Planet of the Apes [2001]

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CONTAINS SPOILERS

You’ll be sorry you were ever born human

Directed by Tim Burton

Reviewed by Deep Red

Aka El planeta de los simios

So, to the 2001 Tim Burton remake/reimagining of Planet of the Apes. What was this all about? Not a big Tim Burton fan I’m afraid. However, big director, big cast, state-of-the-art effects (over a decade ago) and everybody’s favourite simians back on the big screen. Must be good?

Well, this one doesn’t take place on Earth but on Ashtar (two moons). Mark Wahlberg stars as Captain Leo Davidson who’s working aboard the United States Air Force Space Research Station Oberon with Pericles the chimpanzee played by Jonah. Leo follows Pericles into an electromagnetic storm when the chimp’s pod disappears. Leo’s own pod enters a wormhole and crashes on the planet Ashtar in the distant future. He soon discovers the apes rule it and the humans are slaves. The humans can talk in this one unlike in the original. Leo and fellow human Daena (Estella Warren) are sold by Limbo (Paul Giamatti), an orangutan slave-trader, to friendly chimpanzee Ari (Helena Bonham Carter). He also meets nasty chimpanzee General Thade (Tim Roth) and gorilla Attar (Michael Clarke Duncan) who are less than friendly:

“Take your stinking hands off me, you damn dirty human.”

Leo and Daena are brought to Ari’s father’s house to work as servants; Ari’s father is Senator Sandar (David Warner). They and some other humans manage to escape aided by Ari and gorilla Krull (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa); Daena’s father Karubi (Kris Kristofferson) is killed by the evil Thade. The small band of escapees reach Calima, a sacred place for apes, and there are certain revelations that I don’t want to go into, spoilers. Thade and his army launch an assault on the humans now gathered at Calima and a huge battle ensues….

The film looks fantastic, the space station scenes, the planet Ashtar, the effects, the costumes, all faultless. The acting is also very, very good, with and without ape makeup, and the makeup itself is superb and more than adequately convincing, the last ape makeup I suppose now CGI has taken over. Whatever Tim Burton himself thought of the film, he reportedly said he’d rather jump out of a window than do a sequel, nice, I think this film is massively underrated. It’s a visual treat, it has great characters, human and ape, if anything it’s a shame there was no sequel. Charlton Heston gets a small role as Thade’s father Zaius (a familiar name for ‘Apes’ fans) and echoes one famous line from Planet of the Apes [1968] when he says:

“Damn them. Damn them all to hell.”

The ending, which I’m not going into, again spoilers, is apparently quite controversial but I like it. Does it make sense? Well, yeah, in a way, it would’ve all been explained in the sequel that never happened apparently. I still think it’s a cool ending but then I never think too deeply about these things, it’s all good fun, that’s all. There’s a lot of difference between this and the original film(s), it’s a different take on the story and doesn’t work particularly well as a remake, although much of the imagery has a familiarity about it, but it does work as its own film. Is it as good as the original? You can’t seriously compare the two, they’re very different films. This ticked all the right boxes for me and I really enjoyed it, on Blu-ray it really comes to life with spectacular clarity. Enjoy it. Great film.