In a futuristic world that has embraced ape slavery, Caesar, the son of the late simians Cornelius and Zira, surfaces after almost twenty years of hiding out from the authorities, and prepares for a slave revolt against humanity.
J. Lee Thompson
The world is shocked by the appearance of three talking chimpanzees, who arrived mysteriously in a U.S. spacecraft. They become the toast of society; but one man believes them to be a threat to the human race.
Ten years after conquering the Earth, ape leader Caesar wants the ruling apes and enslaved humans to live in peace. But warring factions of apes led by a militant gorilla general as well as various human groups threaten the stability.
J. Lee Thompson
It is the year 2029: Astronaut Leo Davidson boards a pod cruiser on a Space Station for a "routine" reconnaissance mission. But an abrupt detour through a space time wormhole lands him on a strange planet where talking apes rule over the human race. With the help of a sympathetic chimpanzee activist named Ari and a small band of human rebels, Leo leads the effort to evade the advancing Gorilla Army led by General Thade and his most trusted warrior Attar. Now the race is on to reach a sacred temple within the planet's Forbidden Zone to discover the shocking secrets of mankind's past - and the key to its future. Written by
Visually,this film is sometimes a splendor;the light falls on a crepuscular world.The Apes' town is quite scary particularly when you see it from a distance ,as it stands out against an ominous sky.In the very beginning,the cast and credits are also successful,with an adequate martial music.The first third has some funny,parodic and sometimes politically incorrect lines.In the second third,the movie begins to lose steam,although the discovery in the wrecked spaceship is a rather good idea. But that's not all good news.First of all,the hero lacks charisma and the apes and their sensational make-up simply overwhelm him and drown him out.On the contrary,majestic Charlton Heston,even when he was in chains,displayed a Shakespearian grandeur in the first version.
The last third consists in battles,a "second coming" and the "astonishing" ending without which..that would not be "planet of the apes".Actually,the new ending was borrowed from Pierre Boulle 's novel,but not without adding a mathematically unlikelihood which will give you headaches if you begin to think too hard:the least they can do:Everything ,even the proper nouns from the French writer's book have been removed,even if some characters recall some of the Boulle/Shaffner version.Shaffner had contented himself with changing the astronauts' name(eg:Ulysse Mérou=Taylor) Hats off to Helena Bonham-Carter who brings warmth and emotion in a rather vapid cast:in a part close to that of Kim Hunter/Zira,she really asserts her distinctive identity. Tim Roth is effective as well,but his part is less so.David Warner and Kris Kristofferson are wasted.As a tribute to Shaffner(?)both Linda Harrison (an unidentified woman captured with Leo) and Charlton Heston (moaning his curse,which is,admittedly,funny)appear unbilled.
Tim Burton might be a director to remember.Although he has not made a genuine masterpiece yet,his filmography is already rich:"Sleepy hollow","Edward Scissorhands ,the marvelous "Ed Wood" (Martin Landau is unforgettable).But redoing "planet of the apes " was a hard task.Shaffner's movie followed a progression,it moved slowly,from the long introduction showing the three astronauts making their way across desolate landscapes to the stunning final shots with Heston and Harrison 's roaming down by the sea.Remember how long it took Taylor to convince Zira he was a thinking man!Here it seems natural to Ari almost as soon as she sees him,that Leo is no dumb idiot animal.And that's the last straw,even Tim Roth (some kind of cross between Shaffner's Cornelius and a pulp fiction baddie)pretty damn quickly believes too that that human is too clever for his own sake.
Tim Burton's so-so remake epitomizes the dearth of good scripts.Pierre Boulle's book is a golden mine and one could have written a coherent story out of it,different from that of the first version.Why not,for instance,introduce the two "astronauts" whose scenes open and close it,and turn Leo's adventures into a flashback?What about showing the love between the hero and the woman-animal ?And the son they had?And the menace this son represented for the simian race? All these ideas were left over by Shaffner's script writers and could have built a strong new tale.
The main flaw lies in the human beings:here,they speak -English!- ,they can reason,they can swim (!),they are (except for bubble head Warren)clever,so why the hell did the apes tame them?
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