Wednesday, August 27, 2003


A Video Review of "Planet of the Apes" (2001)

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

Here's what you have to do to enjoy this movie: forget the original movie from 1968. In the words of Tim Burton, "This is a revisiting not a remake." As pompous as that sounds and as much as I hate Tim Burton as a person (he has great vision and has made a few wonderful films but in my opinion the man is an asshole), it is sound advice.

Re-imagining equals same concept but a different story. Mark Wahlberg working with experimental primates at a deep space station follows one of his test chimpanzees through a cosmic storm and ends up on a world where apes dominate and humans serve.

The make-up in the 2001 film is as advanced and sophisticated for today as 1968's was for its day. So real and flexible are the 'masks' that the acting of Helena Bonham Carter and Paul Giamotti is positively phenomenal. Emotion and performance come through as if it were their real skin. Every actor is completely unhindered by the apelike visage.

The same can be said of the rest of the apes' physical appearance from reactions to simple things like walking and running. The battle scenes are marked by the apes' ability to leap and run on all four limbs. In many ways this is an amazing film.

Tim Roth and Michael Clarke Duncan do excellent turns as villains to Mark Wahlberg's usual hesitant hero. I wish he would choose a heroic role that's a definite hero for a change. I know he can pull it off, you know it, I just don't think Mr. Wahlberg does.

We are also treated to few bonuses that stand out. In a cameo appearance as an ape, Charlton Heston, star of the original Planet of the Apes, recites one of his famous lines in a sly bit of irony. Also impressive is the concept of 'humans' rights' in a sarcastic nod to P.E.T.A.


The ending. Good God. Let's talk about the ending. Forget the last five minutes of this film. It's crap and ruins every other logical minute of the film.

In the end Marky Mark leaves the planet of the apes and by all rights and story logic should have returned to his space station in own time. The movie should have ended when his ship blasts off. But it doesn't much to my dismay.

He lands on what appears to be Earth, Washington D.C. to be precise, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial which of course is a monument to General Thade. He is promptly assailed by ape police officers and then we go to fade and credits.

A scene very similar to this appeared in a "Jay and Silent Bob" comic book by the genius Kevin Smith quite some time before this movie started production. When pressed by reporters Burton stated that he had never read a comic book, especially one by Kevin Smith, maintaining the bad blood between the directors since Burton rejection of Smith's brilliant script for the Superman Lives film project.

Kevin Smith's perfect response to Burton's statement? "Well, that explains Batman." God bless Kevin Smith.

Back to the movie. Good special effects, better story logic than the original and some excellent action sequences. That said, 2001's Planet of the Apes is a great flick, excepting the last five minutes. It's probably not going to birth a bevy of sequels like the original though.

Rating: ***1/2

***** Must see
**** Worth seeing
*** So you have eight dollars you want to throw away…
** Is Adam Sandler in this mess?
* A bullet would be quicker.

The above previously appeared in a much shorter and much less interesting form at the late lamented Project Popcorn website at:

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