Planet Of The Apes

"Weak"

Planet Of The Apes Review


Without the faintest hint of director Tim Burton's uniquely uncanny style, "Planet of the Apes" version 2.0 feels like nothing more than a generic (albeit overblown) sci-fi summer movie -- and a forgettably mediocre one at that.

A passionless, elementary endeavor of wow effects and a yawn plot (which has been reinvented from the 1968 original), the picture opens circa 2029 with astronaut Mark Wahlberg working on a space station, training chimps to pilot one-man pods into electrical storms encountered in deep space.

After losing contact with one chimp in a rather ominous anomaly, Wahlberg establishes his maverick personality (which soon fades into a vanilla version of your standard action hero) by swiping a pod against orders to go rescue him. Once inside the storm, our hero is sucked into a wormhole that turns his helm dead and spits him out to crash land on a faraway world in the distant future where -- as if you didn't know -- a brutal, medieval society of evolved simians enslaves primitive humans as labor and pets.

Now, before I start cutting into the unimaginative contrivances of the dumbed-down lead-the-humans-in-revolt plot that borrows more from "Sci-Fi for Dummies" than it does from this movie's own source material, let me say something positive about the movie: Burton and F/X makeup maestro Rick Baker went to incredible lengths to create a vast cast of convincingly and distinctively unhuman apes.

The superbly detailed masks worn by actors Tim Roth, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Clarke Duncan, Paul Giamatti and dozens of others are capable of such an astounding range of motion that even subtle degrees of emotions like anger, anxiety and deceitfulness can be detected in their faces.

But that's only the beginning. Burton had his actors coached in primate behavior. They squat and lumber like apes, even running on all fours, and they leap agilely from the ground to branch to branch (with the help of a few special effects) in the canopy of their rather soundstagy jungle-mountain village. In conversation they sniff, growl, howl and oo-oo like apes, but in a way that fits their step up on the evolutionary ladder and contributes to a vivid sense of the apes' sometimes hostile social system. A lot of thought, study and effort went into making this population of complex beasties as believable as the are.

But strip away the advances in makeup and the fact that most of actors pull off incredible simian physicality and passable simian personalities, and what's left is sub-standard sci-fi, inevitably plagued by clichés, glaring plot holes and cheap, unintentionally funny social symbolism.

Almost immediately upon escaping his spacecraft as it sinks into a lagoon, Wahlberg is captured by the apes along with a handful of other humans. Soon the daughter of a chimp politician -- an activist in the "Human Rights Faction" (subtle, huh?) played with pallid earnestness by Helena Bonham Carter -- is helping the humans escape to "The Forbidden Zone." (Oh, brother!)

Meanwhile a barbarous, coup-minded general (a fantastically ravenous Tim Roth, blessed with the most expressive monkey face) learns the dark secret of his society from his dying father: Thousands of years ago, apes arose to take over this planet from humans, who had been their cruel masters. In one of this movie's many winking homages to the original "Planet of the Apes," the old simian is played by Charlton Heston, who with his dying breath curses the ancient humans, bellowing "Damn them all to hell!"

The general then pursues Wahlberg and his band into the Forbidden Zone where the wreckage of an old spacecraft is found, along with dozens of tribes of humans just itching for a hero to lead them in a revolt. All these humans look as if they've just crawled out of caves, except for one played by smokin' hot Estella Warren ("Driven"), who looks like she just flew in from a Tarzan-themed shoot for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

Many of the movie's absurdities and logical chasms begin to kick in about this point in the story, but I can't go into them without divulging too much of the plot, which is insultingly predictable but does not parallel the 1968 film (which is why I won't give it away).

Out of an apparent feeling of obligation to the shocking finale of its predecessor, Burton does clumsily tack on a surprise ending here -- but it doesn't make a scrap of sense and it has nothing whatsoever to do with the rest of the film except that is has apes in it. (He must be suffering from "A.I." syndrome because this extraneous scene comes after a perfectly serviceable opportunity to fade to black and roll the credits.)

But while the 2001 "Planet of the Apes" is fatally flawed and undeniably flimsy, it will without question hold the interest of anyone familiar with the '68 version, which is itself an overrated, big budget B-movie. For old-school fans, it's worth matinee price just to see what's new and different -- even if it's new, different and ultimately inferior.



Planet Of The Apes

Facts and Figures

Genre: Sci fi/Fantasy

Run time: 119 mins

In Theaters: Friday 27th July 2001

Box Office USA: $178.1M

Box Office Worldwide: $362.2M

Budget: $100M

Distributed by: 20th Century Fox

Production compaines: 20th Century Fox, The Zanuck Company, Tim Burton Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 45%
Fresh: 70 Rotten: 86

IMDB: 5.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Leo Davidson, as General Thade, as Ari, as Attar, as Karubi, as Daena, as Limbo, as Krull, as Senator Nado, as Zaius, Chad Bannon as Red Soldier, as A woman

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Advertisement
Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

Sing Movie Review

Sing Movie Review

The quality of the animation in this musical comedy may not be up to Pixar...

Jackie Movie Review

Jackie Movie Review

Rather than make a standard biopic about the most famous First Lady in American history,...

Split Movie Review

Split Movie Review

After a few badly received sci-fi blockbusters, M. Night Shyamalan returned to his earthier style...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.