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"Planet of the Apes" vs. "Planet of the Apes"

Review Date:  7/29/01 


This is the annual comparison review; luckily for me, Hollywood keeps remaking former hits, so it will be easy to continue this trend into the foreseeable future.  Last year, it was "'Shaft' vs. 'Shaft'", and this current review uses the same format.

"Planet of the Apes" (2001)

You know what this movie is about already, so I won't bother you with the details.  And, plain and simple:  I was very disappointed by this film.

Why?  If you are a Tim Burton fan--and I am--then you come into one of his films expecting to see something dark and brooding and quirky and just a little bit different than the standard box office fare that has become the benchmark for movies in the year 2001.  "Planet of the Apes" does nothing to support the thinking that Burton is an independent working for a major studio--in fact, I think he sold out on this one for the sake of making a wholly mainstream adventure film.

The problems are many, but can be summed up with a few statements.  First, Mark Wahlberg.  I think Wahlberg is a great actor, but he is not a star of any, when he is giving a speech to other humans to lead them in a fight against the apes, you almost want to laugh, because you can't believe this guy is actually going to lead other people into battle!  Don't get me wrong, I think that Wahlberg looks tough as nails to me...he just doesn't look like a leader, whether he be an unwilling one or not.  Would you follow that guy into battle?  Nope!

Second, no story or characters.  The number one way to tell if a movie has no character development?  Ask people what the names of some of those apes were after they saw the film.  Save for the evil General Thade (Tim Roth, the one shining performance of the film), you probably can't name any of them.  I couldn't, even an hour after I had watched it.  I had to check to even get the names of the friendly female ape (Ari, played by Helena Bonham Carter) or Thade's second-in-command (Attar, Michael Clarke Duncan).  And, the story?  Is there one?  Astronaut crash-lands on planet.  30 seconds later, he is rounded up and imprisoned by talking apes.  Although he should be scared to death that apes are talking all around him, he just looks sullen that he was dumb enough to be captured.  I would be scared shitless, but Wahlberg's astronaut Leo is nonchalant.  Leo spends one scene in prison, then breaks out, and after a minimal trek across the planet to his crashed mother ship, he leads some suburban humans in a battle against the apes.  The end.  So bad.

Third, an unbelievable imbalance of physical power.  Although the apes can literally throw humans 50 feet in the air, run twice as fast as they can and jump three times as high (oh, and they are supposedly dozens of times smarter than we will ever be), Leo and friends throw one or two punches at a time and knock out some of the apes in the end fight sequence.  Did you find it odd, too, that apes can also withstand jet propulsion, but not punches from a 15-year-old?  Me too.

Fourth, and most confusing, a horrible ending.  You have to see it to know what I mean.

Rating:  Rental

"Planet of the Apes" (1968)

You know the story of this one, too, so I'll save my breath on that.  The thing I like most about the original film was its bleak take on what it would be like to crash land in a faraway place and have no hope that you will ever see your family and friends again.  Although almost all of the film takes place in broad daylight and has horrible costumes and makeup effects, the original film is much "darker" than the Tim Burton update.  Charlton Heston is a great hero in this original film, and the way that the story is set up by the apes' capture and torture of Heston's stranded astronaut makes you feel good for his character when he finally does break out of the apes' prison.

Unlike the 2001 version of the film, none of the human characters besides Heston can even speak!  This made Heston's love interest (Linda Harrison) that much more interesting, because she had to communicate non-verbally for the entire movie.  And, the ending of this film might be the best, the darkest, the most intriguing part of this film; it is clear what has happened to this astronaut's world and how fruitless his future attempts will be to rectify his situation.

Rating:  $8.25 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09