Laura Clifford Robin CliffordIn the year 2029, Captain Leo Davidson (Mark Wahlberg, "Boogie Nights") is training 'his' chimp Pericles to pilot a pod from the USAF Oberon space station. When an electromagnetic storm is encountered and Pericles' pod is lost, Davidson sets out unauthorized and lands thousands of years in the future on the "Planet of the Apes."
Maybe if 20th Century Fox had set the proverbial 100 chimps in front of typewriters they would have gotten a better result than this adaptation of the Pierre Boulle novel by William Broyles Jr. ("Cast Away"), and Lawrence Konner & Mark D. Rosenthal ("Mighty Joe Young"). Director Tim Burton's unique look and style are nowhere to be found in this silly, pointless remake.
Davidson no sooner lands than he finds himself being swarmed by savages running in terror, whom he wisely joins. However, he's rounded up with the lot of them by the apes which rule this plant and handed over to slave trader Limbo (Paul Giamatti, "Duets"). Ari (Helena Bonham Carter, "Fight Club"), daughter of the illustrious Senator Sandar (David Warner, "Titanic") and simian bleeding heart, believes humans should live with apes on equal standing, an unpopular notion. She takes a liking to Leo, who she deems 'unusual.' General Thade (Tim Roth, "Lucky Numbers") is of the opposite opinion, wishing for declaration of martial law that will allow him to annihilate the race. He's sweet on Ari.
It's relatively easy to see where this 'new' story is going from the onset, yet its ultimate revelation has gaping logic holes. The much ballyhooed 'surprise' ending is a nonsensical let down. An attempt at a love triangle, conveyed by Ari and the human Daena (Estella Warren, "Driven") giving each other 'back off' looks over Leo, fails because he never develops a relationship with either of them. The lone sex scene is some hilarious foreplay between elder Orangutan Senator Nado (Glenn Shadix) and his trophy wife Nova (Burton's squeeze, Lisa Marie). Guffaws will also likely greet Charlton Heston's cameo as Thade's Father, the one ape harboring a firearm (!) who sputters some very familiar lines before dying.
The only real success of the 2001 "Planet of the Apes" is Rick Baker's makeup, and even that's an iffy affair. No attempt was made to change the human whiteness of the actors' eyes, a real distraction amidst some otherwise impressive work. Roth, Warner and Michael Clarke Duncan (as Thade's right hand man Attar) are given the most impressive makeovers. Giamatti looks more like a skull than an ape and the female apes are too humanized, I presume to be given sexual appeal. Tim Roth delivers the most impressive acting job by getting the body language right - his nasty chimpanzee character leaps about, most spectacularly when mounting his steed, but even's he's undone by some obvious wire work. Bonham Carter delivers a goodly range of emotion from behind a stiff prosthetic, but is undone in turn by the silliness of the writing.
Most of the film has a set bound look which no amount of mist can cover. The ape's city resembles a dank complex of tree houses. The apes' military costumes (Colleen Atwood, "Sleepy Hollow") as well as their field tents are reminiscent of Eiko Ishioka's work on Coppola's "Dracula." That oriental flavor is also found in Danny Elfman's tribal, percussive score.
"Planet of the Apes" was the last blockbuster hope for the summer of 2001, a dismal movie season that's going to the dogs.
Robin did not see this film.
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