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Planet of the Apes

A movie directed by Tim Burton

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Planet of The Apes: What is That Horrible Stench?!

  • Dec 31, 2001
  • by
Pros: Special effects make-up

Cons: Everything else

The Bottom Line: A stinker, a hacker of a movie, your money and time is better spent on the original.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot.

Half way through this very tired and ill-written rendition of classic Planet of the Apes directed by Tim Burton, I almost turned it off so strong was the smell of garbage oozing from the 32 inch screen in my living room. But being the dedicated review I am I suffered until the end in order to write this review and perhaps save you, gentle reader, from my fate.

By the end of the film I dumbfounded by the multitude of holes in the script and the general sense that not much thought went into the final product. The movie was riddled with scenes that went nowhere, subplots that made little or no sense, and just plain bad science. This remake of the Planet of the Apes felt more like a Saturday afternoon Japanese “B” monster movie with cheesy sub-titled more than a big budget major Hollywood studio offering. It was quite literally embarrassing to watch, and had I been at a movie theater I would have walked out!

This updated Planet of the Apes begins well enough, in outer space on an Air Force space station orbiting Saturn, or at least the planet looked like Saturn. Mark Wahlberg portrays Leo Davidson a hot head (predictably enough), Air Force captain whose job it is to train monkeys to do his job. What is his job you might ask? Well we never really find out exactly, something to do with flying. During an unexplained electrical storm Pericles, Leo’s prize chimp is lost on a mission to take analyze the storm. Hot-head Leo disobeys orders and pursues Pericles into the storm and becomes lost himself; lost in space and time it seems. After being tossed around for an undetermined amount of time Leo and his spacecraft are deposited on a plant we learn is ruled by Apes (apes, chimpanzees, baboons, and orangutans to be exact); one in which human beings are slaves and are ill treated.

After Leo’s spacecraft crash lands Leo is captured by the Apes in a human slave roundup and taken to the Apes capital city. There he meets other human that can, despite their disheveled and post Neanderthal appearance can speak English as well as the apes. This is altogether surprising given the fact they live in the forests and caves of the planet, or at least that is the inference drawn from the movie. But the question I have is how human came to be on the planet in the first place. The Apes we later learned came from Leo’s space station which perished in electrical storm and crash landed on the planet thousands of years before he did. The primates that survived the crash killed off all of the human survivors of the space station, so again where did the humans on the planet comes from and how did they come to outnumber the ape population? This is just one of the outrageous and unforgivable lapses of reason and science that festoon the script and make the movie totally implausible.

Helena Bonham Carter portrays Ari the kindly ape that for some reason thinks human should be afforded dignity, respect, and equal footing with apes and agrees to help Leo and other humans escape from Ape City. Tim Roth portrays the evil General Thade who hates human with a passion born of…well we really don’t find out what its born of, sufficed to say that he wants them all dead. Michael Clark Duncan (The Green Mile), portrays Attar, General Thade able and menacing right hand man. Estella Warren rounds out the cast of characters as Leo’s maybe love interest, whose only real function in the film was to give the male audience some eye candy to look at in a vain attempt to excuse the lack of a plot.

The only bright spot in the dismal movie was the visually complex and impressive special effects make-up artistry of Rick Baker. He pays meticulous details to the makeup in order to give the audience the sense that different species of primate have come together here. But this leads to another gaping whole in the plot, in-so-far as Leo’s space station only carried chimpanzees! Or are we to infer that the planet was inhabited before Leo’s space station came plummeting from the heavens?

As you can see the screenplay by William Broyles Jr., Lawrence Konner, and Mark Rosenthal is a disappointed mixture of bad writing, implausible plot lines, boring interludes in which nothing of substance is related, and just plain bad science. Who knew a nuclear reactor could last forever without the benefit of refueling? The truth is that your average nuclear reactor will need refueling after about 13 years of operation depending upon usage. And let’s not even talk about HOW it was working after thousands of years without the benefit of cooling water! And who knew that rocket fuel could remain stable after thousands of years; electronic equipment could last for thousands of years in the desert; and that apes could teach themselves how to read and speak English?

Devoid of it technical gee-wiz effects Planet of the Apesis quite lifeless, bland and lacking any plausible social relevance at all. I expected more from the man who brought us such masterpieces as Edward Scissorhands, James and the Giant Peach, but it appears as thought director Tim Burton sleep walked through this film.

In the end, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t make this film work, it is simply bad cinema. And while the actors did a decent job of portraying apes and angry dirty, soap challenged humans, when all was said and done the makers of this pile of dung couldn’t cover the stench of the final product with the perfume of technical wizardry. What is insulting to me is that anyone actually thought we’d think this remake of Planet of the Apes was worth our time, money, and the unrelenting assault on our olfactory nerves.


Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: None of the Above
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older

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More Planet of the Apes reviews
review by . December 12, 2010
I'll get this out of the way right now. I have not seen the original Planet of the Apes film with Charlton Heston and whatnot, so this Planet of the Apes film was the first one I ever saw, and frankly it wasn't that bad. Sure it was way too long and had some definite problems, but it was entertaining and it had some good realistic looking apes that weren't CGI.      As much as I love Johnny Depp, especially in Tim Burton's films (except one Charlie and the Chocolate …
Quick Tip by . November 16, 2010
Give this one a miss, catch the original instead - get your filthy paws off me you damn dirty ape! Packs a punch!!
review by . December 29, 2009
The Apes have lost thier intelligence....
I like Tim Burton, I love his movies but sad to say this one isn't a favorite of mine. Don't get me wrong Planet of the Apes was smart, intense, daring, refreshing and oh so much fun. But even though it has all those qualities and more it lacks the palpable suspense and ingenuity that made the original a great film(although I like this one way more than the original.) But is the new Planet of the apes bad? No way! Is it a great movie? Well it would depend on who you ask, me I say it's pretty good.   …
review by . June 16, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
This movie isn't like the 1968 classic Planet of the Apes. The plot isn't as substantive or thought-provoking. Rather, it is an action movie more along the lines of the contemporaneous The Time Machine. However, the makeup for the apes is pretty good, even after 8 years. Overall, this can be a fun movie to watch, but won't have the staying power of the classic.
review by . December 13, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
I've seen the original "Planet of the Apes" and most of its horrid sequels, but I have to admit that I really enjoyed Tim Burton's re-imagined vision of Simian supremacy. Mark Wahlberg is perfectly cast as our shining hero of homo sapiens. Helena Bonham Carter seems to be enjoying herself running around in chimp makeup. Paul Giamatti plays a rather cowardly slavetrader and who can forget Michael Clarke Duncan demanding that everyone, "Bow your head!" Tim Roth plays Thade in a rather sinister style. …
review by . January 24, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
This movie was entertaining and very different from either the original movie or the book (actually it was closer to the book). The special effects were excellent as well as the make-up and the body movements of the actors.    Charlton Heston makes an appearance as an ape and quotes verbatim one of his most famous lines from the original movie but it seems out of context.    Possible Spoiler ahead:    Not to give away the ending, but it …
review by . December 11, 2001
First off, a commendation to those responsible for dvd production. Though slightly repetitive, the two disks have all the fact's needed to be a planet-ite. I have said many times before that when something is created to display a world of its own there is no room for speculation. Unfortunately with Apes pluses come many, many minuses. Pluses: Tim Roth, completely disappearing and submerging into the dark, evil Thade, carries the entire film on his shoulder's. Applause to costume, art, make-up, stunt …
review by . August 08, 2001
Pros: Makeup has come a long way since the original.     Cons: A couple of cheesy parts     The Bottom Line: A good summertime action/adventure flick. Worth seeing on the big screen.     Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot. Being a long time fan of the old Planet of the Apes series, I knew that there was no escaping cheesy in the new one. I was not disappointed there.      I was excited …
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Vincent Martin ()
Ranked #189
I am an IT Professional and have worked in the industry for over 20 years. I may be a computer geek, but I also like reading, writing, cooking, music, current events and regretfully, politics.
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About this movie


Billed as a "reimagining" of the original 1968 film, Tim Burton's extraordinary Planet of the Apes constantly borders on greatness, adhering to the spirit of Pierre Boulle's original novel while exploring fresh and inventive ideas and paying honorable tribute to the '68 sci-fi classic. Burton's gifts for eccentric inspiration and visual ingenuity make this a movie that's as entertaining as it is provocative, beginning with Rick Baker's best-ever ape makeup (hand that man an Oscar®!), and continuing through the surprisingly nuanced performances and breathtaking production design. Add to all this an intelligent screenplay that turns Boulle's speculative reversal--the dominance of apes over humans--into a provocative study of civil rights and civil war. The film finally goes too far with a woefully misguided ending that pays weak homage to the original, but everything preceding that misfire is astonishingly right.

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. While Davidson ignites a human rebellion, this conflict is explored with admirable depth ...

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Director: Tim Burton
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Release Date: 27 July 2001 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
DVD Release Date: November 20, 2001
Runtime: 119 min
Studio: 20th Century Fox
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