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Planet of the Apes (2001)

Directed by Tim Burton

Planet of the Apes (2001) poster

Style-meister Tim Burton "re-imagines" the classic/hammy 1968 Chuck Heston vehicle about a world where humans live in a world dominated by aggressive and intelligent apes. As this review is being written, "Apes" has already raked in a shit-load of dough and probably will spawn at least two sequels. This is too bad. "Planet of the Apes" is awful. It's guilty of all the usual shit of today's blockbusters. It makes no effort at establishing likeable characters. The main character flounders around big sets and is carried along from scene to scene by pointless chase scenes. The messages of these films, when there are any, are deliverd in a klutzy, ham-fisted manner. The special effects rule -- it's all, "Hey, look what we can do!" "Planet of the Apes" is right on par with any of the shitty Burton-produced "Batman" flicks and are way below his best work: "Ed Wood," "Edward Scissorhands," "Beetle Juice" and "A Nightmare Before Christmas." Even the muddled "Sleepy Hollow" looks tight in comparison.

Planet of the Apes (2001) Marky Mark

This flick starts with a spaceman, played by Charlton Heston clone Marky Mark Wahlberg (I kid), following one of his prized astro-chimps into a vortex that allows time travel. He winds up traveling into the future (we know this because all the ship's chronometers somehow are able to measure this phenomenon) and, Tah-Dah!, he crashes on a red planet that is dominated by futuristic space monkeys. Before you can say "Tim Roth in a monkey suit," he's captured by the snarling human-hating chimp-generalissimo and is given to a slave trader (Paul Giamatti, who is easily the best character in this worthless flick) who sells him to a human rights activist chimp played by that Merchant-Ivory bitch, Helena Bonham Carter. I'm sorry. I really hated this movie so there's going to be a lot of pointless name calling here.

Okay, after some silly dinner chat, Marky Mark and a band of fugitive humans (including a wooden Kris Kristofferson, I know, that's redundant, and a bee-stung-lipped swimsuit model, Estella Warren) escape by passing through every chimp living room in Monkeytown. Along the way, they pick up some ape hostages: Helena Bonham Carter and Paul Giamatti, among others. This chase sequence might have worked better if played speeded up and with the "Benny Hill Show" theme music. Marky Mark leads a pursuing Tim Roth on a chase into The Forbidden Zone where Marky Mark believes he will be rescued. Once there, he is met by legions of humans who have heard of him and have come to follow him in an epic showdown with Roth's ape army. This is a remake of "Planet of the Apes," right? Maybe, Marky Mark should have yelled, "I am Spartacus!" With what follows, it couldn't have hurt.


Planet of the Apes (2001) what is love?

"Apes" is packed with unbelievable coincidences and muddy motivations. Marky Mark seems utterly disillusioned with his life and fellow humans on the space station when he decides to go after his errant test chimp. Towards the end of the flick, he passes up a future with the Estella Warren character because he's in such a frickin' hurry to get back to his own time. What for? He's a god on this planet and he's a nobody where he came from. AND he hated where he came from. Are you really rushing to get back to Kansas once you've been to Oz, Dorothy? I mean, Marky Mark...

A bigger problem, he claims to have a masterplan on how to defeat the ape army but it turns out that everything is dependent on Marky Mark's missing astro-chimp suddenly (and unexpectedly) dropping out of the heavens in the middle of the human annihilation by hordes of rampaging apes. It really is a small universe! The ape army believes the little monkey is their messiah, and when he scampers to Marky Mark for an expected treat, the apes decide to stop F-ing with the rapping spaceman. Marky Mark runs past Estella (and her screaming thigh-sweats) and jumps into his monkey's spaceship and returns to the past (geez, even on a motorcycle there's always room for a chick). He returns to his own time and crash lands on Earth. His ship comes to rest in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.. Dazed, Marky Mark ascends the steps and is confronted with the famous statue of old Abe... but instead of Lincoln's head, it's the head of the evil Tim Roth ape! Is there a reel missing?

This is the biggest "huh?" ending to a film since I saw "Eye of the Beholder" or "The Blair Witch Project." I understood that Burton was trying to top the ending to the original "Apes" but all it does is show how this version comes up short. The original had Chuck Heston coming across a half buried Statue Liberty and it was a shocking revelation. The spaceman knew that he had traveled into the future but thought he had crashed on an alien world dominated by apes but realizes he has returned to his homeland's future of nuclear devastation. The new "Apes" ending is just a forced and illogical moment, not a stunning revelation. I have to admit that the ending was THE subject of conversation among "HO" staffers (whaaa?). The general feeling was that we must have missed something that would explain the ending but take it from one of the film's producers, "IT WASN'T REALLY SUPPOSED TO MAKE SENSE"!

FOX exec Bruce Snyder goes on the record to Zap2It.Com about the ending (to "Planet of the Apes") saying: "You're not supposed to be able to (explain it). If the truth be known, it wasn't really supposed to make sense. It was just supposed to go 'whoa,' make you think. Now is he in another world, did he go back in time, did he get forward in time? The reality is there's no firm answer to that. It's whatever you want it to be." Snyder added, "Everybody keeps looking for [the answer], but you've got to remember you just watched a movie about talking monkeys in outer space. Don't look for too much logic, you know.":


Okay, we just watched a movie about talking "monkeys" (techinically, and this is important, not monkeys but apes) in outer space. I'm thinking that "we" humans ARE talking apes in outer space, so that's not really that hard to imagine. Actually, it's just a fact. We are bipedal and less hairy than our distant cousins but apes none-the-less. There but for the grace of evolution go I. There are certain fantastic elements we all can accept in any well told story. Still, it should obey the rules of its own internal logic. Superman can fly. If he suddenly can't fly, without explanation, because the storyteller needs him not to be able to fly to advance the story then the audience will notice the inconsistency. I'm not looking "for too much logic," just any logic at all. What the fuck! Can't wait for Hollywood to remake another beloved classic and rape the ever-lovin' shit out it. Jesus fuckin' Christ! -- Rating: $1.25

Tom Graney -- copyright Hollywood Outsider 2002

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