25 October 2003 | the amorphousmachine
Biggest disappointment of 2001!
Awhile back, I commented on the original 'Planet of the Apes' film prior to seeing this remake at the cinemas. When I saw the original, I was fully expecting the remake to kick some serious butt, and be far superior to the 1960s version. Why? Better visual effects being 2001 and all, one of my favorite actors in Tim Roth starring in it, and a great director named Tim Burton. Nothing could surely go wrong with Burton in the director's chair. Granted, I was never a huge fan of the POTA films, but seeing the potential here for a remake or revision by Burton made my mouth water. Then, in 2001, I got advance tickets and I began to watch one of the most anticipated movies for that year...
I left the cinema very disappointed! Disappointment can cloud criticism though, and sometimes makes you bitter towards a movie and not see the positives. So I tried to look at the good. The make-up was excellent, but inconsistent in parts, but I still feel that area should have been nominated for an Oscar. Okay, that's good! Tim Roth was amazing in his performance but his character was not that great and seriously lacked depth. Helena Bonham Carter was also fairly decent in this film. And, finally some of the cinematography was fairly nice.
What really let the remake of 'Planet of the Apes' down, was by in large, Tim Burton. This is, without a doubt, his worst film that I've seen! I cannot really compliment the direction of this movie, as it seemed self-aware and indulgent in being the "remake". The script was awful, as well as the integration of one-liners from the original films to this new one. I groaned completely during Heston's cameo, particularly due the referrals to the original film. The remake should have been a film in its own right, and should have focused on creating a compelling story and universe, instead of opting for lame jokes revolving around Charlton Heston in ape make-up as Thade's father. The hero of the new film in Mark Whalberg was one-note, but he was given such a boring character who just went through the motions. Going to take a risk- check, gets sucked through a new dimension- check, captured by Apes- check, escape- check and so on and so on. I never felt anything for his character at all, and that was partly his performance and partly the woeful script/direction. Estella Warren was awful, and Kris Kristofferson played the obligatory predictable role of the her father. Michael Clarke Duncan suited his part, but never became a well established character, and Paul Giamatti was okay as Limbo, but was obviously the comic relief. I also did not like the art direction was the Ape City, and found the original far more convincing in look and as a story.
While, General Thade was certainly a memorable chimp because of Roth's performance, it's a shame the character was wasted in an extremely formulaic and cliche story! 'Planet of the Apes' (2001) is nowhere near the worst film of 2001, it certainly was the most disappointing for me, considering the potential it had with the dynamic vision of Tim Burton and the modern visual f/x to create a film that stands out in its own right. It's just a pity Tim Burton chose to make a Hollywoodized self-aware gimmicky version that ends up being significantly inferior to the original film, instead of on par with it! And yes, Burton's 'Mars Attacks' is also better than his remake here! 'Planet of the Apes' gets a reluctant pass for Tim Roth's performance, the superb make-up and the decent cinematography, however that still doesn't save it from silly mediocrity.
**½ out of *****!