Friday, August 17, 2001

Planet of the Apes

Year: 2001
Dir: Tim Burton
Screeplay: William Broyles Jr., Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal

Stars: MARK WAHLBERG, Tim Roth, Michael Clarke Duncan, Paul Giamatti, Kris Kristofferson, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Helena Bonham-Carter, Anne Ramsay, Estella Warren.

In the time before time there was a film that made history, which launched a generation of spin-offs and sequels, which decades later still hold our fascination, with their nostalgic appeal. Tim Burton’s latest offering sends us back to the cinema for another dose of “The Planet of the Apes”.

The words ‘Tim Burton’ and ‘vision’ are usually synonymous but for some rather explicable reasons, this time around, visionary is not the word best used to describe this film! Burton’s own take on the much-loved 1968 ground breaking movie fails to deliver all the promise so blatantly waved in our faces by the trailers and previews.

The Planet of the Apes has one saving grace in the shape of Tim Roth’s devilishly menacing portrayal of ‘General Thade’. A role he delivers with a deliciously terrifying fervour.

Unfortunately, the bad far outweighs the good in this version of the story. I was left beating my chest and asking ‘why wasn’t this film better?’ All the potential was there. It should have been better, the budget says it should have been, the cast says it should have been. To add insult, Charlton Heston’s cameo as Zaius only compliments the already faltering script.

The first half hour is the usual sci-fi fare, but as soon as Cap. Leo Davidson (Mark Wahlberg) hits the water you can feel the ship sinking. The Ape city and the interiors of the dwellings were filmed on a soundstage and, surprisingly they look it. Perhaps this is too harsh as the film is not a total loss.

Even the bang up-to-date Ape make-up appears more prosthetic and latex than legitimate, General Thade being one of the few exceptions. Not so bad for Ari (Helena Bonham-Carter) then, as this may prove to be a film unworthy of showing your face in.

As for the much teased battle scenes? They are very good, but not enough. Although the terror factor exists, the predictability does too, so the film leaves you less than satisfied. Statue of Liberty or no Statue of Liberty, it is worth a shot for the novelty factor alone.

And although disappointing, the gates are left wide open at the finale, for what promises to be a sequel, which should blow its predecessor out of the water.

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