Planet Of The Apes (2001)
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Review Date: July 27, 2001
Director: Tim Burton
Writer: W. Broyles, L. Konner, M. Rosenthal
Producers: Richard D. Zanuck
Mark Wahlberg as Leo Davidson
Helena Bonham Carter as Ari
Tim Roth as General Thade
A human space astronaut accidentally falls upon a planet ruled by apes. He is taken prisoner along with some other humans, and tries his best to escape his simian captors. Oh yeah, and did I mention that the apes can talk? Kewl!
Despite this film not looking or feeling like a "Tim Burton movie" or its lead human character showing any signs of being a human being himself, I did find myself generally entertained throughout most of this film and do recommend it as fun, summer fare. Although the thing that sets this movie apart from all others is definitely its incredible ape make-up jobs and characterizations. I mean, I was completely convinced that every single one of these apes was for real! I also have to "give it up" to all of the actors inside the costumes, not only for waking up at three in the morning every day to get make-up slobbered all over them for 2-4 hours, but for coming through their costumed exteriors and selling us their characters on the screen as well. I especially enjoyed Bonham Carter's performance, who I believed to be the most developed character in the entire film (human or ape) and Tim Roth's bad guy, who chewed up scenery and oozed evil in every scene in which he took part. Plot-wise, I liked the beginning of the film, the whole build-up once Wahlberg got into the village, the escape and most of the fight scenes, but once things got out into the deserted area (and the final battle sequence), I kinda lost a bit of my interest.

I was much more intrigued by the interactions between the characters and the whole idea of "human beings as animals" then I was about the end battle sequence, which just seemed a bit too typical for this kind of film. I also hated the "kid" character who just got on my nerves and didn't really care for the way that the battle sequence was resolved (I won't ruin it here but c'mon guys...you coulda thought of something a little more plausible than that, no?). But the thing that held this movie back more than anything else was its lead character, his cold demeanor and the zero chemistry that he shared with either one of his inter-species love interests. This dude didn't seem to give a rat's ass about anyone but himself and I ultimately didn't really care about what happened to him either. Now I'm not sure if this was the fault of the actor or the script, but the film suffered because of it.

Visually, the movie was also nice to look at (especially the apes!), but I definitely expected greater coolness from Tim Burton. The "surprise ending" that highlighted the original PLANET OF THE APES film back in 1968, felt a little tacked on here, and despite being interesting, didn't really make all that much sense to me (unless you look at it from a sequel point of view). So overall, I loved the whole "feel" of the planet, the apes that ruled it, the manner in which they treated the humans, screamed, shouted and reverted the entire evolution chain, but didn't appreciate the film's lack of human character development (why was Kris Kristofferson even in this movie?) and the fact that its lead male and female humans were just plain boring. But I would still recommend this film as a fun, summer movie with laughs, creepiness and a really cool premise.

PS: For anyone who has seen the original, I cannot believe that they didn't AT LEAST bring back the scene in which the lead human character (in this case, Mark Wahlberg) goes nuts at the world in which he's suddenly been thrust ("This is a mad house!"- type of thing). The guy in this film barely seems to be "put off" by the fact that he's surrounded by apes who can speak English!!
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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