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Planet Of The Apes  

Leo (Mark Wahlberg)

Thade (Tim Roth)

Ari (Helena Bonham Carter)

Attar (Michael Clarke Duncan)

Limbo (Paul Giamatti)

Directed by Tim Burton

Written by William Broyles, Jr., Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal, based on the novel by Pierre Boulle

Rated PG-13 for action violence

Running Time: 110 minutes Distributed by 20th Century Fox

Planet of the Apes is a very dry “re-imagination” of the classic 1968 sci-fi film. The film opens with Air force/space pilot Leo Davidson (Wahlberg) crash landing on a wilderness planet. Within minutes, walking and talking apes are chasing him. He is captured and then taken to Ape City along with many other captured humans. Leo learns that on this planet, apes rule and humans are used as slaves. Leo then decides he must escape and get back home. He and a group of humans escape with the help of Ari (Carter), who is a human activist ape. The ape leader of justice, General Thade (Roth), and his right-hand man, Attar (Duncan), assemble forces and set out to recapture the human that defies the apes.

Tim Burton is a very imaginative and talented filmmaker, but I have to say that this is really the first film by him that I didn’t care for. Problem after problem arises in this film, even though there are some very admirable things in it.

Burton’s vision is unexplainable and he stated that this isn’t a remake of the 1968 version of Planet of the Apes, it is just a re-imagination. The sets and the movement that Burton visualizes for the apes are very cool. However, his sequencing is flaky, mostly because he had a horrible script to work with. Burton tries to make this film sci-fi, dark, colorful, humorous and even stunning. The film really just becomes complicated, filled with holes, and the feel of trying to capture something that isn’t there. I have a lot of respect for Tim Burton, but I hope that there isn’t a sequel to this film.

William Broyles, Jr., Lawrence Konner, and Mark Rosenthal all collaborated on the weak script of this film. Burton does what he can with the story, but the writers hardly help him. The whole question of why and the secrets that lie within the apes come out to be very dull answers. It seemed that the writers wanted it to be surprising. There are also characters that are just standing and walking around without any characterization. An example is the woman female lead Daena (Warren). She is supposed to be the love interest for Leo, but she has a couple of lines and absolutely no depth. It might have been better if she wouldn’t have spoken at all. There are also cop-outs in the script, in which one involves bringing a gun into the story. It was a very weak choice. It does seem that the writers tried to take certain things from the original film and revamp them, but it doesn’t work.

Mark Wahlberg shows really no reactive feelings to the audience. An example is when he arrives on the planet; there is not real shock in his facial expressions when he sees the apes. Remember how freaked out Charlton Heston was in the original? I really like Mark Wahlberg and I think he is a pure movie star. However, I would like for him to go back to the character driven roles, where he really shines. Tim Roth gives the best performance in this film as the always-angry General ape, Thade. Roth’s mannerisms and facial glares are intriguing and in a lot of moments he is the best thing to watch on the screen. Helena Bonham Carter is also good in this film as the human activist ape Ari. Like Roth, her facial expressions are strong, even though she has a lot of makeup on.

Staying on the subject of makeup, Rick Baker just doesn’t stop amazing me with his work. The makeup in this film is fantastic and Baker can add another Oscar to his collection for his work in this film. He has done makeup in such films as Nutty Professor, The Grinch, Men in Black and An American Werewolf in London.

Planet of the Apes has some good things in it, but it doesn’t capture what it reaches for. Also, the ending of this film is ridiculous, and as much as I don’t want Burton do a sequel, I believe there will be one.

Report Card Grade: C-


Beastman’s Movie Reviews

Copyright, 2001 Joseph C. Tucker

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