Planet of the Apes (2001)


Dave’s 3-Word Review:
I’m sorry, what?

This film was selected from ‘The 250’

If you know me, you probably know me well enough that I actually enjoy when remakes take liberties with their craft. In fact, most of the time I want them to, and as much as humanly possible. That being said, I just watched the entire Planet of the Apes classic series, and was ready and gearing to see what they did in the remake. Now, I don’t like to compare, but I think it’s kind of inescapable for this one. However, I promise that I will attempt to rate this film fairly as if it’s the only one of its kind.

We got Mark Wahlberg, Marky Mark, in our Charlton Heston-type role this time around. He’s on some kind of space-exploration program with some chimpanzees when the team runs into an electric storm of some kind. To check it out, our man, Leo Davidson (Wahlberg) flies a mini spacecraft into the storm, sending him into the future and onto a strange new land where apes rule the world, can speak, and enslave humans. So far so good. Well, in this version, humans can actually speak, and soon Leo and a group of both humans and ape alike escape the city in search for his space craft in the forbidden zone. Meanwhile, there are evil forces at work attempting to stop him before he finds out too much about the apes and their true heritage.

There are definitely elements in this film that correlate to the original film, but those are mostly in the first ten to fifteen minutes. The rest is completely original…and I’m not entirely sure if that’s a good thing or bad. Obviously the biggest change was in the beginning when we learn that all humans can think and speak for themselves. In the original series, they were the apes and the apes were the human in a complete role-reversal scenario. Not only were they able to convey messages of animal cruelty and the evolutionary chain in a whole new way, it was also just a grasping concept all around. I’m trying my hardest not to complain about how they did it here, because it’s confusing. I’m trying to find out what sets apart Mark Wahlberg’s character other than the fact that he’s an astronaut and I’m getting nothing. He’s just another human.

I can’t go without praising some of the costumes. Like the original series, all of the apes were actually actors in make-up and costumes, but this time the apes actually looked a lot more like apes than rubber costumes. Not only that, but their mouths actually moved at the appropriate times making it automatically look a lot cooler and a lot more authentic. I had a big issue with that in the original series, and I like the apes in this more…naturally. However, some of the make-up and costumes for other characters, while done well, didn’t look like apes. For the most part they looked like human/ape hybrids. As far as what they looked like as a whole, it was pretty darn good.

Now, onto Mark Wahlberg. We all know his acting style, so I don’t think anyone will be super surprised when I say his acting isn’t horrible but isn’t great either. Then again, if I were comparing, it would be loads better than Charlton Heston’s melodramatic monologues. I think he does a substantial-enough job, and holds the film together enough. But what I need to talk about is the big picture.

As a film-watcher, you are probably thinking in general, the original Planet of the Apes is simply more memorable than the newer one. I don’t think the first had a very good production, it had poor quality acting, cheap choreography, bad costumes…but the concept was absolutely brilliant on all sides of the spectrum, and how they dealt with it on a storytelling perspective is unforgettable. When we talk about the newer film…you will remember the apes and Mark Wahlberg, yeah, but the story is really forgettable. It’s got a solid plot, but there’s nothing remotely interesting about it. Had I watched this first, I would have regretted it. It would have spoiled the twist of the original film in a tasteless manner. As a movie on its own, I’ve seen worse. It has some basic sci-fi stuff that’s pretty decent, but you might just end up saying “meh” regardless. Heck. It might even make you want to stay away from the classic series, and not in a good way, in a ruining your taste in the series way.

The Good:

It’s got some spirit throughout the film, I must admit. It tried to be its own thing, which I find very commendable, and it clearly had the best production thus far in the series (not including the 2011 film). The make-up for the apes was kind of insane in a really good way, and the hidden allusions to the classic series were pretty nice.

The Bad:

People are going to have an impossible time not comparing this to the original source. There is just too much they changed, and not in a good way either. Also, if watched before the classic series, some things are ruined in a distasteful manner. In short, it’s got better actors, better acting, better production value, better technical everything, but god it has a lackluster story.


One thought on “Planet of the Apes (2001)

  1. I didn’t hate it, but it is terribly goofy and campy. Almost too much so. Then again, it is Tim Burton so I can’t say I was all that surprised to begin with. Good review Dave.


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