You could easily interpret the new Planet of the Apes movie as being an anti-science diatribe — since it's about foolish humans meddling with biology, causing a new race of super-intelligent apes to emerge.
In Rise of the Planet of the Apes, humans create a cure for Alzheimer's disease that makes apes smarter — thus leading to the ape revolution. We asked director Rupert Wyatt if this is intended as a warning about the evils of meddling with Mother Nature.
At a press conference for Rise of the Planet of the Apes, we brought the anti-science question up to the director:
From the trailer, it looks like the ape uprising comes as a result of apes getting supercharged intelligence thanks to a new Alzheimer's cure. I'm curious — is this film anti-science at all?
Rupert Wyatt: No, I don't think it is. I mean, personally, absolutely not. I hate films that are all about morality tales [with messages like] 'Be careful what you wish for,' and 'Don't dabble with things you don't understand.' It's not about that. There are certain characters within the film that are proponents of that sort of line of thinking, and more moralistic perhaps or at least more humanistic, I guess.
But no, for me it's much more about mankind's hubris. It's like, here you've got James Franco's character looking to actually achieve something that is very personal to him, because of the fact the disease is affecting him personally. His father [has Alzheimer's] and all of that. But at the same time, it's about his hubris. It's about his sense of ambition. It's about being actually able to find a cure for something that is so devastating, but at the same time, there is a repercussion to that. Without getting too far flung about it, you could sort of say that any aspect of our own evolution bizarrely always seems to be born out of conflict. If you look at aviation and World War I, you know we advanced massively in terms of our understanding of aviation technology because of that war and we have the jet airplane because of it, so it's always that kind of gray area.
And that's what makes us human. That's what makes our species so complex, and I think future films, potentially — if there are future films from this starting point — will be about how apes deal with those questions as well.
Perhaps the "certain characters" Wyatt is referencing include John Landon, played by Brian Cox. Landon runs the horrifying Ape sanctuary that Caesar is eventually imprisoned in. Interesting side note: "John Landon" is also the name of one of the original astronauts on Charlton Heston's ship that crashed in the Ape future. The original Landon later gets lobotomized by the Ape society — also for science!