Before 2001, it was not as common as it is now to remake movies in Hollywood. Sure, they’re have been remakes but at the time this was less accepted when it came to beloved classic films and the remake was usually received very poorly and given little to no support. All this changed in 2001 when renowned filmmaker Tim Burton decided to remake the classic film that was the Planet of the Apes. He justified this by introducing us to a phrase that Hollywood has taken and run with ever since by calling this film a reimagining.
I will start off with the good first before we get to the inevitable downturn this film takes. The makeup in this movie is exceptional and still holds up great to this day and is the one aspect where it outshines the original film. The makeup used for the men especially is the highlight here as all the actors go through huge transformations and look remarkable on camera. The women on the other hand, although they have good makeup, they do not come off as convincing as the men and I would probably credit that to the eyebrows. I do not think I have ever seen an ape with perfect eyebrows and that really took away from the credibility of the female characters. Unfortunately, it seems like the majority of the huge budget for this film went in the makeup department as the rest of the movie is severely lacking.
The movie starts off with Captain Leo Davidson (Mark Wahlberg) training an ape to go on a very dangerous space mission when they seemingly could have just sent a robotic drone with all the technology on their ship to do but I guess it wouldn’t be called Planet of the Apes if we do not have any apes. When the chimpanzee finally goes out into the mission he gets sucked into a black hole and Mark Wahlberg goes after him in a separate pod and gets sucked into the same black hole. He lands on a strange planet where he sees a group of humans being chased by talking ape warriors. He grabs on to the leg of one of the apes, Attar (Michael Clarke Duncan), who kicks him off and utters, “Get your stinking hands off me, you damn dirty human.” This is the point where the movie takes a huge nose dive in quality.
Wahlberg gets captured by the apes and brought to a city where they keep the humans as slaves. This is where we meet Thade (Tim Roth) who is the most over the top angry character in any Planet of the Apes movie. He has so much hatred for humans that it is oozing out of him every time he is on screen, yet we never really get an explanation as to why he hates humans as much as he does. Wahlberg eventually gets broken out by a rebel ape named Ari (Helena Bonham Carter) and they, along with a group of human slaves and ape played by Paul Giamatti, try to find a way off of the planet.
Eventually, we get to the ending. This is mine and most likely a lot of people’s biggest gripe with this movie. After a lackluster fight against the humans and apes, the chimpanzee that Wahlberg was training in the beginning of film somehow finds his way to the planet there they are and stops the fight. The apes think he’s their god, Semus. Wahlberg then takes his pod to travel back to earth and when he does things have changed.
The original Planet of the Apes had a spectacular ending that will forever hold a place in film history when the main character sees the Statue of Liberty and realizes he’s been on earth the whole time. In this iteration, Wahlberg comes back to earth landing near the Lincoln Memorial and sees Thades’ face on the statue. Somehow Thade, who got imprisoned at the end of the battle, made it back to earth before Wahlberg and without a pod to take over the planet.
This whole movie seems like they shot it on a sound stage and never reaches the epic heights that the trailer hyped up. The makeup was good but the story dragged and some of the changes to the original film were unwelcome. What they are doing now with the Planet of the Apes franchise in the current trilogy is light years beyond what Burton tried to do in this “reimagining.”
I would skip this movie and just go straight to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. This is probably the worst Tim Burton film out there and we should just forget this was ever made.