Movie Review by Nigel A. Messsenger
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Tim Roth, Helena Bonham Carter
Director: Tim Burton
This is one of the most hotly anticipated releases of the year, so can it possibly live up to the hype or even it’s predecessor I ask myself as I search for a seat in a jam-packed press preview. Although I am a fan of the original series of movies it’s been quite a few years since I’ve watched them so I’m purposely trying not to recall the originals as I watch this remake.
The new film opens on a space ship with scientist Leo Davidson (Mark Wahlberg) training a chimpanzee to pilot a small space pod. Although the chimp is clearly not ready the captain in charge sends him into space on a simple mission. As the mission seems to go wrong and contact is lost Leo launches himself in a second pod to try and retrieve the chimp. His pod gets caught up in some sort of space anomaly and he crash lands on an unknown planet populated by talking apes who have evolved into a ruling race generally disliking humans and using them as slaves.
Although there are differences this remake of PLANET OF THE APES generally follows the storyline of the original with superb prosthetic makeup, high quality production standards and good acting. The only trouble is that even though the opening sequence clearly establishes that Leo’s ship is in deep space and his pod crash lands on an unknown planet, the original film is so well known that everyone knows it seems with the exception of Leo Davidson, what the twist in the plot is. Aside from this unavoidable point however director Tim Burton’s version of PLANET OF THE APES is a worthy one and will definitely re-launch a franchise that many thought had already seen its day.
Also there is one major departure from the original storyline that I will not disclose here but I will say that it is the film’s ending which not only makes up for the fact that we already know the plot twist, but sets the scene for the franchise’s future episodes to be completely different from the original series of films and follow their own future.
Finally don’t expect Tim Burton’s usual gothic trademarks because in many ways the film has the opposite feel to it. I have heard criticism of this but surely this just means that Burton is a versatile director capable of adapting to different styles that suit the story. I do wish however that he had made more use of Daena (Estelle Warren) who looks absolutely gorgeous in her primitive outfit but that’s just a personal observation. Mark Wahlberg incidentally does a good job portraying his character and doesn’t try to copy Charlton Heston.
So, at last we have the 2001 version of PLANET OF THE APES and I’m really looking forward to seeing what happens next in this new ‘Ape’ adventure. In a way the films that are surely to come will have the opportunity of playing with their time travelling theme in any way they like and as we all know – anything is possible when we change the timeline!