Planet of the Apes (2001)
Mark Wahlberg, Tim Roth, Helena Bonham Carter
Directed By :
Tim Burton
Grade C-

This version of Planet of the Apes, directed by Tim Burton (Nightmare Before Christmas, Sleepy Hollow), is not a direct redux of the classic sci-fi tale starring Charlton Heston. As promoted, it is a "re-imagining", or a redeveloping with a 21st century flair to it. In this version, Mark Wahlberg plays an astronaut/pilot stationed on a space station orbiting Saturn. When he takes a pod out to rescue one of his pilot apes who's gone off-course in an electrical storm, he gets sucked into the storm and crash-lands on a planet where apes are the masters and humans are slaves and pets.

The most impressive thing about Apes is the wonderful costuming used in creating a believable world of life-like ape people. Also, the manner in which the actors move lends itself to a firm belief that they are, in-fact, evolved apes. Both Tim Roth and Helena Bonham Carter are fairly convincing in their mannerisms. The visual appearance of the film is also well-done. Except for a few scenes where the camera just doesn't seem to keep up with the action, the film is visually nice to look at.

Where the movie meets a sudden halt is in the story and plot in general. Planet of the Apes just doesn't feel like a Tim Burton movie. The plot is formulaic and just seems to get worse as the movie goes on. Supposedly, there's a love triangle between Wahlberg, Carter and the blonde human Warren, but a minute of exchanged glances and near-kisses do not constitue love in any manner. The plot promises to be deep and intriguing with multiple layers of politics, insurrection and hope, but just boils down to one big Braveheart-like battle and a final showdown between Wahlberg and Roth. From that point, the actual ending just comes across like a huge let-down (although I can understand why it was done that way).

At it's heart, Planet of the Apes is nothing more than your average Summer blockbuster, following in the shallow footsteps of Jurasic Park 1 & 2, Godzilla and Independence Day. It's obvious the Tim Burton only did this film so that he could get the green-light on a project of his own choosing. It has none of the intelligence and dark charm as some of his previous films. If you're looking for a decent Summer film and you've seen everything else that's out there, then go see this in a matinee. Either that, or wait until you can rent it.

- - Vane

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