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Featured Movie Reviews

Planet of the Apes

Tim Burton is one of the most visually inspired directors of the last 30 years, but his 2001 remake of PLANET OF THE APES is a rare misfire for him. It's worst offense may be that it's a completely unnecessary entry in the Apes film legacy.

Mark Wahlberg (whiny and badly miscast) is Astronaut Leo Davidson, who follows his chimp counterpart into a time wormhole, ending up on a planet far in the future, ruled by Apes.

Here's the good:

* The sets and visual look of the film are what you expect from Burton: beautiful, unique, well executed.

* Rick Baker's makeup is fantastic and the best thing in the film. This is pre-CGI and his work on the actors is perfect, taking John Chambers ground breaking make up designs from the 60's to an entirely different level.

* Some of the cast excels. Tim Roth (Pulp Fiction) steals the movie as General Thade, a human hating war monger terrified of human history. Speaking in a hushed, powerful growl, Roth is excellent.

Michael Clarke Duncan is also good as Thade's right hand gorilla Attar and Paul Giamatti (Sideways) is hilarious as Limbo, a fast talking Orangutan salesman.

* Charlton Heston makes a GREAT cameo in the film as Thade's father, Zaius. His last motion while dying will make any fan of his role in "Beneath the Planet of the Apes" smile.

Here's the bad:

* For some reason, the humans on the planet can talk too, which completely changes the story mechanics from the original version. The change never drives anything in the story, except for giving Kris Kristofferson very little to do and say as one of the humans.

* Estella Warren is NO LInda Harrison.

* I've never been a fan of Helena Bonham Carter. She always seems exactly the same in every role she plays. You'd think that couldn't be true under Chimpanzee makeup as the female lead Ari (basically an updated Zira) but nope, Carter is still dull in the role. If she wasn't Burton's wife I wonder if she'd get cast in anything.

And the WORST thing in the movie is the ending. Burton has said it's not supposed to make sense. That's good because it doesn't. It feels like a cheat on everything before it, especially the last 25 minutes of the film, which are be far the strongest. It's the dumbest twist since M. Night's horrific "The Village" and that's saying something.

Burton said the surprise ending would be explained in the sequel. Online theories of what the ending means were countless. I read one that made my head hurt dealing with time on opposite sides of the wormhole moving in opposite directions. I think Stephen Hawking may have been the only one to see the last five minutes and say "Oh, that makes sense."

I'd watch another movie with Roth as Thade, he's fantastic.

As for everyone else, they're stuck in a silly, over-plotted, boring mess that cost $100 million to make, is fantastic to look at, but never involving.

Wahlberg couldn't carry Heston's loincloth on his best day.

Burton's PLANET OF THE APES gets a D.

Followed 10 years later by a completely different, far superior re-imagined trilogy that kicked off with "Rise of the Planet of the Apes".

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