Eye For Film >> Movies >> Planet Of The Apes (2001) Film Review
Tim Burton is a frustrating director. His films are always visually stunning, but too often he attempts too much and fires in all directions at once, creating films that tantalise without satisfying. He's also responsible for the most hyped film of the summer.
Planet Of The Apes follows the original storyline only insofar as there are talking apes. But there are talking humans too, albeit subjugated and enslaved by the physically stronger apes. It's also made clear that this film doesn't take place on Earth, so spaceman Leo (Mark Wahlberg) needn't worry about tripping over the Statue of Liberty at any point.
What he does need to worry about are huge gorillas played by the likes of Michael Clark Duncan and vicious chimps like General Thade (Tim Roth, in a startlingly nasty and scary performance) who very quickly capture him and stick him in a cage with the rest of his downtrodden species.
Help arrives in the form of a sympathetic chimp Ari (Helena Bonham Carter) who helps Leo and the rest escape. Leo's ultimate aim is to get back to his ship, which unfortunately is smack dab in the middle of the apes' holiest site and the key to how the talking apes emerged in the first place.
It looks great. As in the Sixties and Seventies ape pictures, Tim Burton's gone for the "Spartacus-meets-Survival-Special" look. But despite this, the brilliant make-up, and the huge set-piece action sequences, it just doesn't come off.
The problem is the plot which often doesn't make sense (Leo the Spaceman's Brilliant Battle Plan against the apes seems to be wait until you see the whites of the eyes and then let them rip your arms off) and a silly twist in the tale which attempts to match the cleverness of the original but simply left the audience in a state of: "Huh? But... How..?"
What's good about the film is the wicked, campy humour that Burton's influence brings, with lots of sly visual jokes, and some genuinely good performances from Carter, Roth, and Wahlberg who plays the whole thing with just the right amount of "this-can't-be-happening" in his eyes.
Comic relief is provided by the cowardly orangutan slave-dealer Limbo (Paul Giamatti) even if he does appear somewhat out of place in this film - like Bob Hope turning up in Schindler's List or something. And Charlton Heston has a cameo role as an ape and gets to deliver his, "Damn them all to Hell," line again (which created an appreciate ripple of applause from the nerds in the audience).
Unfortunately Tim Burton has created an action film without enough action, a satire without enough bite, and a science fiction film that doesn't match the original.Reviewed on: 16 Aug 2001
If you like this, try:Planet Of The Apes