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The UnPopular Opinion: Planet of the Apes

Feb. 27, 2013by: Alex Maidy

THE UNPOPULAR OPINION is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATHED. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Enjoy!

**** SOME SPOILERS ENSUE****

Back in 2001, we got the first new PLANET OF THE APES film after decades of attempts to restart the franchise. Everyone from Sam Raimi, Oliver Stone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Phillip Noyce, Stan Winston, James Cameron, and Chris Columbus were attached before Tim Burton stepped in to bring the project to fruition.  The original vision for the film was closer to RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES but through various permutations of the project we were left with a bigger budget take on the original novel by Pierre Boulle.

Tim Burton's PLANET OF THE APES was a box office success but a critical failure.  Even castmembers and the director himself look back on the project with disdain.  I have fond memories of the film and even think this version is the most fun of any chapter in the series.  Despite flaws in the plot, PLANET OF THE APES was a fun summer action movie full of well designed set pieces and excellent special effects.

Mark Wahlberg does not like Wet Willies.

Back in 1968, PLANET OF THE APES was something that had never been seen before.  It featured make-up effects unrivaled at the time along with an excellent screenplay developed from a draft by TWILIGHT ZONE mastermind Rod Serling.  Combined with the original twist ending, PLANET OF THE APES was unlike anything released.  The 21st century update does everything bigger, louder, and faster, holding true to most Hollywood action movies.

I recently criticized Mark Wahlberg for being the most boring part of THE FIGHTER because all of his supporting actors upstaged him in terms of performance.  As one of the lone human characters in PLANET OF THE APES, Wahlberg does a great job of relating the fish out of water scenario for the audience.  His Captain Leo Davidson is a more realistic portrayal of a man in an alien world than Charlton Heston was in the original movie.  But, this is not a movie about the humans.  Estella Warren, while super hot, is not exactly a top notch actress.  She serves her purpose as eye candy here as Linda Harrison did in the original.  RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES needed a strong performance from James Franco because that movie was relating the downfall of Earth to the apes.  Wahlberg is our gateway into this world and simply needs to take it all in as a surrogate for us.  This movie is truly for the actors playing the apes to shine.

Man, Jennifer Aniston has let herself go.

Burton knew he was going to have to deliver a level of special effects in his PLANET OF THE APES that would rival the revolutionary effects in the 1968 version.  He succeeds wonderfully.  Where the primates all looked the same aside from some different fur color in the first movie, the remake gives us orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees, and more.  The varied species on display in this movie is quite extraordinary.  Even in the battle sequences where the apes go from a standing position to attacking on all fours, there is never a moment where you can see the zipper peeking through or the mask coming loose.

Much like Burton's MARS ATTACKS!, PLANET OF THE APES has a level of self-reference built into it.  The actors all know they are playing a bunch of monkeys and they chew the scenery like crazy.  Paul Giamatti and the late Michael Clarke Duncan in particular offer moments in the movie of cheezy perfection while Tim Roth's General Thade is a sadistic villain of the highest order.  While Roth turned down the role of Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series for this role, I think the end result was better for both films.  No one can compete with Alan Rickman and Thade needed someone small and unpredictable to make this role work.  Roth knocks it out of the park.

Are you-ooh-ooh-aah-ahh not entertained?!?!?

From a cinematography standpoint, Tim Burton is exceptionally restrained here.  PLANET OF THE APES followed his work on SLEEPY HOLLOW and he would continue after this movie to make BIG FISH and then CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY.  This movie does share some classic Burton camera shots and set design, but PLANET OF THE APES is by far the least Burtonesque of the director's movies.  But, I think if PLANET OF THE APES had all of the hallmarks of a BATMAN or a BEETLEJUICE, it would have been too hard to watch.  Burton does retain some of his hallmarks, like the Danny Elfman score, which work well here as epic soundtracks go.

In the end, literally, the movie sets up one of the most batshit, out of left field cliffhangers in movie history.  While Kevin Smith would accuse Burton of plaigarizing the Ape-raham Lincoln closing scene from a comic he wrote, it was a moment that sparked a lot of discussion.  Tim Burton himself said the scene was not meant to make sense but rather set up a sequel.  Burton has been quoted as saying he would rather jump out a window rather than make a sequel to this movie, which should give you an idea if we will ever see another in this style.  With the massive success of RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES and the already scheduled DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, I doubt we will ever get a follow up to this version of the franchise.  PLANET OF THE APES ranks as one of the better movies in the entire series and should be worthy of repeat viewings.

Oh, and if you have any suggestions for The UnPopular Opinion I’m always happy to hear them. You can send along an email to alexmaidy@joblo.com, spell it out below, slap it up on my wall in Movie Fan Central, or send me a private message via Movie Fan Central. Provide me with as many movie suggestions as you like, with any reasoning you'd care to share, and if I agree then you may one day see it featured in this very column!

Source: JoBlo.com

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8:01AM on 02/27/2013
I don't particularly like this movie, but I always thought people over-exaggerated just how bad it really was.
I don't particularly like this movie, but I always thought people over-exaggerated just how bad it really was.
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9:32AM on 02/27/2013
That's a good lesson to take with you on this site.
That's a good lesson to take with you on this site.
7:36AM on 02/27/2013
I'm not a fan of the movie overall but it did have some very strong elements such as:

i) Tim Roth was fucking awesome and the actors who played the other apes did a great job
ii) The make-up was incredibly well done (Of course given Rick Baker)
iii) Danny Elfman made a really kick-ass score
iv) The ending battle

Other than that though it was a mess, story wise especially and Wahlberg was bland as hell.
I'm not a fan of the movie overall but it did have some very strong elements such as:

i) Tim Roth was fucking awesome and the actors who played the other apes did a great job
ii) The make-up was incredibly well done (Of course given Rick Baker)
iii) Danny Elfman made a really kick-ass score
iv) The ending battle

Other than that though it was a mess, story wise especially and Wahlberg was bland as hell.
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+7
4:33AM on 02/27/2013
I can enjoy it for the amazing makeups and ape performances, but it's not a good movie!
I can enjoy it for the amazing makeups and ape performances, but it's not a good movie!
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+6
6:20AM on 02/27/2013
Oh, another Aley Maidy article set in bizzaro world. Ill give you this, the movie wasnt THAT terrible but one of the better and the most fun in the franchise? WTF?
Oh, another Aley Maidy article set in bizzaro world. Ill give you this, the movie wasnt THAT terrible but one of the better and the most fun in the franchise? WTF?
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12:16PM on 02/27/2013

Dvd commentary

I remember being excited for dvd releaae, so I could listen to Tim Burton's commentary, and maybe a clue as to what the ending was all about. Well, to paraphrase, he answered nothing:

"To me, this was how it should end. For me. This was how it should be - to me... For me, this was the way to end it. To me."

Another WTF?
I remember being excited for dvd releaae, so I could listen to Tim Burton's commentary, and maybe a clue as to what the ending was all about. Well, to paraphrase, he answered nothing:

"To me, this was how it should end. For me. This was how it should be - to me... For me, this was the way to end it. To me."

Another WTF?
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10:25AM on 02/27/2013
Rise of the Planet Of The Apes was fantastic, the story, the characters, everything about that film was tremendous. To me it is the best of the entire series. Frieda Pinto, James Franco, Andy Serkis they gave GREAT performances. Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes had good parts, but the script wasn't good. The performances weren't great by the actors (except Tim Roth who was a stand out). There were good parts to it, but I kept asking myself if this movie was as entertaining or thought
Rise of the Planet Of The Apes was fantastic, the story, the characters, everything about that film was tremendous. To me it is the best of the entire series. Frieda Pinto, James Franco, Andy Serkis they gave GREAT performances. Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes had good parts, but the script wasn't good. The performances weren't great by the actors (except Tim Roth who was a stand out). There were good parts to it, but I kept asking myself if this movie was as entertaining or thought provoking as it SHOULD be? And I came up with a resounding NO.
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12:48PM on 02/27/2013
Glad you wrote this article, It's hard for me to point out that I deeply love this movie, and especially how great the make up effects were. Rick Baker has made this movie a test of time, costume and makeup wise.
Glad you wrote this article, It's hard for me to point out that I deeply love this movie, and especially how great the make up effects were. Rick Baker has made this movie a test of time, costume and makeup wise.
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9:18AM on 02/27/2013

I don't hate this movie

but I think it's flaws put it below the "success threshold," in my opinion. A few reasons. First - the tone is all over the place. It doesn't know if it wants to be serious social commentary, a parody, or an adventure film. It's possible to juggle these, but in this film, you can hear the gears grinding. The actors themselves seem undecided on what the film should be. The mythology of Simos further complicates it, and brings in a cameo with Charlton Heston that is both wasted, and adds to the
but I think it's flaws put it below the "success threshold," in my opinion. A few reasons. First - the tone is all over the place. It doesn't know if it wants to be serious social commentary, a parody, or an adventure film. It's possible to juggle these, but in this film, you can hear the gears grinding. The actors themselves seem undecided on what the film should be. The mythology of Simos further complicates it, and brings in a cameo with Charlton Heston that is both wasted, and adds to the schizophrenia of tone.
Another issue is the makeup. For all of the imagination, the make-up doesn't work for Carter or Giamatti, who sound like they've got prosthetics on. Not a huge knock, but it pulls you out of the story, which is unusual for a Burton film. Finally, I have to blame Burton and the Studio for not being to get along and capture the heart and ideas of the original film series. Part of what is so great about the recent film, is that it captured the essence and matured it to a great degree. Burton and the Studio are all over the place, and it stinks of a clash between a wildly creative director who want this pre-baked playground to got bonkers in (cool enough) and a studio who just wanted a cash grab using a recognized franchise. I will give the film this: the tacked on ending of Wahlberg's return represents one of the greatest middle-fingers a director has given his studio masters - ever. The fact that they didn't get the joke until it was pointed out by critics is amazing, and almost makes the movie worth watching on those grounds.

Don't agree with the assessment of this entry, but respect the argument made for it.
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9:39AM on 02/27/2013
What was the joke the ending was supposed to make? I never heard of this before.
What was the joke the ending was supposed to make? I never heard of this before.
+2
8:22AM on 02/27/2013
I often catch myself rewatching this... and always laugh at Wahlberg trapped at the end.
I often catch myself rewatching this... and always laugh at Wahlberg trapped at the end.
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9:36PM on 02/27/2013
I really enjoyed the film, and never did understand why so many people hated it sooooo much!! To each his own I guess!! I would welcome a sequel, though with the new one's being made now I know that will never happen. Can't wait for for the new ape movie!!
I really enjoyed the film, and never did understand why so many people hated it sooooo much!! To each his own I guess!! I would welcome a sequel, though with the new one's being made now I know that will never happen. Can't wait for for the new ape movie!!
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8:34AM on 02/27/2013
Haven't seen this movie since the theater, and maybe I was too young to really get how bad it was, but I never did quite understand all the hate. It certainly was a dialed-down Tim Burton. The apes, Roth in particular, were really impressive though. Having gone back and watched the 1968 movie, a big chunk of what makes that film so good is the social commentary, and how really twisted Heston's character is.
Haven't seen this movie since the theater, and maybe I was too young to really get how bad it was, but I never did quite understand all the hate. It certainly was a dialed-down Tim Burton. The apes, Roth in particular, were really impressive though. Having gone back and watched the 1968 movie, a big chunk of what makes that film so good is the social commentary, and how really twisted Heston's character is.
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9:21AM on 02/27/2013
Part of my ambivalence for Burton's film is how audacious and ambitious the original film is. It hasn't aged well, but there are amazing moments of spectacle and a message that the remake (and to be fair most of the sequels) didn't live up to. Just the first 20 minutes before Heston encounters anybody else is amazing filmmaking. Also - Heston was wasted in Burton's film as gimmicky wink to his role in the gun debate.
Part of my ambivalence for Burton's film is how audacious and ambitious the original film is. It hasn't aged well, but there are amazing moments of spectacle and a message that the remake (and to be fair most of the sequels) didn't live up to. Just the first 20 minutes before Heston encounters anybody else is amazing filmmaking. Also - Heston was wasted in Burton's film as gimmicky wink to his role in the gun debate.
8:31AM on 02/27/2013
I like all the Apes movies. This one could've been better, but was still enjoyable enough.
If they'd carried on from where this film left off it wouldn't have been the worst idea ever.
Personally I want the series to eventually get to a dystopian future setting where the apes are cybernatically enhanced and the gorillas are running some sort of fascist empire. Drop an unwitting human into that and you've got yourself a pleasantly messed up movie.
I like all the Apes movies. This one could've been better, but was still enjoyable enough.
If they'd carried on from where this film left off it wouldn't have been the worst idea ever.
Personally I want the series to eventually get to a dystopian future setting where the apes are cybernatically enhanced and the gorillas are running some sort of fascist empire. Drop an unwitting human into that and you've got yourself a pleasantly messed up movie.
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9:47PM on 02/27/2013

I agree with you.

I get why some people don't like it. You can compare this to Abram's Star trek, abandoning the science-fiction roots for an action adventure film (although Abrams was better at it then Burton). It really has some of the best make-up and costumes of any film I can think of. Overall I enjoy it.
I get why some people don't like it. You can compare this to Abram's Star trek, abandoning the science-fiction roots for an action adventure film (although Abrams was better at it then Burton). It really has some of the best make-up and costumes of any film I can think of. Overall I enjoy it.
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9:29AM on 02/27/2013

I really had fun....well, till the WTF ending.

I liked this movie, and always found it to be quite entertaining. Never totally understood the severe backlash against it. Well, I DID understand about the ending though, because unlike the original, which explained a lot of things (and had way too many sequels), this was just like a slap on the face WITHOUT explaining a single thing! I would be okay with it if there was a sequel readily following it, like a pre-organized trilogy or something, but unfortunately there was absolutely NOTHING
I liked this movie, and always found it to be quite entertaining. Never totally understood the severe backlash against it. Well, I DID understand about the ending though, because unlike the original, which explained a lot of things (and had way too many sequels), this was just like a slap on the face WITHOUT explaining a single thing! I would be okay with it if there was a sequel readily following it, like a pre-organized trilogy or something, but unfortunately there was absolutely NOTHING after this. Other than that, it was totally a fun timepass for me.

Finally, Maidy, something we can (somewhat) agree on! m/
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9:31AM on 02/27/2013
The ending was Burton's FU to the studios, for walking over his creative vision.
The ending was Burton's FU to the studios, for walking over his creative vision.
2:55AM on 02/27/2013
The movie itself is actually quite good. I think the ending ruins it all.
The movie itself is actually quite good. I think the ending ruins it all.
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+0
2:42AM on 02/27/2013

Tops in my personal U.O. list

Alex- This has always been way up in my own list of movies I love that everyone hated. I never understood the huge backlash at this film; and you articulated many of my feelings very well. Nice to know I'm not alone.
Alex- This has always been way up in my own list of movies I love that everyone hated. I never understood the huge backlash at this film; and you articulated many of my feelings very well. Nice to know I'm not alone.
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2:27PM on 02/27/2013

This movie was god awful, what are you talking about

This iteration of Planet of The Apes made no sense, the original was satire meant to address civil rights for the African-American community in the 1960's, which was when the original was made. The new film had no reason to be made without the satirical significance. You write for a film blog, you should at least have this much insight to such non-subtle political and cultural references.
This iteration of Planet of The Apes made no sense, the original was satire meant to address civil rights for the African-American community in the 1960's, which was when the original was made. The new film had no reason to be made without the satirical significance. You write for a film blog, you should at least have this much insight to such non-subtle political and cultural references.
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10:20AM on 02/27/2013

Over-edited

I think there were a LOT of great things about Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes. The costumes, the makeup, the sets, the stunts, even the sound were actually quite good for a movie of this sort. The story line was a semi-re-telling but it went in a quicker, tightly edited pace rather than the slow pondering pace of the original. The original had its place in time, a civil rights sci-fi philosophical discussion, with some memorable characters. Tim Burton decided to make a film with a clear
I think there were a LOT of great things about Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes. The costumes, the makeup, the sets, the stunts, even the sound were actually quite good for a movie of this sort. The story line was a semi-re-telling but it went in a quicker, tightly edited pace rather than the slow pondering pace of the original. The original had its place in time, a civil rights sci-fi philosophical discussion, with some memorable characters. Tim Burton decided to make a film with a clear antagonist and a 1 dimensional protagonist, and that is what lost it credibility. The script was terribly under-written in developing Mark Wahlberg's character. Or any character for that matter. I didn't mind the WTF ending. What I minded was the overall story. Instead of deeply thinking about the issue of race and the arrogance of mankind, it really focused on a good guy bad guy conflict. where we never really got to know the good guy. Why was he courageous? What were his weaknesses? When Charlton Heston was exposed he was vulnerable and conflicted, but Mark Wahlberg was directed to just look confused and annoyed at the upside down world. I don't hate the movie, but I am disappointed because it didn't reach its potential. It seemed "over-edited" in my opinion.
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3:20AM on 02/27/2013

Total Guilty Pleasure

Nice write up, Alex. I feel similarly, although I think the movie is a bit more of a mess than it should've been. That said, if this was on HBO, I would leave it on and watch it all the way through. It's got a strange pull to it, almost like a stage play...with apes. The diverse group of species was a nice touch and definitely sets it apart from the classics. And, shit, Roth fucking kills it. No matter how much shit any of them talk, if anything, Roth owned that role. I think he gives
Nice write up, Alex. I feel similarly, although I think the movie is a bit more of a mess than it should've been. That said, if this was on HBO, I would leave it on and watch it all the way through. It's got a strange pull to it, almost like a stage play...with apes. The diverse group of species was a nice touch and definitely sets it apart from the classics. And, shit, Roth fucking kills it. No matter how much shit any of them talk, if anything, Roth owned that role. I think he gives Serkis a run for his money, especially since he was in actual make up and not a mo-cap suit. It's not high art (and neither are the old-school originals for that matter), but it's a lot of fun.

Plus, beloved Semos!
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3:26AM on 02/27/2013

what!!!!

It is a terrible movie!!! Worst in the franchise. Its tge only one i dont own as its not part of the series imo.
It is a terrible movie!!! Worst in the franchise. Its tge only one i dont own as its not part of the series imo.
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3:24AM on 02/27/2013

what!!!!

It is a terrible movie!!! Worst in the franchise. Its tge only one i done own as its not psrt of the series imo.
It is a terrible movie!!! Worst in the franchise. Its tge only one i done own as its not psrt of the series imo.
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