In which Gerry Hayes dons a ‘Trading Places’ ape-suit and prepares for some musky monkey-loving.
Planet Of The Apes, 2001.
Directed by Tim Burton.
Starring Mark Wahlberg, Tim Roth, Helena Bonham Carter, Paul Giamatti, Michael Clarke Duncan and Estella Warren.
Special make-up and effects by Rick Baker.
Relax, nerds, it’s the remake. Take a puff on your inhalers and chill out. It’s ok to poke fun at this one because it’s awful.
What passes for a plot goes as follows. Marky Mark is rugged space-adventurer, Leo Davidson. Well, I say ‘space-adventurer’, he’s really more of a zoo-keeper who just happens to be on a space station. He takes care of the monkeys (if he can call them monkeys in the film, I can happily ignore the fact that they’re chimps). For some, inexplicable, reason, when a swirly space-anomaly appears, it’s necessary to send a space-pod that’s actually piloted by a chimp. Technology doesn’t seem to have progressed to any form of automated or remotely-controlled flight – nah, the chimp’ll fly it.
When the chimp disappears into the swirly thing, Leo, ruggedly and adventurously, jumps into another of the chimp-pods and flies out to get him. But, horror of horrors, he disappears too (if only there’d been some clue). The swirly thing turns out to be some sort of wormhole-type affair and, unlike the original, it carries him through time and space to that Terrible Planet Of The Apes where, true to it’s name Leo encounters a number of grumpy simians.
In particular, Tim Roth, slathered in bacon, is actually quite enjoyable as the eeeviilll, career-soldier-chimp, Thade. He just has to snarl and shout a lot and it’s about the only bit of this film that I didn’t hate.
Bonham Carter gets monkeyed-up to play Ari, a wishy-washy liberal with crazy notions of human-rights (see what they did there – they’ve twisted it, you see?). Here, on the Terrible Planet Of The Apes, humans, despite being mostly buxom and beautiful, live wild in the jungles or are kept as slaves or pets.
Ari helps to free Leo and one of the aforementioned buxom, beautiful, savage humans – Estella Warren as Daena – from the awful clutches of the slave trader orang-utan, Limbo (Paul Giamatti). Awful clutches may be overstating things though as he seems to exist purely for buffoonery and cowardly comic-relief. He provides the former admirably.
So they escape, Leo becomes some sort of messiah and garners a woeful-looking mob of human freedom-fighters, all eager to have their heads bashed in in a final showdown between man and ape (and between Leo and Thade).
It’s all incredibly ridiculous in getting to this point and it’s all monstrously ridiculous during this point – especially the pan troglodytes ex machina that occurs. I won’t even touch on the ending which, even if you haven’t seen the film, you’ll likely have heard about.
Peppered through the film are in-jokes and references to the original. While I’ve no doubt that these were inserted to ‘honour’ the original in some way, for me, all they did was to highlight how the remake paled before what was, by comparison, a much better film. Being honest too, Charlton Heston’s small role in the remake annoyed me and I kept hearing ‘from my cold, dead hands’ all through that scene (possibly I’m betraying my own wishy-washy, liberal leanings now – perhaps Bonham Carter and I could have something).
Finally to Burton. I was originally quite excited to hear that he was remaking this. It seems, however, to have turned out as the least Burton-like film he’s made. The posters and DVD covers portray more of a Burtonesque atmosphere than the film actually contains. It’s usually easy to pick out one of his films – it would be much more difficult to identify this as his work without prior knowledge.
Nope, what this is, is a summer blockbuster – with all of the negative baggage that comes with that term. Apart from the astonishingly brilliant monkey make-up by the very talented Rick Baker (think of any brilliant example of the same and he’s probably done it), this is a hollow shell of a film with very little of import to say for itself.
Read more I Sat Through That? right here.
Gerry Hayes is a garret-dwelling writer subsisting on tea, beer and Flame-Grilled Steak flavour McCoy’s crisps. You can read about other stuff he doesn’t like on his blog at http://stareintospace.com or you can have easy, bite-sized bits of him at http://twitter.com/gerryhayes