It is the year 2029: Astronaut Leo Davidson boards a pod cruiser on a Space Station on a rescue and recovery 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
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."
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