Planet Of The Apes


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Planet Of The Apes
"Nowhere near as bad as I expected."

Ordinarily I love Tim Burton's work, though I did think Sleepy Hollow was weak in many ways, and Mars Attacks! could really have benefited from a stronger editor; on that basis, I had been looking forward to Planet of the Apes for quite some time. Considering the word of mouth I had received from certain sources, and the rather feeble trailer, I was, on the other hand, convinced that I was about to subject myself to something awful. As it happened, the film is nowhere near as bad as I expected. It showcases some truly dreadful performances (poor Tim Roth, never more flimsy, especially opposite Charlton Heston, who squeezes more charisma into his 11 lines than the rest of the actors put together) and in places the script is dire, but elsewhere, unexpectedly, come moments of genius.

The whole thing looks like a Tim Burton movie, of course, which is interesting in contrast with the original. I like the way that the ape city has been built to suit ape movements and lifestyles, though I am confused by the notion that civilised creatures obsessed with hygiene would have built anything so dark and dirty.

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Helena Bonham Carter, when she isn't being irritatingly super-feminine and Earth-mothery, is impressive, especially in the scene on the riverbank, which suggests that the story might have been something far more interesting if only the differences between ape and human behaviours had been genuinely explored. Mark Wahlberg is adequate in a necessarily blank leading role.

Estella Warren's character rather intriguingly manages to be dumber than Nova despite being able to speak; I was pleased by the way that she is sidelined and never allowed to be more than a groupie, never allowed to overwhelm the hero's reason just because she has blonde hair and prominent tits; this is altogether more convincing and affectingly pathetic than what happened with Nova in the original film.

The, ahem, liberties which Burton takes with the form of the spaceship are delightful, as are his religious jokes, seemingly well enough hidden from the fundie critics. At times I wondered if what I was really watching was a re-interpretation of Michael Moorcock's classic tale Behold, The Man!

The ending seems tacked-on and unnecessary, signifying nothing. I'd venture to say that it also makes less sense to non-Americans; I have only ever seen the statue in question in cartoon form in an episode of The Simpsons, which served simply to persuade me that Lisa Simpson could have made a far more interesting protagonist. Visually, this film is gorgeous. In terms of the ideas involved, it had a lot of potential. I would love to see this version remade properly. It has an unfinished, making-do quality which only makes me sadder over the loss of Stanley Kubrick, who knew how to do this sort of thing properly.

Reviewed on: 27 Jun 2007
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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
Stephen Carty **
Angus Wolfe Murray **

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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