Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mark of the Apes

My Apes marathon moves on to Tim Burton's 2001 remake (or re-imagining) of Planet of the Apes. Based on the original film and Pierre Boule's 1963 novel Monkey Planet which inspired the whole franchise.
Let's look at the positives first. The ape costumes and make-up have obviously improved immeasurably, although they seem to have a problem with the female chimpanzees' hair. Likewise the actors have obviously all been to an ape movement class and so they leap, climb and swing more like real simians. There's also a more accurate depiction of the difference in strength between humans and apes. And Michael Clarke Duncan gets to deliver the apes' version of Charlton Heston's famous "Get your stinking paws off me!" line.

After that the film rapidly deteriorates. Mark Wahlberg has gone on to do better things but he struggles here. Why is his character out of breath all the time? Is he trying to convey a sense of urgency, or is he having an asthma attack from all the flying fur? And would it have killed them to call his character Taylor instead of Davidson. It's not as if that is even a nod back to the original novel where the hero was called Merou.

Talking about flying fur how do the apes do the huge jumps that they manage in this film? A certain degree of bouncing about seems OK but here they do huge Crouching Tiger, Hidden dragon leaps. There's clearly wire work going on when General Thade flies on to the back of his horse.

Everything happens too quickly, before we know it Davidson and a rag-tag bunch of apes and humans have escaped to the forbidden zone and he has inspired the human slaves to rise up against the apes. There's a bloody battle, then a literal Deus ex Machina appears which just leaves Davidson to hop back in his spaceship, do the time warp again and make his own date with destiny and another twist ending. Incidentally if he's such a hot-shot pilot how come he crashes two separate ships when the chimpanzee makes such a perfect landing? And to think he left behind Estella Warren's cleavage to just go and crash on another ape planet. Epic fail!

Given the choice between this remake and the original choose the Charlton Heston version every time. Heston does show up in this version briefly and gets to repeat his "Damn them all to hell!" line but I would much rather watch him kneeling in the surf, pounding his fists than this expensive mess of a movie.

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