Reverse evolution if you will and place humans at the mercy of some ruthless apes....
`Planet of the Apes`
Plot: In the not-too-distant future, US Captain Leo Davidson (Mark Wahlberg) ventures out of his spaceship and crash lands on an unknown planet where the humans are lorded over by apes. He is captured and sold as a slave, but thanks to the sympathetic ape Ari (Helena Bonham Carter), he is able to set off with a bunch of fellow humans in search of escape. In their pursuit is Thade (Tim Roth), a terrifying ape that believes all humans must be exterminated. How did the apes get to be this way? Where exactly is Leo? Why is his ship not responding to his distress calls? These are the issues answered in the rest of the film.
It`s a good thing that 20th Century Fox is advertising this remake as `A Tim Burton Film`, for one would never guess that by merely watching the movie. From `Pee Wee`s Big Adventure` to `Sleepy Hollow`, no Burton film can ever be mistaken for the work of someone else. Right from the ghoulish atmosphere to the extreme glee taken with destroying almost every convention held sacred by the guardians of mindless middlebrow cinema, director Burton`s work has always been something you couldn`t quite take your eyes away from, even if the film itself was a car wreck of `Mars Attacks` proportions. All good things, however, have to end and with `Planet of the Apes`; he makes his first foray into Utterly Generic Action Adventure. One hopes that this is just some macabre, Tim Burtonian prank he`s playing and that he`ll be back with his next film.
But for now, we only have this startlingly unimaginative (and rather unnecessary) `reimagining` of the Charlton Heston sci-fi classic. True to the conventions of today`s films, the action starts with scene one and does not stop till the end. Goodbye to any throwaway scenes that capture some interesting character quirk. God forbid anyone actually say something sensible and attempt some sort of intelligent dialogue worthy of the film`s sci-fi setting! And perish the thought that an attempt be made to distinguish this film from the countless ilk that come under the sci-fi category. (Even the critically lambasted `Mission to Mars` had a better sense of style in its storytelling.)
The only, and I emphasise `only`, worthwhile aspect of the film (and the only one that justifies the very existence of this remake) is the astounding makeup by Rick Baker. The simian faces have been modelled after the actors` own, and if Tim Roth or Helena Bonham Carter are going to be apes in their next life, then you are certain that this is how they will look. Remarkably, this makeup does not come in the way of these two actually delivering a performance, and Roth and Carter come off best in the cast. Not so the humans, who alas, have nothing to help them perform, least of all a dud of a script that actually thinks that showing the apes do `human` tricks (Look, there`s an ape removing his dentures! See that ape take off his wig!) is actually funny! Or maybe the script is terrific in that they were trying for some deliberate camp classic and I just wasn`t clued in to the joke. But it must be said that Wahlberg and co. deliver extremely energetic performances as they are always on the run.
The photography is by the great French cinematographer, Philippe Rousselot, but there`s nothing on screen that we haven`t seen a thousand times before in lesser films like `Congo`. Even Burton`s reliable partner-in-dysfunction, composer Danny Elfman, delivers a score that starts off promisingly during the credits as an interesting variation on standard ooga-booga themes but then quickly becomes very formulaic action-adventure fare. And you`ll simply cringe at the attempts at social relevance (slaves vs. masters, all creatures are equal etc.) that keep popping up and, in the context of this film, merely impede the action. You may think I`m complaining a bit much, but the people who made this film have set extremely high standards and their work here falls far short of their previous accomplishments.
Anyone who`s seen the original knows that a twist is in store at the end, but while the denouement of the earlier film stunned us, here it seems a stunt. They just had to have a twist ending and so here it is.
One would not mind so much if this venture was "just a movie" (though you may say it still is), some popcorn entertainment created solely to make big bucks with no pretence of artistry. But this is a film made by a top-notch team, and they are revisioning a top-notch predecessor. That they could not do anything of note with all the technology, talent and money at their disposal is just a darned shame.
This review was written by Baradwaj Rangan. If you have any comments on this review, post a message on our message boards or write to email@example.com