Monday, September 19, 2016

Movie Review: "Planet of the Apes" (2001)

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Movie"Planet of the Apes"
Director: Tim Burton
Year: 2001
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 59 minutes

After going through a mysterious energy field, Captain Leo Davidson (Mark Wahlberg) crash lands on an alien planet. This is a planet where the dominate species are talking apes that use the primitive humans as slaves and pets. Now, Davidson must find a way to escape the apes and return home.

"Planet of the Apes" is director Tim Burton's 2001 re-imagining of the 1965 film of the same name. This version stars Mark Wahlberg as Captain Leo Davidson, who is working at a deep space research station. When an electrical anomaly appears close by, they send Leo's chimp Pericles to investigate. When Pericles doesn't return, as per protocol, Leo heads after him through the anomaly and crashes down on a nearby alien planet. He is immediately exposed to a tribe of fleeing humans, who are being hunted by highly evolved apes. On this planet, apes are the dominant species and they use humans as slaves and pets. The apes are made up of a very strong ensemble cast including Helena Bonham Carter, Paul Giamatti, Tim Roth, Michael Clark Duncan, Cary-Hiroykui Tagawa, and David Warner. Charlton Heston also has an uncredited cameo as Zaius because why not.

Out of all of Tim Burton's films, "Planet of the Apes" is the least Burtonesque. In fact, there's nothing in this film that would lead anyone to think Tim Burton directed it. It doesn't really contain his signature gothic look or his whimsical brightly colored visions, favoring a boring, drab, neutral color scheme for such an occasion. This is a far more traditional looking sci-fi action film, one that does't pair with Burton's past works. Rick Baker's makeup work is exceptional as he manages to create very realistic humanoid apes most of the film. Despite some really good visuals and the occasional moment of entertaining action sequences, this film falls short in every other way. This is mostly due to the acting, especially Mark Wahlberg, who somehow manages to be both one-note and overdone, and Estella Warren, whose line delivery is completely monotonous and awful. The actors in ape makeup, including Giamatti, Roth, Duncan, and most of the time Bonham Carter, give better performances, except for the fact they all clearly sound like they are wearing prosthetic teeth, giving them a bit of a speech impediment. The story itself also doesn't make a heck of a lot of sense. We can buy the explanation this film gives as far as why the apes are the way they are and where they came from, but there are many questions left unanswered. How did the apes get horses and where did they come from? This is mostly a trivial matter, but it does take the audience out of the story and may rattle in the back of your mind. The biggest problem with this version of the story is its absolutely preposterous and completely inexplicable ending. It seems like the filmmakers wanted a shocking twist ending and were stuck on this completely inorganic, out of left field finale, but it also makes no sense whatsoever.

To us, "Planet of the Apes" is Burton's first real slip up as a director. Combine his non-existent visual style and aesthetic with some stiff performances and poorly written dialogue and you've got a recipe for a  mess.

My Rating: 4/10
BigJ's Rating: 5/10
IMDB's Rating: 5.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 45%
Do we recommend this movie: No.

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