In this series of articles, I’ll be posting reviews that have recently resurfaced. A number of the reviews I wrote in the past I thought had been lost to time, but after coming to a realization that they might still exist on the Wayback Machine, I was able to relocate many of them. I believe there are still some that are lost and they may be lost in perpetuity, but I will periodically search for that data or re-write those reviews that I have never found or which I never wrote to begin with.
For now, this series will be extensive with over 300 regular (400+ words), short (400- words), and quickie (1 to 2 paragraphs) reviews. I will attempt to combine them as best as I can. Reviews written in early 1998 or earlier, no date of creation exists. I will post the original writing date where known, otherwise the date will be listed as “unknown.” These reviews were written between the date of my site’s founding in 1996 through much of 2002. It was only after this period that I settled on the standard format and length of reviews as well as posting each one to its own individual page, which is why the old data was ultimately lost.
All but the review content has been replaced to match my current formatting guidelines, which are a bit more thorough than they might have been in those early days. Please note that I am attempting to retain as much of the original editing integrity as possible, so spelling and/or grammar errors may still be present. This may also mean that some factual data is not there as IMDb was not as ubiquitous as it is now. So, let’s get on to today’s review.
Planet of the Apes
William Broyles Jr., Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal (Novel: Pierre Boulle)
Mark Wahlberg, Tim Roth, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Clarke Duncan, Paul Giamatti, Estella Warren, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, David Warner, Kris Krisfofferson, Erick Avari, Luke Eberl, Evan Dexter Parke, Glenn Shadix
It was more than thirty years ago when Franklin Schaffner filmed Pierre Boule’s envisioned world where apes were the dominant species and humans were endangered. “Planet of the Apes” finds its way into the 21st century with Tim Burton’s altered remake of the 1968 classic.
The update finds Mark Wahlberg in the role of Captain Leo Davidson made famous by Charlton Heston. While Leo is researching a space phenomenon, his chimpanzee assistant boards a shuttle pod and ejects from the facility to go take a look. Leo goes in pursuit and goes into the phenomenon where his shuttle is injured in an electrical storm, travels through some mysterious anomaly and then crash lands on a planet.
Not long after landing, he and several other humans are captured by a barrage of humanoid apes and taken off to a cage facility where he is selected to work in the home where he meets human activist Ari (Helena Bonham Carter), one of the talking apes. When Leo tries to cause an insurrection, gruff leader General Thade (Tim Roth) attempts to quash the uprising, sending his troops after Leo and his escaping party.
This version of “Planet of the Apes” takes several liberties on the original. One of the most grievous of these is that Leo is not the only talking human, some of the others speak as well, a problem when half the fun of the original was Leo trying to make himself understood to his fellow slaves. Another problem is that the plot deviates heavily from the original with no four-person crew crash landing and no Statue of Liberty ending. Most will find this last the most grievous as it was a signature theme of the original, Leo remaining trapped on the planet discovers he actually landed on Earth.
Burton is certainly a master of the bizarre and knows how to tell and odd story well, but some of the selections of scenes and the new “it’s not over” conclusion make this retelling a solid flop. Burton does keep the action going, but at the expense of the original’s sanity.
Wahlberg gives us nothing to talk about other than what a better actor he was in “Three Kings” and “Boogie Night.” He plays the typical action hero and while he does have a little more emotion than his predecessor Heston did, it doesn’t add enough to the performance. The apes, on the other hand, are terrific. Carter and Roth are mesmerizing to watch. They’ve picked up several physical attributes that characterize most gorillas and apes. They both put their all into roles that are sadly two-dimensional.
Acting, directing and writing aside, the film is certainly a beauty to behold. The costume design is astounding, the set design was artistic and original, and the makeup was among the best of the year.
“Planet of the Apes” pales in comparison to the original in form and story, but excels in design. It takes the audience on an amazing journey and delivers little more than pomp and circumstance and none of the emotional precision that the first movie possessed. Burton has had a relatively uneven career recently and has lost some of the originality and inventiveness that characterized most of his previous works. Audiences, however, should enjoy much of the action, graphics and puns on the first film, but will inevitably feel let down by the lack of emotional involvement with the story and the characters.
April 30, 2002