I mean, c'mon: apes rising up to conquer the world? What a bunch of hackneyed Miocene tripe!
EXT. EUROPEAN RAIN FOREST, 19 MILLION YEARS AGO - DAY
An idyllic jungle scene, erupting with the full spectrum of the rainbow, something out of a Disney movie. Animal calls abound. Familiar-looking, colorful birds flutter about among gorgeous flowers and bright green leaves. The wind rolls through and rustles the foliage aside, revealing a huge cluster of STRANGE, BRIGHTLY-COLORED FRUIT, hanging succulently from the branches, making our mouths water.
We're not alone in that reaction.
Suddenly, we hear a chorus of joyful HOOTS and GRUNTS, presaging the arrival of a band of CATARRHINE MONKEYS, who scamper elatedly across branch-tops, driving away the roosting birds.
There's an arrogance to these almost-familiar monkeys, with their downward-facing nostrils and tails used for balance rather than grasping. They've ruled the primate world for millions of years, and they know it. They want the fruit, and there is no one to stop them.
Except each other. A fight breaks out when it becomes clear there isn't enough fruit to go around. Rocks and bark are thrown. Teeth are bared in screeching contests. Loose leaves rain down from the canopy as the treetops shake from the monkey fight. And finally, there is a victor.
One relatively big male -- we'll call him HANUMAN -- wins the day, with the help of his betas. They form a defensive ring around the fruit, holding off the other bands of monkeys. Their females, some with babies clinging to their fur, come out of hiding, to groom the males and share in the spoils of war.
HANUMAN perches on a high, sturdy branch, as though he's about to give a speech. The others look on with admiration, especially the younger males who envy his position and access to mates.
Though he speaks in hoots and grunts, we can still understand him.
Brothers, friends, wives, lend me your ears. You fought well, and deserve these sweet treats. But we must conserve our strength.
BRASH YOUNG MALE
Finally ready to give up some wives, eh, old man?The other males let forth with hearty monkey-laughs.
No, young one. I'm as strong as ever. But if we are not careful, we will all have to give up more than wives. Maybe everything.This gets everyone's attention.
There's a new creature in our forests. A giant who has come from far away to take our fruits and our bugs and our trees. And he is not alone.
BRASH YOUNG MALE
Bah! More fear-mongering from an old tyrant. Have you seen these giants, Hanuman?HANUMAN cuffs the BRASH YOUNG MALE, silencing him.
No, but others have. It is said they walk like monkeys, but they have no tails. And their arms are too long. And their faces... I am not ashamed to admit, brothers, that I am concerned. Long we have ruled these forests, but I fear our days are ending.
BRASH YOUNG MALE
(now out of cuffing range)
Phish! I'll believe it when I see it, old fool.Other young males hoot their agreement. HANUMAN scowls, ready for a challenge from the BRASH YOUNG MALE, who's puffing his chest and baring his teeth, posturing for a fight.
They circle each other, male and female monkeys alike making room on all sides. But just as they are about to pounce, something in the air changes.
Everyone senses it, and freezes in their tracks. The hooting stops, so they can all be sure they hear it.
Over there! And there! All around them, it's coming through the trees. Something big. And it is not alone.
The monkeys forget their quarrel, and pull in close to one another, HANUMAN and BRASH YOUNG MALE now united in common defense of their band. They all take slow steps back, until they're pressed against each other and can go no farther.
That's when it comes out of the forest, slow, confident, arrogant as a monkey and twice as cunning. It does not need to push aside the leaves and branches; instead, they simply seem to flow around him.
After a beat, others like him follow. They have the monkeys surrounded.
These new creatures look half-monkey, half-something-else. They walk on the branch-tops, using the palms of their hands and the soles of their feet, like monkeys do. Their hips move in monkey-like fashion, too, but are more flexible.
And there are differences that set them dramatically apart. First, and most obviously, they have no tails, and this accounts for the strange grace of their movements. Their bodies achieve balance in the treetops through other, more subtle structures. Their arms are too long. Their hands and shoulders seem more pliable, with greater ranges of movement. And their faces, too, are all off-kilter compared to the monkeys, in subdued and awful ways.
Alone, these differences would not stand out. But taken together, they make something completely new, and completely alien to the Miocene world.
These are the first apes.
Their leader, an old and powerful-looking gray-hair, steps forward with the self-assurance of a natural ruler. We'll never know his real name, but one day we'll call him, and his people, PROCONSUL.
We have not come to fight, friend monkeys, but be assured, we will if we must. I know we look strange to you, but we are brothers nonetheless.
Then why do you steal our food, brother?
Steal? The food is ours. As is the land, though we come from far away. We are the first of our kind, but we will not be the last.HANUMAN puts up a good show, enough to save face with the monkeys. But PROCONSUL cuffs him, and it's clear this fight is over before it started. The monkeys all hang their heads in shame... all except HANUMAN, who nonetheless looks away.
There is no shame in standing aside. You have been good stewards of the land, but your time has passed. That is the way of things. Just as you assumed the mantle from the tarsiers, now we assume it from you. The age of monkeys is at an end. The world now belongs us.At a gesture from PROCONSUL, the apes make room and let the monkeys pass. One by one they leave, mourning the end of their supremacy, fading into the background of the jungle.
HANUMAN is the last to go. He dares one last moment of eye contact, and hands PROCONSUL the juicy FRUIT he'd been defending.
PROCONSUL nods his thanks, and lets the King of the Monkeys go to his people.
When the monkeys have gone, PROCONSUL looks to his fellow apes and smiles. They all hoot and screech triumphantly as he hands out the fruit.
Truly, it is a new world...
So, you've probably figured out by now that this isn't a review of the new James Franco vehicle in which uplifted and put-upon apes launch a revolution by attacking humans during rush hour (at our most vulnerable!).
And I'm not going to post any such review. I'm not even sure I'm going to see the movie, at least in a theater. But I will confess to being perversely interested in it, for two reasons.
1) It looks like it has an anti-vivisection message (though it'll probably be of the typical, reactionary Hollywood science-phobic variety, and not one that makes people think about the ethics of animal experimentation); and,
2) It's gotten me fired up about an old paleo-passion of mine: the Miocene apes, who dominated Eurasia for millions of years, radiating into possibly 100 different species in 40 genera, including the lineage who eventually migrated back into Africa and became us. This was the real "rise of the planet of the apes," and it's one of the most fascinating periods of mammalian evolution, to boot (don't let the corny screenplay above dissuade you).
So, in a shameless attempt to capitalize on Google searches for the movie's title, here are some great links about both subjects.
Learn about the true Planet Of The Apes. Way cooler than the movies.
And then, stick your neck out and do something to help preserve the apes we still have left.