|TIM BURTON||SEQUELS||POTA STUFF||REVIEWS||SCIENCE MOMENT||SCARY TOP 10||UNFAIR RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT|
Normally I insist on good science in my science fiction and raise holy hell when they don't provide it. There have, however, been a few movies where the science absolutely sucked but I liked it anyway. Okay, actually there are only two: Star Wars and the original PLANET OF THE APES (given everything from oak trees to English-speaking Chimpanzees, Heston should have known where he was long before Lady Liberty came around the corner).
Having made an exception for the original I was prepared to cut a similar amount of slack for the re-make (excuse me, the "re-imagining"). Is that enough to make this a good movie?
PLANET OF THE APES (2001) was directed by Tim Burton (EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, MARS ATTACKS!, SLEEPY HOLLOW) and written by William Broyles, Jr. (ENTRAPMENT), Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal (co-writers of MERCURY RISING, SOMETIMES THEY COME BACK).
The story opens on board a United States Air Force space station in the year 2029. Standard issue "hot pilot who doesn't play by the rules" Leo Davidson (Mark Wahlberg: FEAR) is training a chimpanzee to pilot a very small space capsule. Training these genetically enhanced smart chimps (I wonder where that subplot will lead?) to be pilots seems to be the major activity of this station, much to the chagrin of Leo. He wants to fly the thing himself, damn it! But his by-the-book commanding officer won't let him. Of course NASA hasn't launched a chimp into space for 30 years but we'll set that aside.
The crew is studying a "space storm"” near the station, which I assume is why the station is there although that's not made clear. The storm appears periodically and the station commander orders the launch of a chimp-piloted capsule to explore this magical plot device. When his chimp buddy is lost Leo takes this opportunity to disobey a direct order and head out in his own capsule to rescue his simian friend. The storm apparently sends him both across the galaxy to another world and into the far future. He crashes into a small lake deep in the jungle and barely survives.
Before he has a chance to wring out his shirt he's caught up in a group of humans fleeing through the jungle. These people are dressed in rags and animal skins and are clearly terrified. They are being chased, of course, by the ape military, led by General Thade (Tim Roth: RESEVOIR DOGS, PULP FICTION) and his right hand ape Attar (Michael Clarke Duncan: THE GREEN MILE). Leo ends up in a cage on his way to becoming a slave in Ape City.
This all happens very fast. There's almost no dialogue and the cinematography will leave you dizzy. The pace reminded me a lot of THE MUMMY RETURNS. Now I like a minimum of exposition but c'mon! You have no time to care about any of these characters. The result is they all become mildly interesting caricatures with no depth at all.
There's an "animal" rights sub-plot lead by Ari (Helena Bonham Carter: FIGHT CLUB, FRANKENSTEIN ), daughter of a senator and determined that humans be treated as equals. There's also a story element I must point out that was lacking in the original: it is a fact that even the wimpiest chimpanzee is quite a bit stronger than an adult human male. And a gorilla is many times stronger still. This is made clear in many scenes where even a muscular man like the underused Karubi (Kris Kristofferson: BLADE, BLADE II, ROLLOVER) tries his best to fight back but is helpless against ape strength.
And my review wouldn’t be complete without a
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