Is it really hard to believe that Planet of the Apes has been remade. The 1968 original starring Charlton Heston has epic science fiction written all over it, and in the 21st century, where movie companies at least believe that there is no original content to be made, remakes are running rampant. Sure, this newest version of Planet of the Apes is a little superfluous, but who better to remake a science fiction classic than Tim Burton, who already has Batman and Sleepy Hollow under his control?
I went into Planet of the Apes not expecting too much. It is not that I wasn't excited to see Burton's take on the movie, but I was beginning to realize that this movie might not be too good. I mean, it's a remake of an already well told story, and it's coming out in the summer that has possessed some of the worst summer films of all times. The only glimmer of hope that I held onto was the fact that Tim Burton was directing, and that he manages to time and time again deliver good movies.
And thankfully, that glimmer of hope expanded into a bright light. Burton's Planet of the Apes is one of the best movies I have seen this summer. It has a good script, some good (if not straightforward) politics, and some good action scenes. The movie is entertaining from beginning to end, and the visuals are amazing.
Wahlberg stars as an astronaut, who, after being caught in an electromagnetic storm, crashes onto a planet inhabited by apes. He, of course, being a soldier, is not going to allow these apes to treat him like a slave, so he starts his own little rebellion, even if he is just trying to get home. What ensues is a large revolt against the oppressors.
I am a big fan of Mark Wahlberg. He delivered an amazing performance in Three Kings. In Planet of the Apes he delivers a performance about equal to that in The Perfect Storm, which means he does a good job considering that the movie he is starring in is still basically a popcorn flick. He is joined by Helena Bonham Carter, who is completely unidentifiable under her makeup, and who starts out pretty poorly in the beginning of the film but finally earns the respect of the audience near the end.
I'm not giving too much away when I say that it is true that romantic sparks fly between Wahlberg and Carter, despite them being of different species, but luckily Burton is able to keep the cheesiness to the minimum. Burton is obviously sending a message here, but at the same time he knew that the audience could only handle so much, and he really didn't take into account that Wahlberg would probably be appalled by talking apes for years.
My biggest complaint of the movie is aimed at the lack of use of beautiful Estella Warren, who serves merely as eye candy. Dressed in loose shreds of clothe, she acts as nothing more than a sexy cave girl, and where she could have served up some interesting chemistry between Wahlberg, not to mention a good speaking part, she seems to have about as many lines of dialogue in the movie as Wahlberg's pet chimp.
The movie is exciting, political, but if people are being drawn to Planet of the Apes for one thing, it is the apes. The talking apes in the movie are incredibly real, and I would not be surprised in the least if this one takes home an Oscar for Best Makeup. Very little computer effects were used for the apes, as far as I know, and Burton has done a wonderful job of serving up a variety of primates, from orangutans to gorillas. The only weak effects lie in a single ape child near the beginning of the film.
Some might find the climax of the film a little unrealistic, but it's probably the best that Burton could do considering time restraints. As for the very last shot in the movie, I found it incredibly cheesy and annoying, and I can only consider it as bad homage to the classic moment where Heston finds the Statue of Liberty.
Planet of the Apes is one of the best movies to come out this summer, one of the few letdowns over the last couple of months. Tim Burton has yanked out another exciting film. This Planet of the Apes doesn't quite match the original, but it does come a lot closer than expected.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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