I am a huge fan of Planet of the Apes.
As with Star Trek and Star Wars (as discussed), I grew up with the Apes movies and they were perhaps my earliest exposure to and fascination with the end of the world. I read the book many years back now and fell in love with that too. So much so in fact (as mentioned previously) I used to perform a Planet of the Apes burlesque routine.
Despite this, I have only ever seen Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes 2001 remake once, in the cinema and never since. I have such a terrible memory for such things that I remember very little detail about the movie, however, I do know I can’t have liked it too much as I haven’t watched it again since. It is likely that as with many others, I didn’t gel with the ending, so I am interested to see if the rest of the movie stands up to scrutiny beyond that.
With Dawn of the Planet of the Apes being released this month, what better time to revisit the evolutionary dead end that was Tim Burton’s failed attempt for a live tweet review!
Let’s press play…
Scroll down for my summing up thoughts…
Here comes the 20th century fox logo….
The artwork in the opening credits is actually quite cool. I like it –
very ornate armour. The armour of choice for apes the planet over!
CHIMP IN SPACE!! Bit sad that they used real primates :*(
[NOTE in edit: I am totally opposed to the use of apes in the entertainment industry, animal testing, etc and
am particularly impressed that the new movies in the PotA franchise have taken a stand against their use!]
Ah a video from home.
Shows people love him and gives a little exposition (I hate that kinda shit)
Space storm coming towards a space station full of experimental primate astronauts.
I can see this will end well…
Marky Mark is going after his chimp friend. I see where this is going.
He is obviously one of those “plays by his own rules” kinda guys
“Never send a monkey to do a man’s job!” IT IS AN APE.
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAPPPEE, AS IN PLANET OF THE!!!
Marky Mark has the luck of the gods – crash lands in a dense forest,
manages to not splat into a single tree.
First glimpse of the Apes.
Nice use of the trees – having them move a lot more as apes would
Quite reminiscent of the hunt scene in the original film.
Though these apes a lot more sinister looking!
I should admit right now I can’t stand Helena Bonham Carter
though I’ve heard she’s good in this
The humans talk? Did he just talk. Do they talk in this?
The ape makeup is amazing!
The ape behaviour/movements are also superb!
I don’t quite get the context in terms of setting.
It seems advanced & they spout human rights, but seems feudal in culture
Simultaneously advanced and primitive at the same time.
Something between the book and the original movies
Not too sure about humans being able to talk.
I guess it makes sense in this film.
After all chimp HBC obviously fancies Marky Mark
– inter-species love is all the rage
FINALLY!!! Someone correct Marky Mark –
they are apes not monkeys!!
Sorcery versus science. I am troubled by the confused level of civilisation –
is it advanced or primitive.
According to Marky Mark apes in his time are few…
so they use the last few as experimental astronauts? Officially on the side of the apes
Oh, there is some sort of business between those gorillas!
Wonder if that is leading somewhere?!
Interesting, an ancient space ship.
I think we can see where this is going…
This is actually a really awesome premise – apes evolved from the ship apes,
the humans thinking of Marky Mark as a saviour.
Blergh. HBC’s Ari being jealous over Marky Mark is sickly :$
Yup. Tim Roth is definitely the star of this film!
Marky Mark – not all that great at the inspirational speeches
not sure if it is the script or delivery, but… meh!
I do hate that plucky child. He’s gonna get someone killed!
Well that seemed pointless – should have left plucky child to his fate!!
would serve him right!!
Is it supposed to say something that in this battle,
both the apes and the humans are equally brutal?
The inevitable gorilla showdown!
With an inevitable conclusion 😦
A spaceship to save the day!
Shame actually –
I was looking forward to Thade taking Marky Mark’s head off
Pericles to the rescue!! And he shall be worshiped as a god.
AS A GOD!!!
Thade is from bad stock.
One word from Marky Mark and Attar is completely convinced. Persuasive!
Aww, they broke Thade. Sad times 😦
Attar’s stance on human/ape co-existence –
biggest turn around in history!!
I wonder if that chimp got really confused being surrounded by actors in ape makeup
And he’s off. Back to space and hopefully home. Which makes little sense.
He could build a life there, but whatever
What is with the little time counter?
That makes no sense – so did he know he was moving in time as well as space?
That was a super quick journey
And now the infamous ending. APE LINCOLN!!!
Ok, just had to rewind the ending. So it’s not Ape Lincoln. It’s general Thade.
Well… that makes even less sense than I thought!
Over all, I enjoyed it.
But there were a few glaring weaknesses which
I think account for the film being so weak over all.
Main problems were – Marky Mark’s 2D character
and the lack of consistency in where and when this was set in ape timeline.
As a brainless popcorn movie romp, this is entertaining enough. In fact I enjoyed exploring a different side to the ape civilisation than we have seen in any other movie incarnations. The original movie, whilst awesome, doesn’t explore ape society much beyond their hierarchy (which differs in Burton’s version) and treatment of humans. So being able to watch how they interact within their culture – polite dinners and even bedroom liaisons, is quite interesting.
That said, for me the biggest weakness of the movie was that the ape civilisation was jarring. The armour and social structure would perhaps put them at an equivalent to Medieval periods, whilst their weaponry appears firmly stuck in prehistory. Whilst it seemed obvious that the reason for this appeared to be making guns a human thing and a signifyer within the movie as such, it felt like a misstep. On top of this, the inclusion of apes caring about human rights feels ever so advanced and enlightened for a time when culturally their human equivalents wouldn’t really be even bothering with their own rights.
This makes it hard to understand the structure of ape civilisation, and even when you discover their origins – as descendants of those in the space craft, this does nothing to resolve the mismatched evolution of this society.
Another weakness was Mark Wahlberg’s two-dimensional character. Other than the tedious attempt at the very beginning to make him seem like a real person – his video from home, he was little more than a few tropes wound around an objective. The objective was to get home, despite the fact that we as an audience had no idea what his motivation behind that was. We know what he wanted to do but not why. We could assume it’s just because everyone wants to go home. But with only a shoehorned video from friends to go on, I couldn’t understand why the character would rather return home than help this new combined civilisation unfold. For an astronaut he isn’t keen on a big adventure is he?
And it isn’t just his character. Thade is pretty well fleshed out in some ways but not in others – what is his motivation beyond his family being descended from an evil chimp? We know nothing of Attar at all, including the reason behind his deep friendship with Thade (which means very little in the end as it turns out). Running on from that we know even less about Krull other than a brief conversation a few scenes before his death, that he and Attar are enemies. The humans on the whole are just there to look pretty. The one and only character who seems properly fleshed out with background, motivations, ideology and agency is Ari. In fact you might be easily convinced of her as the lead role.
Of course, I must also discuss the ending. Whilst not the biggest weakness of the film necessarily, it does have the effect of totally gutting the preceding 2 hours. When I first watched the movie I do remember that it was a jarring ending, but that was perhaps a year or two before I read the novel, to which it is a much closer fit on the one hand. As such, I approached it this time with that in mind, but no, it is still a failure. Although it mirrors the novel in that landmarks appear to be the same but the land is ruled by apes rather than men, it gives no care to the fact that this also makes little sense in the novel. More so, in the context of this movie, it definitely makes little sense to the events leading up to it. How and why would apes be in earth’s past?
But of course, they aren’t and that’s what makes this odder still. This is the ape’s future. A future which for some reason completely parallels human civilisation – right down to the exact same layout of the Lincoln Memorial, Reflecting Pool and Washington Monument. Not only that, but this is no ape version of Lincoln, it is in fact Thade. As noted in the monument inscription – Thade is memoralised for having saved the planet of the apes.
What is the implication of this? That without Marky Mark staying to help build the future, Thade was able to rise to power once more and finally create a true Planet of the Apes for he and his kin? Perhaps. All I know is, that’s a lot of thinking to fit into the last few seconds of a 2 hour movie. As many have said before – perhaps it would have worked better to end the movie with the launching space ship and leave the rest to our imaginations.
Despite these weaknesses, the film itself is enjoyable and the twist in the premise, differing from both the novel and the original movie, that the apes were in fact descended from those in the spaceship, is clever and intriguing. It feels like this could have been given more time, but is definitely one of the highlights of the movie.
The acting for the most part is great even if the script at times isn’t. By far and away Tim Roth excels in this movie, and he is the only one who is believably ape throughout the entire movie. The ape costumes and makeup are stunning, and the movements and behaviour from all, but especially Roth, are pretty fantastic. The sparing inclusion of references to the original movie – including the casting of Charlton Heston in perhaps his finest ever role (seriously, I think that’s the best acting I’ve ever seen from him) – were really well done. Great timing and well delivered – it felt like an homage rather than a knowing aside.
All in all, it’s a real shame that this movie doesn’t live up to the sum of its parts, because the bits that are good, are amazing (Roth, Heston, the descendant premise). My tip would be to watch this movie without too many expectations. And make sure you switch off as soon as Marky Mark is back up in space!