Zoos may become a relic of the past, if movies have their way. In recent years, cinema has been presenting an argument against caging wildlife. Reflect upon Mumble’s deep sadness about being stuck at an aquarium (Happy Feet); Mr. Popper breaking the law and his condo's rules to keep his penguins from being put in the zoo (Mr. Popper’s Penguins); and Alex, Marty, Melman and Gloria's realization that captivity wasn’t a better life than roaming the African plains (Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted).
Now, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes takes it a step further. The film not only shows viewers how apes resent being caged, they turn the tables and cage the humans. In the film, the apes have been genetically altered in a lab to be more human, with the ability to speak English and use sign language. Many people already love and care about animals so deeply that by giving the apes human qualities and then presenting the inhumaneness of being held in captivity, it makes me wonder if this could be the turning point for zoos.
Movies do have the capacity to change the thinking of an entire population. Recently the documentary Blackfish brought the plight of whales in captivity to our attention. An Inconvenient Truth raised awareness of climate change and Super Size Me helped inspire fast-food chains to offer healthier options.
One of the things cinema does best is offer a different point of view. The more Hollywood personifies animals, the more we empathize with the caged creatures and put ourselves in their furry feet. The question is, are we ready to give animals civil rights?
See what instigated the apes' revolt in this clip.
Here are three movies to see with your family this weekend:
Earth to Echo. Four kids follow clues on their cell phones and find an adorable alien and the adventure of a lifetime.
How to Train Your Dragon 2. Hiccup, now 20, starts to see how he fits into the world as he takes on a rogue assembling a dragon army.
Edge of Tomorrow. What? You and your teen still haven’t seen this Tom Cruise sci-fi mind trip? It’s just like playing a video game except So. Much. Better.
To read Tara’s parent reviews, go to ThatWasSomething.com. To read movie reviews by kids, go to KidsPickFlicks.com.