, you should, you should end your life, you know? You, like, you have made nothing for these people, and yet they'll still give you a five-minute standing ovation. Five minutes on my hands clapping. My hands are going to be sore as hell. Yeah, you know what I don't get, as well, is, like, what do the actors and the director do? They just stand there, they go, thank you, thank you very much. It's like a video I've seen of Annie Taylor-Joy, and she's like, thank you, thank you very much. And Chris Hemsworth's just, sort of, like, taking it all in, being, like, Dementors in real life. That's the one part of, like, Cannes and, sort of, movie culture I just never understood. That sort of elitist, sort of, let's just do it, let's just, five, seven minutes straight of clapping. Yeah. I can't get behind that. Let's go for orphan livers for dessert. Yeah. Yeah. That's, it just baffles me that bit, but, um, I don't know, I think it looks, I'm really excited for either way, and I think it could be, the thing is with, with Furiosa, what does worry me a bit, though, is that I just don't think it's going to quite land in a commercial sense."

"I think Kingdom has, Kingdom has what, uh, you know, the previous trilogy going for it, the people looking, oh, I know, and all that stuff, but, like, Furiosa, I can't remember, I don't think Fury Road was, like, a massive success commercially, like, box office sales wise, and that, I think it made, like, a good 700 million, which is a lot of money, but this is a time when, like, the box office was booming, and, like, billion dollar movies were popping out left, right, and center. It made 380 million at the box office. Oh, 380, that's even worse."

"So, that's what worries me a little bit, is I don't know whether it's necessarily going to be, like, the commercial success that we see. And it had 154 million to 185 million budget, so I don't even think you can really, like, that's barely a success. If we count in the double, if we go for the lower estimate of that, and we say you need double that, that's barely a success. Yeah, that's what worries me a bit, because, like, we know how production companies can be these days, and how cutthroat they can be, and if this film doesn't make the money it needs to make, we probably won't see another Mad Max film for a while, if ever, from George Miller, that is. So, that's what worries me a little bit, but I hope it does well. I hope it succeeds, and I hope people are going to watch it and enjoy it, because it looks absolutely stunning. And it killed Anya Taylor-Joy as well. Have you seen that interview where she's, like, she just, like, looks like he asked, the interviewer, like, asks her, like, what was it, you know, what was the experience, like, filming for, um, George Miller, and she just, like, blank stares at him, because she, like, she's still Furiosa, that's why. Well, no, she was like, ask me in 20 years. Like, because, and it was the same with Fury Road as well, like, Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy had a massive feud. I don't know if you know of this, but apparently, like, they had to coax Tom Hardy out of his trailer. Like, I just imagine them just, like, leaving little treats on the floor to bring him out. I did read the report about that film. It was baffling. It sounds insane. It's the same with, like, um, Megalopolis, you know, the Frank Francis Ford Coppola thing? Well, like, The Guardian did a thing where they spoke to a bunch of, like, cast and crew, where apparently it was, like, insane. I think that's a very old head movie director thing, though, where they just, like, they don't give a rat. They just want their movie done in their way, and so they're gonna just, like, smoke weed in their trailer all day for the case of Francis Ford Coppola, or push actors to the level of exhaustion, as in George Miller in Mad Max, these Mad Max movies. Or spend, yeah, or go 100 million over budget, like Ridley Scott. Yeah, or sell your vineyards, as Francis Ford Coppola did, to, like, fund this movie. I love it. I love it. I can't wait for it to fail. It's gonna be such a Babylon. Oh, yeah, I've watched that trailer a couple of times, and I cannot understand it, and I think it looks an absolute disaster, and I'm a very open person when it comes to movies. I like to experience all kinds of different ones, and artistic flair, and all that, but this movie, to me, just looks like a disaster waiting to happen, and I think you can see that, as well, considering the fact that it doesn't have a production company attached to it. Not that you need one to produce it, but, like, he doesn't have a distribution partner, so, like, whoa. I don't know what he's expecting of it. Does he just want the critical success, or is he expecting it to make money? I think he just wants to make the movie, and let that be it. It's been, like, 40 years in the making. Yeah. This movie, and I don't even think he cares what the critics say, because the critics are probably going to pan it, because if it's any, it, like, as I say, it gives me a lot of Babylon vibes, and if it's, if it's like that, then the critics are going to pan it, anyway, because they did not like Babylon. I don't know. Babylon's a bad movie."

"I agree. I think Babylon is way too long, about an hour too long. It's way too long. It's, it insists upon itself, as Peter Griffin would say, and it also is, like, like, Damon Chazelle made my favorite movie of all time, and yet, I don't think he's made that great of one since, so, like.
That's a good nutshell, isn't it? I mean, I don't know whether he'll get a big budget film again in the future, because he's made a lot of bad movies in a row, or not necessarily bad movies, but, like, poorly. Babylon's bad. Babylon is bad, but I mean, he's done some other movies as well that have just not been a success, I would say. Yeah. But anyway, enough babbling about Babylon, and we should probably wrap this up, because we've been going on for a while, so, yeah, this has been episode 14 of Film Frenzy. We'll be back next week, maybe to talk about Furio, so maybe it'd be the week after."

"I'm not too sure about that, but either way, we'll be back next week for something else, so stay tuned for it. Until then, hope you enjoy, well, yeah, we'll see you on the other side, I guess.
Take care, everyone."

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