Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes review
Captain Leo Davidson (Mark Whalberg) is on a spaceship training apes to fly in space when his chimpanzee friend gets lost in an electrical storm in space. He flies in to save him, ending up on, you guessed it, a planet where a different variety of apes are the dominant species. Though in this world, the ape daughter of the governor Ari (Helena Bonham Carter) doesn't approve of the treatment of the humans so when Davidson and several other humans make an escape and plans to head to the Calima to get some answers. He is joined by Ari, her bodyguard Krull (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) and an orangutan human slave trader named Limbo (Paul Giamatti) and a bunch of humans played by people who can't act. Who do we have for antagonists int his film you ask? General Thade (Tim Roth), Colonel Attar (Michael Clarke Duncan) and even Thade's father for a brief minute as he talks about guns (and who is he played by? None other than Charlton Heston! Even getting able to say "Damn them all to hell"). Anyway, we get some stuff that doesn't make a lick of sense, a battle with ape and man and then it's topped off with the most confusing ending for a movie.
You know, after seeing 5 Planet of the Apes films; this film feels like a breath of fresh air to see something that doesn't look cheap. Unfortunately, from all the negative remarks made about this film, even complimenting this film is a sin.
So I guess before we discuss the negative, let's at least look at the positives because if I write a review with nothing but negativity, that'll be a rant and those aren't worth wasting everyone's time.
1. Makeup. As I said before, the makeup for the original Ape movies were cheap to make and easy to take on an off but it didn't give actors much room for facial expressions like smiling (unless makeup crew applied that mouth on). So who does Tim Burton hire? 5 time Academy Award-winning makeup artist Rick Baker! The guy recently won an Oscar for the 2010 remake of The Wolfman so applying creature makeup is his specialty. The makeup for the apes here looks a lot more realistic than it did in the last 5 films lately. Although it took longer for the makeup in this film to be applied, it allowed the actors to express their facial expressions more and this works especially well for Tim Roth.
2. Music. Danny Elfman is a great musician and he makes great movie soundtracks. From "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure" to "Beatlejuice" to "Batman", he and Tim Burton work well together. For this film in particular, Elfman had the difficulty to try to recreate Jerry Goldsmith's signature music from the original film. To be honest, he does a really good job at it. There are certain music moments where you can tell it's Elfman's style (if you're heard many musical compositions by Elfman, you can spot it out easily) but the music is still really good.
3. Production Value. The last few films were plain-out cheap. Even though this film doesn't really look too much like Burton's usual style of the surreal, it still looks a lot more impressive, adding different varieties of the landscape from jungle areas to rocky deserts. It still looks good though and it adds a large sense of the vast size of this planet of the apes that I never felt before in the previous films.
With that, let's get into what I dislike about the film
1. Acting. That's not to say I didn't like TIm Roth and Paul Giamatti; I thought for what they had to work with, they did very well, being expressive and being intimidating (Roth) and humorous (Giamatti). But I really don't like the casting for everyone else. Whalberg, as usual, is bland and he's incredibly bland and really aimless here. In fact, his role was supposed to go to Matt Damon, a much better actor than him in comparison in my opinion. Carter is a bore who looks hideous with that makeup on. The human characters themselves are just cardboard cutouts. Again, this a problem with the casting; these are terrible actors and I highly doubt many of them even saw the original (why should I say that? See the casting of the 1998 "Psycho" for reference)
2. The story. The story is poor and really aimless. It feels like it gives away the answers too soon. This was a problem the original never had because the screenplay was handled by Rod Serling, the greatest suspense writer of the 20th century (in my opinion) and his work on The Twilight Zone really showcases his amazing writing and how he can build the suspense for the twist for the end. Not in this film, it can't seem to figure out if it's trying to be an adaptation of the novel or a remake of the original film.
3. The Twist. I don't want to spoil it but let me tell ya, it makes absolutely no sense.
So yeah, that's all I really have to say about this remake. It's not the worst film in the whole wide world but I can say it's the worst remake to ever be conceived. It's even more tragic that Burton didn't learn his lesson with his films "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "Alice in Wonderland". But still, I have to say that on a technical level, it looks really good. But it failed where even I complain about a film the most that a lot of people seem to give so little thought about. Is this film bad? Yeah, it's confusing but it's worth a watch if you want to see an example of bad screenwriting.
My Rating: It works technically but it fails on a whole.
Well, That's it. Thank God! But it all comes down to the new one that's come out recently. Will it succeed where Tim Burton failed or will it make the same sins? Stay tuned to find out in my review for "Rise of the Planet of the Apes".