PLANET OF THE APES (2001)
AN UNFORTUNATE THUMBS DOWN FILM REVIEW RATING (2 out of 5 Rating)!
The remake of any classic story is always sure to breed controversy among its fans and Planet of the Apes is no exception. It's also the custom of many a reveiwer to take advantage of a remake's shortfalls by emphasizing the strengths of the original. I'm going to break with tradition and critque Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes based on it's own merits (or lack thereof).
As it's title would suggest, the story that fills Planet of the Apes is nothing ground breaking. Near future space pilot Leo Davidson (Mark Wahlberg) heads out into the final frontier only to be whisked away by an electromagnetic storm. The storm subsides only to send Leo crashing into a planet filled with...you guessed it, apes! The natives are naturally less than friendly and Leo has his hands full for the rest of the film.
The strong points in Apes reveal themselves fairly quickly. Director Tim Burton spares no expense for his film's incredible makeup and sets. Every ape is portrayed as a convincing primate and all the sets are designed with the tree swingers in mind. The performances from each of the apes are also bold, from General Thade's roaring villain (by the powerful Tim Roth) to the femimine activist Ari (a very convincing Helena Bonham Carter), to the brooding bodyguard Krull (the always underrated Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa). For certain the apes leave an impression on the veiwer, but taken as a whole this film fails to offer anything else.
Apes fails with it's protagonists, especially Wahlberg who practically drums out his lines like he's being asked to recite an oath. None of the human characters in film have anything to offer, spending the entire movie following around Wahlberg with marble faces. The story also seems far too rushed, never granting enough time for the characters to develop any relationship beyond the basic cliches. The ending is less shocking than obviously intended and serves no interesting purpose besides letting everyone and their dog know that a sequel is in the air.
Overall this film turns out very, very average. Although the cliches are not quite as rampant as one might expect, Tim Burton's remake of the 1968 classic offers nothing new. The high production values are obviously meant to replace the mediocre story. However, while it's far from a great film, Planet of the Apes does manage to offer more than your average summer flick. But you won't be going ape over it anytime soon.