out of 4
All-Reviews.com Movie/Video Review
Planet of the Apes
Review by Susan Granger
2 stars out of 4
In Tim Burton's re-envisioning of Pierre Boulle's novel which became a
1968 cult classic, the sci-fi premise remains the same: an astronaut (Mark
Wahlberg) crash-lands on a bizarre, brutal world where apes are the dominant
species and humans serve them. When captured, he's taken to the misty mountain
kingdom of Ape City by the orangutan slave trader (Paul Giamatti). He meets
defiant human rebels (Kris Kristofferson, Estella Warren) and discovers the
socio-political conflict between the tyrannical General (Tim Roth) and his
intimidating aide (Michael Clarke Duncan) and a passionate, liberal Senator's
daughter (Helena Bonham Carter) who believes humans should not be subjugated by
simians. Tim Burton's iconoclastic vision of this fascistic,
chimpanzee-dominated society is brought to life primarily by six-time
Oscar-winning make-up artist Rick Baker ("Gorillas in the Mist," "Mighty Joe
Young") who, incredibly, in a tour-de-force, transforms the actors into apes.
Credit production designer Rick Heinrichs and cinematographer Philippe Rousselot
too. Unlike the original, in William Broyles Jr.'s rather dull screenplay, the
humans are not mute and, despite the rumors, there's no inter-species sex.
Clunky Mark Wahlberg is hardly a heroic figure, as Charlton Heston was in the
original. But Heston does turn up as an aged, ailing ape, and once again, in a
quite different context, utters his famous line: "Damn them all to hell!" But,
basically, Paul Giamatti steals the picture, offering much needed comic relief.
The conclusion, while not the Statue of Liberty, offers a surprising, if very
contrived, twist. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Planet of the Apes" is
a dark, primal, action-packed 5, proving "The smarter we become, the more
dangerous we get."
Copyright © 2001 Susan Granger
Buy movie posters!