Planet Of The Apes


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Planet Of The Apes
"It hardly helps having Mark Wahlberg in the lead. As charismatic as seaweed, he creates a new milestone in minimalist acting. It's called not acting."

Are these monkeys more ape-like than when Charlton Heston knew them? They charge into battle on all fours. They hang upside down in their bedrooms. They roar at each other and make racist remarks, treating humans as slaves. The kids play basketball and females wear pyjamas. They swap truisms: "One thing you don't want in your house is a human teenager." They never seem to eat, or go to the lavatory.

It would seem unthinkable that the director of Edward Scissorhands, Batman and The Nightmare Before Christmas could make the modern version of this minor sci-fi classic boring and yet Tim Burton does just that. It hardly helps having Mark Wahlberg in the lead. As charismatic as seaweed, he creates a new milestone in minimalist acting. It's called not acting.

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The story is pretty much the same as before. Spaceman lands on oxygen-friendly planet, where humans are hunted by apes on horseback. He is captured with a bunch of others, including Kris Kristofferson in a curly grey wig and his screen daughter (Estella Warren), whose only purpose is to look sexy in cave-girl gear. Being new to this, he makes a fuss and is singled out as potential trouble. "Keep your eye on this one. He's feisty." You have to excuse the dialogue. It's written by humans.

The daughter (Helena Bonham Carter) of an ape senator takes an interest in him, having a social conscience. Is this love at first bite? He doesn't believe in cross species fertilisation. He doesn't believe in anything much, except getting outta there, which isn't going to be easy since he's gone through a time barrier during his flight and the mother ship can only be rusting in a space grave somewhere.

He organises a revolution instead. Kris's gal and the senator's daughter join in. Potential rivalry? You wish. It might add interest to what has become a long chase across desert wastes. The good guys look like a caravan of hippies and the bad monkeys like Roman legions.

Tim Roth, as General Thade, has fun with the role, leaping about in a rage most of the time. He has a crush on the senator's daughter, which is surprising since he's a fascist bully and she's an upper-class liberal, with a guilt complex.

The make up is good, as you would expect. The script is worse. Heston has a guest scene, as Thade's dad on his deathbed, giving last minute advice. He should have said: "Stay away from remakes", but dies before getting round to it.

The film is a triumph of marketing. The thought of Burton on the Planet, creating extraordinary visual set-pieces, excites the imagination. Anticipation is high. Lower it immediately. As one ape says to another, in what passes for social chit-chat, "Would you like to freshen up?" Tell that to the writers.

Reviewed on: 16 Aug 2001
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Tim Burton's monkeys are revolting.
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Read more Planet Of The Apes reviews:

Josh Morrall ***
Symon Parsons **1/2
Jennie Kermode **1/2
Stephen Carty **

Director: Tim Burton

Writer: William Broyles Jr, Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Tim Roth, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Clarke Duncan, Paul Giamatti, Estella Warren, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, David Warner, Kris Kristofferson, Erick Avari, Lucas Elliott

Year: 2001

Runtime: 120 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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