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Planet of the Apes movie review
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Planet of the ApesTim Burton creates a new version of the classic SF story.
In the trailer for Planet of the Apes, we witness one of the coolest lines of movie history (well I think so anyway). In a raw, terrifying, intimidating and thoroughly chilling voice, evil military monkey and villain of the film, Thade (Tim Roth) roars at the camera "Get me the Spaceman!". From this line alone I was wetting myself in anticipation for Tim Burton's re-imagining of the 1968 classic Planet of the Apes.
Movie Poster, Planet of the Apes
||Talking, leaping, growling, super-cool looking, hissing, megalomaniacal apes spitting out corny and thoroughly brilliant dialogue whilst screaming into a tremendous battle of man verse his oldest ancestor was what this movie promised, but you know what? We don't even get that line.|
The whole movie I waited for that line. I waited for "Get me the spaceman!" And yet the most ferocious phrase they gave me was "Kill them all..." and it was a slight aside. And this pretty much sums up Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes - one major disappointment, and one that leaves the bitterest of aftertastes. Not only did they fail to deliver the line, they failed to produce even the slight tension and breathtaking excitement suggested by the trailer. It failed me, and I felt the whole audience, on a whole range of levels. That being said, it succeeded brilliantly on many others.
And it is here that Planet of the Apes becomes so frighteningly difficult to review. It is so mixed, so flawed and so good in so many ways that a strong opinion is hard to reach on either side of the fence. On one hand there is the superb and show-stopping Helena Bonham Carter fully embodying ape human rights activist Ari. Beneath the layers of make-up and hair we can fully empathise with her character. In many ways she is the Civil-rights activist of the sixties, defying the entrenched Jim Crow living code of Southern USA and through her touching and understated performance the audience feels the deep pathos that came with that era, and subsequently the Planet which we visit.
On this same hand there is the controlled and charismatic performance of Mark Wahlberg. The already much praised make-up work of genius Rick Baker. The apes are stunning to behold, a true spectacle if ever there was one. On this same positive hand we have basically the entire first half of the film, minus one scene of bizarre monkey business in one of the larger ape senator's boudoirs. The first half explores issues in a simple and interesting way, shows great visuals before we get bored, and moves along at a very efficient pace.
Movie Still, Planet of the Apes
On the other hand we have a whole host of cons that really drag down what could have been a very fun popcorn flick. We have the one-dimensional villain. The poor action direction - particularly in the final battle, which with all the tense build-up is about as exciting as a candle which won't light up. And then there is the real nail in the coffin: the ridiculous, overly ambiguous convoluted ending. It makes no sense whatsoever at the time it happens and merely makes you want to throw stones at the screen. It was totally unnecessary and self-indulgent. I have read explanations all over the internet, but they all seem harder to work out than a four unit maths problem, not the kind of ending that should be shoved at the end of a summer blockbuster.
All-in-all POTA is a hit and miss affair. If you go in expecting anything special, anything Tim Burton, anything on an enjoyable popcorn level or someone to say "Get me the Spaceman!", be prepared to be disappointed. If you go in expecting nothing you may be delighted. However, shouldn't we, the film-going public be entitled to expect something more than nothing? Whatever you expect, this is perhaps a planet best left unexplored.
|56% Joel Meares|
Due for Australian release August 9, 2001
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