Thursday, November 10, 2011

Planet of the Apes (2001)

Movie quotes:"The young ones make great pets. Just make sure you get rid of them before they mature. Believe me, the last thing you want is a human teenager running around your house."
- Limbo

At a glance:
Although Tim Burton’s take on the apes franchise is flawed in big ways, it’s still entertaining pulp sci-fi

Our review (with spoilers):
From the very beginning, there are gorilla-sized problems with Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes. First, the space sequences have nothing that stamps it as a Burton film. Then, we get to the Planet (of the you-know-whos) and suddenly Burton decides that the apes should be amusing quipsters, obsessed human-lovers, or violent warriors. Every ape is a cliché. No one truly cared about making the apes into layered characters, so they come off like so many cartoon Grinches, with no one more Grinchy than Limbo (Paul Giamatti). Contrast this (and I know it’s not completely fair to flash forward) with the way Ceasar is constructed in 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes. He is leader, friend, warrior, and thinker – capable of limitless paths and emotions – and his multi-layered character is created virtually without using the spoken language.

The good news about Burton’s take on the Planet is that his eccentric touches finally are evident. The choices might be wrong, but it’s still fun to watch. For example, he sets up an unusual love triangle, with Ari the chimp (Helena Bonham Carter) and Daena the underage cave-girl (Estella Warren) both fawning over stranded astronaut Leo Davidson (Mark Wahlberg). The film continues to improve once Leo leads a small band of apes and humans against the warring regiments of the brutal Thade (Tim Roth). Charleton Heston gets an extended cameo dying scene as Thade’s father.

Even though the choices are strange, Wahlberg’s performance seems too subdued, and this feels like a film driven to cash in on the franchise, it’s still light entertainment and a lot of breezy fun.

Rating: 2.5 of 4

Other reviewers said:
" of the most entertaining check-your-brain-at-the-door flicks in recent years."
- David Nusair (Reel Film Reviews)


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