Main cast: Mark Wahlberg (Leo Davidson), Tim Roth (General Thade), Helena Bonham Carter (Ari), Michael Clarke Duncan (Attar), Kris Kristofferson (Karubi), Estella Warren (Daena), Paul Giamatti (Limbo), Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Krull), Erick Avari (Tival), Luke Eberl (Birn), David Warner (Senator Sandar), and Glenn Shadix (Senator Nado)
Director: Tim Burton
Tim Burton and company rushed Planet of the Apes to the theaters, post-production being completed barely two weeks before the release date. And boy, does that show. This movie makes little sense and is filled with lack of continuity and too much schizophrenic characterization. The script has holes the size of the space-time wormhole thingie astronaut Leo Davidson and his space gang flew through. I doubt Tim Burton will boast of this movie in his resume anytime soon.
Astronaut Leo Davidson crashes on what seems like an alternate Earth, with a big difference – primates rule, and humans are the slaves. He, with the help of monkey babe Ari and her loyal bodyguard Krull, soon whip the humans into a rebellion, bla bla bla, and then there’s the surprise ending, surprising only in that it is so, well, blah.
I haven’t read the book which this movie claims to follow more faithfully than the 1968 movie, so I don’t know how right is that statement. But I do know this.
One, Leo is a jerk. He swings from being a reluctant, gorilla-loving hero to a cliché-sprouting Braveheart-wannabe hero to a jerk who will abandon all his friends just to go home. If the idea is to have an antihero in the limelight, someone please tell Mark Wahlberg that antiheroes, at least, are likable? Mr Wahlberg plays Leo with one expression for every conceivable emotion, and he comes off as a wooden jerk with all the charisma and personality of a soggy diaper.
And what’s up with his sudden romance with that Daena woman? Estella Warren plays Daena with all the enthusiasm of the soggy diaper. Did I miss some crucial scene in the cinema, because I thought Ari and Leo are the ones who are supposed to do the nasty? This sudden romance between Leo and that Daena woman comes out of the blue. It feels like a hasty damage-repair after the studio executives whined that Ari and Leo getting it on smacks of bestiality. Too bad – bestiality will, at least, be interesting compared to Starry Buxom Bimbo’s star-struck adoration with Wooden-Head here.
Then there’s the final revelations and the ending, which I’m still trying to figure out. Either it’s technically possible, or the moviemakers have decided to rewrite the law of physics themselves. But I do know that the appearance of that monkey (okay, this is a spoiler if I explain more, so I won’t) in the nick of time is just lame. That one spells PLOT CONTRIVANCE in neon colors.
At the end of the day, I just don’t care about this movie. I kind of like Ari and Attar and that’s it. Thade is a wasted opportunity – he comes off insipid and full of hot air rather than genuinely menacing. And the humans, including Leo and Cavewoman Barbie here, are too dull to register.
What I find the most odd is how this movie is lacking in Tim Burton’s usual excesses. It’s just like any unthinking pyrotechnic-filled movie that could have been made by anyone with big budget to waste. Maybe Mom was right – procrastination, even in Hollywood, really can hurt. Planet of the Apes looks, feels, and in all probability is a mega rushed job, and that just sucks lemons as much as Woodyhead and Cavewoman Barbie here.