Retrospective: Planet of the Apes (2001)

Plans to bring back the Planet of the Apes saga were in the pipeline from 1988, however after many false starts and proposed scripts, casts and directors (that I'll discuss in the next installment), it was in 2001 that we were treated to a new chapter. Tim Burton helmed the project with a star cast lead by Mark Wahlberg. Burton has stated the film is not a direct remake but instead a 'reimagination' and we can clearly see this from the film. Once again, we see an astronaut crash land on a planet ruled by an advanced civilization of apes.

Despite being generally slated, I enjoy the film for what is. It's not a patch on the first entry (or even first three) but it's a worthy addition to the series. Burton himself even said that he'd "rather jump out a window" than make a sequel to this film.

One of the film's strongest elements is fantastic make-up design by Rick Baker. The ape masks are incredibly realistic without having to go down the route of CGI, this really gives the movie a distinct B-Movie charm whilst linking back to the previous entries. The ape planet is also incredibly realistic (as it should be on a $100 million budget!) and visually phenomenal.
See what I mean!
Although the story and basic premise of the film has been done several times before, a new and exciting cast help to breathe some life back into the series. Mark Wahlberg is excellent, whilst we may not get the same sense of anger and frustration as we did with Charlton Heston's character, Wahlberg still makes the role engaging and believable. As well as that he looks damn good in an astronauts uniform. There's also a terrifying turn from Tim Roth, a Kim-Hunter-esque role for Helena Bonham Carter and Paul Giamatti as a wise-cracking orangutang.  Plus there's also appearances from Kris Kristofferson, David Warner, Michael Clarke Duncan and veterans of the series, Charlton Heston and Linda Harrison. It is incredibly fun to see Heston in the ape make-up and him being there is a nice nod back to the original films.

Despite this magnificent cast, the film just doesn't have the same social impact or satirical power that the original films had. However, it does serve as an entertaining and fun action/adventure film, and on that basis it's perfectly fine.

One of my main problems with the film is the ending. It's incredibly chaotic and loses the impact and shock that the ending of the original film had. It feels like they were attempting to top it, but in the end it just looks silly.

Next up The Planet of the Apes Films That Never Were...

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