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Category: Evolution

Dawn of the Apes

I needed to calm myself before my flight tomorrow so I headed out to watch a film. What I ended up seeing was the new Planet of the Apes film. “Dawn of Planet of the Apes” was just as good as “Rise”.

The virus that had begun to spread at the end of “Rise” is now a spreading epidemic. The human race is dying off in the millions and now cure is in sight. Some humans are immune to the virus and manage to find each other forming small communities desperate to survive.

The genetically enhanced apes continue to thrive out in the forest. Over the decades their numbers have grown considerably and they have constructed their own unique village. They haven’t seen any sign of humans in years and aren’t even sure if there were any survivors. Some of the apes feel like they are better off.

Conflict finds it’s way into the Ape village when a group of armed humans stumble into the ape’s territory and shoot a Chimpanzee out of fear.

The Apes want to be left alone and a human village desperate for electricity wants to use an old Dam Hydro-electric Plant in the Ape’s territory. Some humans are willing to take the Dam at all costs, others wish to find a peaceful solution with the apes and the Apes are divided on how they feel about the human strangers and whether or not they can trust them.

The tension in the movie never lets up as both societies struggle with survival, fear, trust and a desire to hold onto the things they cherish. It was just like watching the conflicts of human history play out right on the scene before me but with intelligent apes as one of the parties.

One of the big ideas in all of the Ape movies – old and new – is that like history, evolution repeats itself. What we feel is unique to humanity may possibly re-emerge in other lifeforms after we are gone or possibly while we still live. This film gets into this well. There is a scene where the lead Chimp Caesar admits that he made a mistake thinking apes were better than humans and through the conflict comes to realize that they are more alike than he thought. I think that sentiment can be carried outside of fiction as well. A lot of species out there today – other mammals in particular – possess so many of the same traits we do. Some are only a few evolutionary steps away from us.

Through these similarities we can understand that we all struggle to survive and thrive. There is always that fear that we’ll have everything we have taken away. When a raccoon hisses at a person exploring their nest is it any different then us calling the police when a stranger shows up poking around our house?

The film also reminded me of how delicate relations can be between different unassociated groups and how slip-ups and misunderstandings can escalate especially in the face of fear. The answers on how we should conduct ourselves around unfamiliar groups can be hazy. I wish that showing pure love and acceptance was a clear path to reciprocation but that isn’t always the case, caution can be vital… but so can keeping a cool head and paying close attention to the facts.

Other then some overly convenient plot points the film really did make me think and the ending left me a bit unnerved. Maybe it wasn’t the best movie pick right before hoping on a plane to another continent but at least it brought some interesting questions into my mind.

– Bear Hunter

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Significance of the X-Men

I just headed out and watched “X-Men: Days of Future Past”.  It was simply brilliant.  I couldn’t look away, both the story and the action were captivating.  There is a scene in there that rivals the “Nightcrawler in the Whitehouse” scene from X2.  I won’t give it away.

The themes of prejudice, fear and genecide were powerful.  Anyone who is different – born or raised – can understand the fear of being misunderstood or even seen as a threat to the average collective.  Feeling like you have to hide yourself or face prosecution – minor or major – is a terrible feeling/burden.  The human genome is fairly stable but even so there are people out there with real physical and neurological distinctions.  The X-Men from the very beginnings of the comics brought to the surface how prejudice can take on any form and it also emphasizes the difficulties and risks involved in accepting what one doesn’t understand.  Some mutants such as Magneto do a good job of dissuading people from giving mutants a chance.

I think it’s essential to have comic books, novels, movies and any media in general that remind us that we aren’t all the same and that isn’t a bad thing.  Both visible and invisible minorities can suffer incredible amounts of criticism, bullying and violence for any number of reasons.  It’s easy to herd a group of people we don’t understand into a corner and keep a close watch on them because we’re not sure what they are going to do rather than take the time to learn about the things that make them tick, what needs they have or what their motivations are.

It’s also important to have characters in stories that – those being oppressed and those not – having varied opinions on the subject matter.  It reminds us that not all of us respond to different types of discrimination the same way.  How Beast responds to being feared and judged by humans is a lot different than how Wolverine responds to it and they are both avid seekers of peace.  I hate to say it, but there are times when I found myself agreeing with Magneto on a point or two during “Days of Future Past”.

I look forward to the next instalment of the X-Men.

– Bear Hunter

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Cosmos

I just finished watching an episode of the show “Cosmos”.  The episode I watched focussed on the time-table and process of evolution since the earliest life to modern age humans.  The big theme of the episode was on the most drastic shifts in atmosphere, climate and the Earth’s surface and how life survived against the greatest of odds.  They covered a lot of ground and bounced back and forth between geology, climatology and biology.  A great overview but a lot left out.

The show itself is very entertaining.  For a weekly show they have a lot of animation and the visual presentation is amazing.  I can only imagine how many people they have on the pay-roll.  I’ve only seen a couple of episodes so I don’t know how much the topics vary.

It amazes me how advanced informational programming has become and how entertaining as well.  A giant leap from the slide shows my teachers put us through back when I was in high school.  If nothing else, I could always count on catching up on sleep during those slide shows… I know, I’m terrible.

– Bear Hunter

Galaxy

Cosmos