Thursday, July 20, 2017

Mo Maurice

Last Wednesday I got to see the newest movie of the recent Apes trilogy, War for the Planet of the Apes.  I got to see it as part of a promotion where you got to see all the movies back to back to back.  It was a lot of fun because movie theaters are very well air-conditioned and these are very good movies.  In fact, I may have written a positive review about at least one of them.  As you may or may not know, (you probably should know) this trilogy is a prequel to the original Planet of the Apes movies that came out in the 60's and 70's.  The new trilogy essentially tells us how the aforementioned apes became superior to the humans, a question I didn't know I wanted answered until I watched Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.  As far as prequel trilogies go, this is top tier stuff.  The movies are compelling, the motion capture apes are astounding, and the characters captivating.  War for the Planet of the Apes was no different.  It built on what made the first two movies so successful while also adding fresh blood, most notably Woody Harrelson's appearance as the Colonel.  As advertised this is a film in which there is a war for the planet that is going to be occupied by super intelligent apes, but I wouldn't really call this a war movie.  It's definitely an ape movie, and I'd argue it's a snow movie.  For a while there it's a buddy travel movie and it's, to an extent, a revenge movie.  It's everything you could ever want in a movie called War for the Planet of the Apes.  It's earned an El Guapo stamp of approval.

Part of the reason I like to watch movies chronologically is because it serves as a refresher for the movies that came before.  In this case there was a bunch of things from Rise and Dawn that I didn't remember that came up in War.  But I also like doing it this way because it's easier for me compare the movies to each other.  I like seeing how the motion capture technology got better from movie to movie.  (As good as it is in Rise, there's a very noticeable jump in the technology when you get to Dawn.)  But the real reason I wanted to watch the trilogy in succession is so that I could get triple the dosage of my favorite ape.  No, not Caesar, though he is an impressive chimp.  Nope, not you either Rocket.  You wish, Koba! Bingo! It is Maurice, the sign language fluent orangutan.  This bad boy right below.

Some fun facts about orangutans: Orangutans are classified as the genus Pongo and are divided into two species, Borneo and Sumatran orangutans.  Orangutans are exclusively native to Asia and can live to over 30 years in captivity and the wild.  (That's wild!)  Their diet is mainly composed of fruit and they are some of the most intelligent apes on the planet, having the ability to use sophisticated tools to build nests.  There were studies in the 60's and 70's that proved these orange angels could learn signs.  They are also the first non-humans to exhibit the use of "calculated reciprocity".  This means they are willing to help out other orangutans so long as the payment is equal to the favor they are doing.  Orangutans are easily in the Mt. Rushmore of primates.  (The other three are the chimpanzee, the gorilla and the lemur.)  Unfortunately they are also critically endangered, due mostly to poaching and the destruction of their habitat.  (Humans suck.)

Now some fun facts about Maurice:  He's an orangutan.  (Duh.)  He is played by Karin Konoval, who also plays "court clerk" in Rise of the Planet of the Apes.  (That's called range.)  He knows how to sign prior to Caesar giving his fellow apes the retrovirus that made them smarter.  He used to be a circus animal.  He is also the first ape at the ape shelter that is nice to Caesar, starting a friendship that will last three films.  While Caesar was the fearless, thoughtful and intelligent leader, Maurice was the compassionate and wise voice of of reason.  Just look at his face: his eyes are so warm and filled with wonder and curiosity.  It's no wonder Caesar made him such an integral part of his colony.  He third in command of the ape army, though things got shuffled when Koba committed treason in the second film.  He was also a member of the ape council and an educator of the youth.  His role is further extended in the latest movie.  Maurice is probably one of the few members of the colony that can call Caesar out on his shit.  But for as much Maurice there was in the three movies, I couldn't help but feeling like it wasn't enough.  I wanted mo'.  Mo' Maurice.

But why limit Maurice to just to these Ape films.  Looking back at this year in film, there's been a lot of good movies.  But good isn't great and there's always room for improvement.  The following movies could have benefited from having an orangutan that knew sign language.

Wonder Woman
I thought Wonder Woman was fantastic.  The action scenes were just superb and Gal Gadot and Chris Pine really nailed their roles.  It was funny and light when it needed to be, and dark and gloomy when necessary.  It was almost perfect... almost.  For my money, I wasn't a fan of the third act.  Some people like the fight against Ares, I like my fights more grounded.  Enter Maurice.  The big reveal now is that Ares is no man, but in fact an orangutan that knows how to sign.  This works because Diana knows virtually every language there is to know and I'm going to assume sign is one of them.

Logan might actually have been a perfect movie.  Thinking back on it there is nothing I would want to change or replace.  I just want to add a very beautiful animal that makes me want to be a better person.  That being said a lot of people died in that movie and it seems logical that Mo would face the same fight.  I film where Maurice dies a violent death is not a movie I want to pay for.  So nope.

Fate of the Furious
I'm going to ask you a question and you have to answer very honestly.  If we replaced Vin Diesel with Maurice to play the role of Dom Toretto in any of the Fast movies would you have noticed the difference?  Honestly?  I think it's the same.  If anything Dom might be easier to understand since you won't have to strain yourself trying to figure out what he's mumbling.  Mo would have definitely gotten along better with the Rock.  Let me ask you another question.  If we replaced Vin Diesel with Maurice would the plot still not make sense? Make more sense?

Spider-Man: Homecoming
Homecoming is easily the best Spidey movie since Spider-Man 2.  I had so much fun watching it.  Tom Holland is a perfect Perfect Peter and for the most part I thought casting nailed it.  My biggest problems with the movie?  Too much Iron Man, not enough Maurice the Orangutan.  Maybe it's just a little Tony Stark fatigue but I just preferred the scenes when Spider-Man was his own thing, like David Pumpkins.  Speaking of things that are orange, Maurice would have been the perfect father figure role.  Wise, funny and intelligent, he would have been a useful primate for Peter to lean on.

Kong: Skull Island
Fun fact about Kong: Skull Island: the actor who plays King Kong, Toby Kebbel, also plays Koba in the Apes movies.  Andy Serkis, who plays Caesar, played King Kong is Peter Jackson's King Kong.  Skull Island is a fine movie.  I liked it more than most critics did.  But it did lack in number of orangutans.  Look, I'm not necessarily saying that Maurice should have been an animal on Skull Island.  But him as a pilot or maybe even an employee of Monarch.  I buy it.

Transformers: The Last Knight
Here's my quick fix for the latest Transformers movie.  Get rid of Mark Wahlberg.  He's got better things to do.  Get rid of Anthony Hopkins.  He definitely has better things to do.  Get rid of the whole knights and prophecy stuff that made up the plot.  Now get rid of Michael Bay.  Lastly, get rid of the transformers because this series has gone on way too long.  Now make this a Netflix comedy special starring Maurice.  He's got some good stuff on parenting.

Baby Driver
There's nothing I would change about Baby Driver.  It might be perfect.  It's easily my favorite driving movie since Drive, which is also a perfect movie.  ( A good indicator that a driving movie is going to be good is if it has the word "drive" in the title.)  So there's nothing major I would change about this movie.  It's perfectly casted so I'm not replacing anyone.  I don't want to add any scenes just because I'm afraid of throwing off the film's dynamic pace.  So how about this?  Early on there's a scene where Baby, Ansel Elgort's character is getting coffee for his crew.  The barista, or maybe just cashier, is slightly annoyed that Baby is not very attentive because he's listening to his iPod.  What if we replaced that barista with Maurice?  It doesn't change anything about the plot or the run time.  Chances are you probably wouldn't notice.  And if the odd chance you do notice your reaction will most likely be, "Is that Mo?... It is!  How delightful.".

All Eyez On Me
All Eyez On Me is a movie that's supposed to take a deep dive on the man and icon who is Tupac Shakur.  It doesn't do a great job of that and it mostly plays out like if somebody took Pac's Wikipedia page and made that a movie.  The movie has a lot of problems and no amount of orangutans can fix it.  Not even six.  But let's pretend Maurice is signed on to be in this movie.  Is he Jimmy Iovine?  No, Mo is no music nerd.  Is he Suge Knight?  I couldn't take Maurice seriously as the menacing and irredeemable Suge.  The obvious answer is to have him play one of the Outlawz during Tupac's House of Blues show.  But which one?  Easy: Yaki Kadafi.

There are countless other movies that came out this year and years prior that could have used some mo Mo.  Unfortunately Hollywood doesn't take my calls.  The best we can do is pay AMC to let us watch this unbelievable creature steal the show for 6+ hours.

El Guapo is a talented blogger on the rise, regarded by many as a cross between Homer and Socrates.  Through real life experience and expertise in many facets of life, the Guaps aims to provide readers with unique takes that will enhance the way they think and live.  Keep up with his main blog Infinite Wisdom From El Guapo’s Brain.  NBA fans have to place to go with his basketball blog, Infinite Wisdom on the NBA.  Like him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.  Leave comments in the section below.  Stay Guapo out there!