Saturday, July 15, 2017

Movie Review: Planet of the Apes (2001)

Director Tim Burton remade the science fiction classic but came up short on quality and story. Captain Leo Davidson (Mark Wahlberg) works with chimpanzees teaching them space flight aboard a space station. When they come close to a space storm, they send out the chimp Pericles but he flies off course. Davidson flies out after it, disobeying orders, and is warped further out in space and time. He crash lands in a swamp and abandons his ship as it sinks beneath the water. He quickly encounters other humans who are fleeing an attack by apes. The humanoid chimps and gorillas have amazing jumping abilities and easily catch the humans, throwing them in carts. Leo is shocked to find out that the apes can speak. Using humans as cattle, Leo and the other captives a brought back into the ape city, full of all sorts of astonishing sights. 

The apes do not treat the humans with respect though Ari (Helen Bonham Carter) scolds the child apes that throw stones at them. The trader orangutan Limbo (Paul Giamatti) purchases the humans and stores them in prisons. The leader Thade (Tim Roth) inspects them with his right-hand man Attar (Michael Clarke Duncan), looking to purchase one for his daughter. As Limbo brands the humans like Daena (Estella Warren), Ari interferes on their behalf and purchase Leo, bringing him home. The apes debate possessing humans at dinner and Thade visits Ari after professing his love, though she spurns him. Leo escapes with Daena who makes him help her father Karubi (Kris Kristofferson) and family. The humans can all talk and Leo organizes an escape with them and Ari, though Karubi sacrifices himself.

Leo returns to the crash site and retrieves a bag with a blaster pistol and messenger. He tracks a homing beacon to find his spaceship. Limbo attacks the group but Leo demonstrates the power of his laser. Thade works to cover up the existence of Leo's spaceship and learns of the humans' destructive power from his dying father. Leo and the group head into the forbidden lands, marked by scarecrows. The apes send out a battalion after them led by Attar. The group rides through the battalion's camp and Leo has to save Ari's life. The group heads towards a forbidden holy site known as Calima. The apes worship a founding ape named Semos. Leo finds the site is actually his crashed ship. The ship is powered by a nuclear power source that lasts the thousands of years it has been there. 

Leo learns from the ship log that the apes they were experimenting with were the source of this new species of advanced ape. Other humans from the villages arrive at the downed ship, setting up a human camp. Ari returns to the ape battalion's camp and pretends to ask Thade for forgiveness but he brands her and sends her back. There is a large battle for the finale as the ape army attacks the humans. Leo blows up a fuel cell killing the first charge of apes. The humans flood in to fight but the large ape army overpowers them. As the battle seems lost for the humans, Pericles's ship flies down. The apes kneel believing this is Semos, but Thade attacks Leo knocking him into the bowel of the ship. Leo tries to shoot him but Thade dodges and steals the blaster. He tries to kill Leo but Leo locks him in the control room behind strong glass. Attar and the other warrior apes announce a new peace with the humans. Leo takes Pericles's ship back to Earth where he discovers world run by apes.  

Planet of the Apes was already a classic and this additional film added nothing to the story besides some updated special effects. The makeup is still extraodrinary and Tim Roth's performance as Thade is worth a watch. Wahlberg is awful as a scientist pretending to know a lot of stuff and brings down the main role. The story ends on a bizarre cliffhanger and didn't inspire enough fan appreciation to spark a sequel furthering the story. The movie has its moments to enjoy but this is far from the stunning masterpiece of the original.

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