STARRING: Mark Wahlberg, Tim Roth, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Clarke Duncan, Kris Kristofferson, Estella Warren, Paul Giamatti, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa

2001, 110 Minutes, Directed by: Tim Burton

Description: While attempting the space-pod retrieval of a chimpanzee test pilot, Major Leo Davidson (Mark Wahlberg) enters a magnetic storm that propels him into the distant future, where he crash-lands on the ape-ruled planet. Among the primitively civilized apes, treatment of enslaved humans is a divisive issue: senator's daughter Ari (Helena Bonham Carter) advocates equality while the ruthless General Thade (Tim Roth) promotes extermination.  —

Is it fair to compare a remake to the original? Of course it is. And any director or producer who does a remake better be prepared for such comparisons. Recently I watched a TV remake of High Noon and thought - what's the point? The original, while in Black and White (and what glorious Black & White!) was a perfectly made political western tale. And while it was set in the 1800s it was really a tale of the 1950s. A remake, even with a much better lead actor, removed from that era was doomed to failure from the start. Sadly director Tim (Batman, Mars Attacks!) Burton's Planet of the Apes suffers the same fate.

Tim Burton's remake fails to measure up to the classic in most areas. Burton's film lacks the scope of the 1968 film. The original Planet of the Apes was a social satire of its times. Sure some of its wit seemed a bit forced - see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil - but with that the viewer gets an epic look at the the social make up of the ape society. Burton's film doesn't give you that same look. Without giving too much away the new Planet of the Apes settles too early into a simple quest film. Too much of the action takes place away from the ape city so that you never get a good look at its social makeup. And talk about forced humor - "Why can't we all just get along".

"Lacks the scope of the original 1968 film . . ."

The new film makes an attempt at looking at the apes' religion but too little screen time is given to it for it to have much bite. This film really needed someone like Maurice Evans spouting phony baloney religious tones. The interesting thing about Evans' Dr. Zauis is that he knew all along that he was speaking tripe and covering up the truth. He did want he did because he felt he knew what the public (his ape public) good was. The ape was Ollie North long before the world ever heard of Ollie North. Tim Burton's film lacks this character and boy is that attitude missed in the new film.

And while in my mind Chuck (Omega Man, Soylent Green) Heston may not be much of a human being he was and still is a great movie star. Note: I didn't say actor - I said movie star. Heston has an epic quality and he brings it to the least of his film projects. It would be a joke to compare Markie Mark to Chuck Heston. At this point in his career he still lacks that larger than life quality that this film needed. A better choice for the role would have been someone like Russell Crowe.

Still, on the plus side Tim Roth and Helen Bonham Carter are excellent in their roles. Neither lets the large amounts of makeup that they are wearing get in their way. In fact Ms Carter comes across as being one sexy ape. They should have had the courage to go for that talked about sex scene between her and Markie Mark.

The makeup is a big improvement on the original. But by this time I've seen so many big budget special effects movie that very little surprises me and I expect nothing but the best in makeup and special effects. So there are no real surprises to be found in the new film.

And talking about surprises. When I first saw the original movie I was blown away by the ending. I was just 13 at the time and never saw this coming. There is no way Tim Burton could have topped Heston's "Damn it all to hell" rant so he shouldn't have bothered. But he did and if you don't see this one coming you have to be blind as a bat even if you are just 13. And while its not a surprise, it makes no sense at all.

See the the film for Tim Roth and the sexy Helen Bonham Carter. There is little else to recommend it.

- Frank A. Johnson

Pointless. Nice make-up though. James O'Ehley




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