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If one wants to remake a movie, the best option is probably to choose
and original that was good, but not a great classic. Clearly, any
attempt to remake a concept that failed first time around is fraught
with danger, but an attempt to remake a classic runs the risk that
one's film will be unfavourably compared with the original. The
original 1968 film of 'Planet of the Apes' is one of cinema's great
science fiction classics. More than an adventure story, it touches on
some of the concerns of the late sixties- the fear of nuclear war, race
relations- and also raises more fundamental issues about the
relationship between man and nature, the relationship between religion
and science, Darwinism and animal rights. It was therefore a brave move
on Tim Burton's part to try and remake it.
The main concept of Tim Burton's film is basically similar to Franklin Schaffner's. An astronaut from Earth travels to a planet ruled by intelligent apes. Humans exist on this planet, but they are regarded as an inferior species, despised and exploited by the apes. There is, however, an important difference. In the original film, the apes are the only intelligent and articulate beings on the planet. Although they have only attained a pre-industrial level of civilization (they have firearms, but no power-driven machinery, and no means of transport other than the horse or horse-drawn vehicles), they are a far more advanced species than the planet's human inhabitants, who lack the powers of speech and reason and live an animal-like existence. In Burton's remake, humans and apes have similar powers of speech and intellect; it is only the apes' greater physical strength that enables them to dominate the planet and to treat the humans as slaves.
It was this ironic role-reversal, with apes behaving like men and men behaving like beasts, that gave Schaffner's film its satirical power. That film was advertised with the slogan 'Somewhere in the Universe, there must be something better than man!', and the apes are indeed, in some respects, better than man. Their law against killing others of their kind, for example, is much more strictly observed than our commandment that 'Thou shalt do no murder'. There is no sense that the apes are bad and the humans good. Even Dr Zaius, the orang-utan politician, is not a wicked individual; by the standards of his society he is an honourable and decent one. His weakness is that of excessive intellectual conservatism and unwillingness to accept opinions that do not fit in with his preconceived world view. (In this respect the apes are very human indeed).
Burton's film takes a less subtle moral line. It is a straightforward story of a fight for freedom. The villains are most of the apes, especially the fanatical, human-hating General Thade. The heroes are Captain Davidson, the astronaut from Earth, the planet's human population who long for freedom from the domination of the apes, and a few liberal, pro-human apes, especially Ari, the daughter of an ape senator. The apes are more aggressive and more obviously animals than in the original film; they still frequently move on all fours and emit fierce shrieks whenever angry or excited.
There are some things about this film that are good, especially the ape make-up which is, for the most part, more convincing than in the original film and allows the actors more scope to show emotion. (I say 'for the most part' because Ari looks far less simian than do most of the other apes- Tim Burton obviously felt that the audience would be more likely to accept her as a sympathetic character if she looked half-human). The actors playing apes actually seem more convincing than those playing humans. Tim Roth is good as the militaristic Thade, as is Helena Bonham-Carter as Ari. Mark Wahlberg, on the other hand, is not an actor of the same caliber as Charlton Heston, who played the equivalent role in the original film, and Estella Warren has little to do other than look glamorous. (Heston has a cameo role as an ape in Burton's film, and even gets to repeat his famous line 'Damn you all to hell').
Overall, however, the film is a disappointment when compared to the original, a simple science-fiction adventure story as opposed to an intelligent and philosophical look at complex issues. It tried to copy the device of a surprise ending but failed. Schaffner's famous final twist is shocking, but makes perfect sense in the context of what has gone before. Burton's makes no sense whatsoever.
Tim Burton can be a director of great originality, but with 'Planet of the Apes' he fell into the standard Hollywood trap of trying to copy what had already been done and remaking a film that never needed to be remade. It was good to see him return to form with the brilliant 'Big Fish', one of the best films of last year. 6/10
Thank you Hollywood. Yet another movie classic utterly ruined by a cheap,
shallow, effect-heavy and redundant remake. The original "Planet of the
Apes" was an intelligent and thought-provoking movie with a very clear
message. It was a movie that focused almost entirely on dialogue, which
sounds very dull but was in fact very interesting.
This movie, on the other hand, seems to have done away with pretty much ALL the dialogues. Instead of a great movie we get an incredibly stupid two hour chase movie. Dialogue has been reduced to a mere minimum, character interaction and development are non-existent and most of the time it's extremely hard to figure out what's going on. Instead, we get a bunch of pointless action scenes, some marginally funny one-liners and some very hollow quasi-intelligent conversations.
The only thing worth mentioning about this movie is that it looks absolutely fantastic. The make-up of the apes is magnificent, and the sets and backgrounds are beautiful too. However, this does not distract from the fact that "Planet of the Apes (2001)" is a very shallow and simplistic movie, filled with paper-thin characters, stupid dialogue and a nearly non-existent plot. Please Hollywood, stop ruining great movies by turning them into senseless blockbusters.
Oh yeah, the ending did not make ANY SENSE WHATSOEVER.
* out of **** stars, mainly for the visuals
After seeing Tim Burton's excellent Sleepy Hollow, and superlative Ed
I was expecting much more of a character driven movie, with the
characterization and spiritual philosopies that elevated the original
out of the pure science fiction genre and into a cerebral adventure film
with acutely observed social comments.
Unfortunately, the film suffers from poor script and direction right from the minute the astronaut crashlands.
They knew from the outset that they would never produce an ending to rival the original, and any cinema-goer in their right minds would never expect one. But they could have at least got the beginning right. Neither Mark Wahlberg's character nor the tension is ever developed, so when he is confronted by the apes: we feel nothing.
The humans, though they have the benefit of increased intelligence and speech, are poorly utilized. And Kris Kristofferson is criminally wasted.
The make-up and effects are, as you would expect, fantastic. However, despite improved flexibility in the make-up, there is little warmth in either the performances or direction that made millions of kids go ape-nuts in the seventies. Bonham-Carter's Ari, whilst convincing, is not a patch on Kim Hunter's Zira. Roth's quite brilliant performance as Thade virtually carries this film and makes it the one reason to stick with it to the end.
Did I say end? Well, the less said about that the better.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Warning: Spoilers Galore!
Tim Burton remaking this sui generis movie is about as sensible as remaking Psycho - oh, that's right, some idiot already did that - I rest my case.
Movie opens with chimpnaut blundering a simulation, proving he's not that smart from the outset. Marky Mark appears in shot without his characteristic underpants showing, then is turned down by a plain woman who prefers the touch of chimpanzees.
The perfunctory establishing shot of the space station orbiting Saturn for no apparent reason, interior of ship a-bustle with genetic experiments on apes. Must we travel 1,300 million kilometers to Saturn to conduct these experiments? The special effects team decrees it.
Marky's chimp gets lost in that staple of 60s sci-fi cinema - the Time Warp. Marky then demonstrates the space station's mind-boggling security ineptness by stealing a pod without anyone noticing, while simultaneously demonstrating his abject stupidity in mounting a deep-space rescue mission into a worm-hole for an expendable test chimp, with a million dollar vehicle with limited fuel and oxygen supplies.
Before anyone can say `Pointless Remake' Marky has surfed the worm-hole, crashed on an alien planet, removed his helmet without any thought to the lethality of the atmosphere and is being chased through a sound stage that almost resembles a lush rainforest, if it weren't for the kliegs backlighting the plastic trees.
Surprise! It's APES doing the chasing - or at least, it *would* have been a surprise if no one saw Planet Of The Apes THIRTY-THREE YEARS AGO.
Since Marky Mark did not get to show his pecs, take down his pants, or bust his lame whiteboy rap, he was characterless. Michael Clarke Duncan's gorilla teeth being inserted crookedly helped immensely in establishing *his* lack of character. Helena Bonham-Carter (aka irritating chimp activist), at a loss without a Shakespearean script, did a fine job of outdoing both Marky and Clarke as Most Cardboard Cutout. Paul Giamatti, the orangutan slave trader, secured the role of token comic relief and interspecies klutz. Though I have grown bilious in hearing puns relating to this movie, one review headline captured the essence of this Planet Of The Apes `re-imagining': `The Apes Of Roth'. While everyone else minced about looking like extras from One Million Years BC or Greystoke, Tim Roth, as Chimpanzee Thade, chews massive amounts of scenery and hurls kaka splendiferously. As entertaining as his portrayal of the psychotic Thade was, his character lacked a behavioral arc: Thade is mad when we first meet him... and he's pretty much at the same level of mad at film's end. Nice twist.
The original POTA (1968) featured a leading character, Charlton Heston's Taylor, who was so disenchanted with mankind that he left earth for space with no regrets - yet as that film progressed, Taylor unwittingly found himself locked in a battle to prove mankind's worth - as their sole champion! The original film was ultimately a tale of humiliation, not salvation: when Taylor discovers the Statue of Liberty, he is forced to realize that his species had NOT prevailed. Is there anything that cerebral or ironic to Marky Mark's Leo? Or Roth's Thade? No, but there's lots of running.
The slogans cry: Take Back The Planet .but it's the APES' planet. In this movie, humans and apes crash-landed here together, the humans having degenerated to cavepeople, allowing the apes to acquire speech and sensual body armor; the apes DESERVED to inherit the planet! Along comes Marky Mark, in true anthropocentric arrogance, taking it for granted that humans HAVE to be the apex predators, simply because they're there. `Taking it back' is as ludicrous as apes landing here in 2001, complaining, `A planet where men evolved from APES??!!' and then causing trouble with their overacting and hairy anuses.
Heston was cast in the 1968 POTA because he had established his reputation as a maverick: he WAS Ben-Hur, Michelangelo, Moses! To cast him as the mute, dogged animal in an alien society was to stupefy an audience's expectations: how crazed must a world be where Our Man Charlton cannot command respect? Marky Mark has currently only established that he has tight underpants.
Though Heston was denigrated constantly by the ape council, he dominated the screen with his charisma and stupendous overacting. When Marky Mark tries to instill fervor in the mongoloid humans, it's like that unpopular guy in school suddenly being made classroom monitor, who tells you to stop drawing penises on the blackboard and you throw a shoe at him. Burton tries to elevate Marky to humanity's icon, but he comes off as a chittering deviant. In the original film, the apes deem Taylor a deviant, yet he was, to audience and apes alike, an icon of humanity. That irony again.
It was apt that a man who elevated scene-chewing to an acting technique - Heston - should play the father of this film's primo scene-chewer, Thaddeus Roth. As Roth's ape-dad, Charlton utters his own immortal lines, turned against the HUMANS this time, `Damn them! Damn them all to hell!'
The movie gets dumb and dumber towards the end. While Thaddeus is giving Marky an ass-beating lesson, a pod descends from on high with Marky's chimpnaut in it. Apes demonstrate their hebetude by bowing in obeisance to this incognizant creature, while Marky proves his own hebetude by muttering, `Let's teach these monkeys about evolution.' Firstly, they're not monkeys, you ape! Secondly, it was genetic tampering and imbecilic plot fabrications which brought the apes to this point, not evolution. And what you intend to teach them by blowing them away with the concealed lasergun is called misanthropy, not evolution.
Giving away the twist ending would only confuse viewers into believing that Estella Warren's half-nekkid role was actually integral to the plot (be still my pants.).
No matter that he was humankind's last underpanted hope; in the end, cop apes take Marky away to Plot Point Prison where he was last heard ululating, `It's a madhouse! A MADHOUSE!!...'
In the spring of 2001 audiences seemed eager to see Tim Burton's
retelling of the 1968 classic, "Planet of the Apes." By the summer of
2001 it seemed to be the movie everybody loved to hate. Were the
criticisms fair? Not if you ask me.
2001's Planet of the Apes' biggest downfall, in my opinion, is unfortunately also it's biggest strength. Unlike many remakes which often end up as nothing more than weaker rehashes of their predecessor's this version of 'Apes' dared to be different. The plot has been stripped down to its bare bones and then rebuilt into something completely new. This is refreshing, if you ask me. Especially when rewatching it now, because just a few short years after this film came out we launched into sort of a remake renaissance, where half the tent pole films that come out every year are the same lesser rehashes that I spoke of a second ago. This film does take a moment here and there to wink at the '68 original, but Burton and his merry band of screenwriters has created a world completely original...it could be watched next to any entry of that original series as a wholey different film.
This is also the film's biggest flaw though, or at least financially speaking, because the original 'Apes' franchise has a cult following behind it that could almost rival that of Star Wars or Star Trek. The core audience for this film really only wanted to see their favourite story told with modern day effects and makeup. I don't think we needed that, but I'm not sure how many would agree with me.
Now, if you want to compare the two films plots and decide which one is stronger that's a whole other debate. But I don't think that's fair, that's why I champion it for taking such a different approach. I don't think this movie should be compared to any other movie and with that mindset a much better appreciation can be found. To put it bluntly, this movie ain't bad...in fact it's actually pretty good.
I won't deconstruct the plot for you...if you're interested enough to be reading this you probably at least know the jist of it anyway. But it's a solid and interesting plot that sets up a very fun and entertaining action adventure flick. Visually its in many ways a departure from typical Burton fair but his stamp is definitely evident in its art direction, and the atmosphere he creates in this jungle/desert/urban/high tech universe is really something to behold. The apes are not only impressive in terms of makeup but they are also creatively impressive from the choices of the species to match personalities, the incredible costumes and simply perfect performances by a cast who act through all that latex. And while I'm praising I'll also throw up a shout out for Danny Elfman's great score, which just might be one of his best.
The only caveat I'll lay on the movie is that the twist ending, obviously conceived to rival the famous twist of the original, kind of falls flat. BUT...considering how many instalments the original franchise had I have no doubt that the producers had hoped to make a sequel had this film been more financially successful, and had that sequel been made maybe we would've learned the story behind this twist and all would've been forgiven.
It's a little too late to say, 'long story short,' but I will anyway. Give this movie a fair shot. It may not be without its flaws but how many movies are? Try not to compare it to the original, just watch it with a bowl of popcorn and have fun.
Tim Burton's new "Planet of the Apes" is actually a remake--excuse me, a "re-imagining"--of the first TWO movies of the old series. Its occasional paraphrasing of lines from the original movie (devoid of any meaningful context), and its cameos by members of the original cast (Charlton Heston and Linda Harrison), only underscore that this new version isn't what the original was, i.e., an original. Mark Wahlberg, as Our Hero, has none of the cynical, edgy complexity of Heston's Taylor, and is in fact the sort of can-do flyboy Taylor found laughable. Much as I adore Helena Bonham Carter, her turn as Ari, a sultry, sexy, meddling, annoying human-rights activist, is ultimately tiresome, and absolutely incomparable to Kim Hunter's brave, brilliant, impish Zira of the old series. The role is also a criminal waste of Bonham Carter's beauty, hidden as it is behind a bizarre makeup that looks neither ape nor human. Rick Baker's highly-touted ape makeups (which I've enjoyed since the days of "Schlock" and "Kentucky Fried Movie") are highly uneven here. Tim Roth's villainous Thade has the best, with most of the rest being just adequate and no particular improvement over John Chambers' work in the original. And the socko ending (keep reading; I won't spoil it for you) is simply tacked on: unlike the jolting end of the original, it neither ties together nor arises from the movie's earlier action in a way that Explains Everything. Instead, it begs so many questions (mainly "How the heck did THAT happen?") that it seems engineered (or contrived) solely to set the stage for more sequels. All told, this is "Apes Lite," a comic-bookish caricature of the original, made for the short-attention-span crowd. It made me want to do something I hadn't done in ages: fire up the VCR and roll the original again. It's typical of the 1968 movie's gritty, clever irony that the first word of dialogue uttered by an ape--his entire line, in fact--is "Smile."
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film is another of director Tim Burton's attempts to capitalize on a
familiar title to bring his `vision' to the screen. He has done it with
`Batman', `Sleepy Hollow' and now this. This is not a remake. The only
thing it has in common with the original is that it has simians that can
speak (and Charleton Heston makes a cameo). Burton has reconstituted the
entire story, watering it down for today's mass viewership.
The original Planet of the Apes was a product of its time. During the 1960's America was struggling to redefine its civilization. It was a turbulent time of soul searching and rethinking social norms. It was the civil rights era where groups long considered inferior demanded to be treated as equal. In that context, POTA was allegorical, reflecting the philosophical turmoil confronting the audiences of the day. POTA was an extremely intelligent film that broached difficult questions and elegantly held the oppressions of American society up to scrutiny by making the white guy justify his intelligence to a species he considered inferior. The dialectic between Colonel Taylor (Charleton Heston), Dr. Cornelius (Roddy McDowall) and Dr. Zira (Kim Hunter) was thought provoking and intelligent with ironies both subtle and obvious.
Burton's version is as much a product of today's times as POTA was of the sixties. This is Apes for Dummies. It is superficial and jejune, substituting politically correct platitudes for intelligent dialogue and focusing more on form than substance. The `surprise' ending is utterly incongruous and contributes nothing to the film except a cliffhanger that sets up the sequel. While the ending of the original POTA gracefully tied everything together in a single powerful scene, Burton's ending simply mocks the audience, taunting, `I know something you don't know, and you are going to have to wait for the sequel to find out.'
From a technical perspective, as is always the case with Burton's film, the film is excellent. The makeup is fantastic and Burton's camerawork is outstanding (though I continue to dislike his dark look). However, thirty-three years of advancements in prosthetic makeup can not compensate for the insultingly vacuous script.
The story has been reduced to a monster movie. The humans band together behind Captain Davidson (Mark Wahlberg) to fight the monstrous Apes, aided and abetted by a few turncoats (notably Helena Bonham Carter as Ari). The presentation is formulaic and simplistic with plenty of violence, perfect for today's fast food mentality.
The acting is mixed. Mark Wahlberg is a fine actor who is simply miscast in this role. Walberg is excellent at playing dark, sullen characters that are tormented but strong. This part requires an inspirational hero, a profile not in Wahlberg's repertoire. Helena Bonham Carter is a brilliant actor whose character is so far beneath her ability that the disconnect is laughable. She tries desperately to do something with the flimsy character, but her interpretation presents like a cross between a college peace demonstrator and love sick teenager.
Then there is Tim Roth. His is a virtuoso performance, single-handedly saving the film from total ruin. Roth is diabolically hateful as the malevolent General Thade. He creates one of the most villainous and despicable bad guys I can remember in some time. Additionally, his physical acting is superlative, rendering a chimp-man that is such a perfect meld that one can almost believe that the species exists.
This film is a great disappointment. It is decent entertainment, as long as you check your brain at the door. I rated it a 3/10. From a technical perspective it is much better than that, perhaps a 9/10. However the story is an insult to the original franchise. It is simply another attempt by Burton at self adulation, using a familiar title to attract throngs to the box office so lots of people can see what a genius he is. Of course it's true, but it would be great if he used that talent to produce substantial films, instead of simple minded pap formulated for mass consumption.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If there's one thing that annoys me most in seeing a bad film, it's
seeing it done by experienced film-makers who ought to know better.
This "re-imagining" of Planet of the Apes could have used some
imagination, to say nothing of essential elements of character
development. Nova, the girl in the original Planet of the Apes, was a
better developed character than Daena in this version, for all that she
does not say a single word. One certainly expected a lot better from
Tim Burton, a man who has hitherto combined an incredible visual
imagination with intelligence, wit and humour, all of which were
notably absent from this production.
There were problems in basic plot development. The first big mistake was allowing the humans to talk. This was the fundamental difference between apes and men that made *all* the difference in the original film. Even while he was mute, his ability to communicate was what marked out Heston's Taylor as being different from the other humans. In the current film, Mark Wahlberg encourages the (talking) human slaves to revolt, but there is no overpowering reason for them to have not revolted and reclaimed their emancipation already. They are dexterous tool-users and have the ability to communicate in order to form plans, something mute humans can't do. It needs no man to fall from the stars to save them. Indeed, since he comes from a technological civilisation and finds himself in a pre-technology era without (at first) any gadgets to help him, it is Wahlberg who ought to be at a disadvantage, not the humans who are used to living there.
It was sad to see Helena Bonham Carter working so hard to generate some kind of spark between herself and that unresponsive brick wall Mark Wahlberg. Her best scenes were with the villainous Tim Roth.
The humans were practically ignored until they were needed in the third act, at which point Daena started showing some actual interest in Davidson (Wahlberg), and a young boy suddenly changed from part of the background to a feisty gung-ho freedom-fighter. This was poor character development. (Estella Warren, in particular, looked as if she would have been capable of a great deal more than she was given in the script). Wahlberg's puzzlement at the end as to what these humans see in him was certainly shared by me, as he has scarcely interacted with the humans throughout.
Creating the apes: half a plus point and two minuses: Ape make-up was excellent on the males, particularly Michael Clarke Duncan who has incredibly expressive eyes (which was why he was so good in The Green Mile), and the makeup design allowed him to use them fully. But the ape females looked like nothing on earth, neither ape nor human. The minuses were the ape jumps which looked about as realistic as Flash Gordon's rocket: jumping apes looked as if they'd just been fired from a catapult, they had none of the long-limbed grace of genuine apes. Secondly, the poor sound mixing - when the gorillas roar it is quite clearly dubbed from some animal, probably feline, making them sound ridiculous and unrealistic.
In the original film, the various "human" things the apes do and say are handled as light relief ("I never knew an ape I didn't like." "Human see, human do!"). Here, the apes just talk matter-of-factly exactly as 21st Century humans do, and there is no humour in it at all. The only genuinely original idea was Ari writing with her feet.
Nothing made me cringe more than the "V-Ger from Star Trek" moment near the end of the film. First of all, the apes had apparently been able to read Roman lettering in the distant past, for them to know the name of the Forbidden Zone in its partly concealed form. Secondly, the mysterious inscription giving the name is merely covered with sand which Wahlberg just brushes away, something any ape could have done centuries ago. This moment was, for me, far worse than the much-maligned ending of the movie.
Things of that nature, however, are typical of most science fiction movies of today. Back in the '60s and '70s, they generally didn't have the budget to make convincing futuristic sets, but they dealt with genuinely original themes and ideas which were truly science fictional. I'm thinking of 2001: A Space Odyssey, the 1967 Planet of the Apes, THX1138, Soylent Green, Silent Running and the 1972 Solaris. The first Planet of the Apes even utilised the only scientifically valid and physically possible method of travelling forward in time. However, this film includes just about every bad science fiction cliché going: space storms, anomalies and worm holes straight out of Star Trek; the planets of the solar system and their moons apparently all visible together as large globes (in reality from any one planet, all other bodies, even their own moons, are just points of light); a conventional rocket powered shuttle travelling from Saturn to Earth in a matter of minutes instead of years; two-thousand year old equipment firing up and fully working the minute the hero presses the button. To say nothing of a conveniently bulletproof internal glass door. In a contemporary setting, you'd have to explain *why* it was bullet proof, but because it's "science fiction" you don't have to!
Overall, Burton's most disappointing film.
Awhile back, I commented on the original 'Planet of the Apes' film prior to
seeing this remake at the cinemas. When I saw the original, I was fully
expecting the remake to kick some serious butt, and be far superior to the
1960s version. Why? Better visual effects being 2001 and all, one of my
favorite actors in Tim Roth starring in it, and a great director named Tim
Burton. Nothing could surely go wrong with Burton in the director's chair.
Granted, I was never a huge fan of the POTA films, but seeing the potential
here for a remake or revision by Burton made my mouth water. Then, in 2001,
I got advance tickets and I began to watch one of the most anticipated
movies for that year...
I left the cinema very disappointed! Disappointment can cloud criticism though, and sometimes makes you bitter towards a movie and not see the positives. So I tried to look at the good. The make-up was excellent, but inconsistent in parts, but I still feel that area should have been nominated for an Oscar. Okay, that's good! Tim Roth was amazing in his performance but his character was not that great and seriously lacked depth. Helena Bonham Carter was also fairly decent in this film. And, finally some of the cinematography was fairly nice.
What really let the remake of 'Planet of the Apes' down, was by in large, Tim Burton. This is, without a doubt, his worst film that I've seen! I cannot really compliment the direction of this movie, as it seemed self-aware and indulgent in being the "remake". The script was awful, as well as the integration of one-liners from the original films to this new one. I groaned completely during Heston's cameo, particularly due the referrals to the original film. The remake should have been a film in its own right, and should have focused on creating a compelling story and universe, instead of opting for lame jokes revolving around Charlton Heston in ape make-up as Thade's father. The hero of the new film in Mark Whalberg was one-note, but he was given such a boring character who just went through the motions. Going to take a risk- check, gets sucked through a new dimension- check, captured by Apes- check, escape- check and so on and so on. I never felt anything for his character at all, and that was partly his performance and partly the woeful script/direction. Estella Warren was awful, and Kris Kristofferson played the obligatory predictable role of the her father. Michael Clarke Duncan suited his part, but never became a well established character, and Paul Giamatti was okay as Limbo, but was obviously the comic relief. I also did not like the art direction was the Ape City, and found the original far more convincing in look and as a story.
While, General Thade was certainly a memorable chimp because of Roth's performance, it's a shame the character was wasted in an extremely formulaic and cliche story! 'Planet of the Apes' (2001) is nowhere near the worst film of 2001, it certainly was the most disappointing for me, considering the potential it had with the dynamic vision of Tim Burton and the modern visual f/x to create a film that stands out in its own right. It's just a pity Tim Burton chose to make a Hollywoodized self-aware gimmicky version that ends up being significantly inferior to the original film, instead of on par with it! And yes, Burton's 'Mars Attacks' is also better than his remake here! 'Planet of the Apes' gets a reluctant pass for Tim Roth's performance, the superb make-up and the decent cinematography, however that still doesn't save it from silly mediocrity.
**½ out of *****!
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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