July 17, 2017
Why Do The ‘Planet of the Apes’ Prequel Titles Make Absolutely No Sense?
(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, and opinionated about something that makes us very happy…or fills us with indescribable rage. In this edition: the titles of the Planet of the Apes movies are in the wrong order and it’s. Driving. Us. Crazy.)
The Planet of the Apes reboot franchise is many things — stunning technological achievements, emotionally resonant storytelling, and testaments to genre filmmaking. But one thing they just can’t get right are the dang titles.
A title serves as people’s first impression of a movie and presents the general themes of what that film will be about. But when the titles don’t match with the content of the movie, people aren’t going to remember what the hell it was about. As for the Planet of the Apes films, as accomplished and incredible as they are, I cannot for the life of me remember what order they are supposed to be in.
Just as a reminder, the Planet of the Apes prequel titles go in this order: Rise of the Planet of the Apes, followed by Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and finally War for the Planet of the Apes. It’s as if someone arbitrarily chose nouns to place in front of the franchise title without any consideration for how they would look next to each other. Because no one in their right mind would think that “rise” goes before the “dawn.”
To use the worst writing cliche, Merriam-Webster defines “rise” as “an act of going up; an ascent.” One of the definitions of “dawn” is “a beginning.” You see where I’m going with this.
For the record, the correct order of the film titles should be: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, War for the Planet of the Apes, and finally Rise of the Planet of the Apes. I and 20-plus of my Internet friends agree.
All of the movies are misnamed. Would fit more thematically if they were named: DAWN –> WAR –> RISE.
— Hoai-Tran Bui (@htranbui) July 14, 2017
Why should it be this way? For starters, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes feels much more like a war movie than War for the Planet of the Apes does — there’s dissent amongst the ranks, Caesar’s existential grappling with morality, and many, many more battle scenes. Meanwhile, War, while it has one or two immaculately staged action scenes, is more of a sweeping epic than a gritty war film.
And the first film, well it just makes sense that the dawn of a new planet would take place before anything rises. It’s a mixed metaphor, but I’m going to stick by it! Besides, it’s too late to re-title the entire trilogy as Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, High Noon of the Planet of the Apes, and Dusk of the Planet of the Apes. (Wait, this would have been a perfect match for the Western allegories that run throughout in War — 20th Century Fox, hire me.) Although it’s not too late for Matt Reeves to consider the last title for his next film.
If you’ve noticed that I haven’t answered the question I asked in my headline, it’s because there probably isn’t one — I don’t think much thought really went into why Rise had to go before Dawn. (And don’t tell me it’s because there’s an uprising of apes, they should have freakin’ called it Uprising, then.)
So here are some dumb explanations for why these confusing titles are the way they are, until Reeves and Rupert Wyatt up and explain to us their perplexing title choices.
Reason #1: “Rise” Is Like So Hot Right Now
Rise of the Planet of the Apes came out in 2011. The Dark Knight Rises came out in 2012. You see the pattern here? I was going to try to work in The Force Awakens into this because “awakens” is another word for “rise” but that came out in 2015 so it probably doesn’t work.
Reason #2: It’s All An Elaborate Baking Metaphor
Bread is the only thing that rises before the dawn. I mean, I think so, because I don’t bake. Something about yeast and cold temperatures. And I don’t know, people are warring over that last piece of bread that is the Planet Earth.
Reason #3: It’s A Secret Message Using the Lyrics to Les Misérables songs
They were schoolboys /Never held a gun… / Fighting for a new world / That would rise up like the sun. /Where’s that new world /now the fighting’s done? — “Turning,” Les Misérables. Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg, lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer.
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