Movie Review – “Planet of the Apes (2001)”

I caught the new version of this film last night.
The spoiler free review is below.


An astronaut finds himself on a world in which all
primates are
intelligent and sentient, and humans have the lowest
social status of
them all.

Cast, Crew, and Other Info

This version stars Mark Wahlberg, Tim Roth,
Estella Warren, Michael
Clarke Duncan, and Helena Bonham Carter. Charlton
Heston has the
requisite cameo.

This one was directed by Tim Burton, scored by
Danny Elfman, and
contained make-up supervised by Rick Baker.

Complete cast and crew information can be found in
this IMDB

It was released in North America on Friday July
27, 2001.

High Point

One of Charlton Heston’s lines. You’ll know which

Low Point

It’s hard to describe this one without spoilers,
but one of the
actions the captain of the space station performed
made no sense with
his character.

Comparisons to the 1968 version

The original version is famous, primarily for its
ending. This
film is not a remake or sequel to that movie, but
rather a second film
based on the same book. This year’s version is less
preachy and
touches different issues that didn’t apply in the
1960’s. It has a
faster pace as well.

The ending to this film is not the same ending as
the original. (I
won’t discuss spoilers here. If you want to know
about the ending,
I’m sure you can drudge the information up
somewhere.) At first, this
ending doesn’t seem to make as much sense as the
original did, but I
think I’ve finally got it sorted out. I’d like to
discuss it, but I’m
not putting spoilers in the review. Feel free to
e-mail me if you
want to talk about it. (Please include your own
first. I won’t give spoilers unless I’m sure you’ve
seen the film.)

The Scores

It’s hard to be truly original when someone
else made a movie
based on the same source material you used. Still,
this departs from
the previous film in several respects, including the
origin of the apes. (Once again, the trailers were
too revealing.) I
give the originality 3 out of 6.

The make-up effects were great, although the faces
weren’t as
articulated as Baker managed for How The Grinch
. (I won’t compare it to the make-up
for the original;
it’s not fair to the incredible make-up job they
managed then to set
it against work done by Hollywood’s best prosthetic
artist 30 years
later.) The other special effects consisted of CGI
and wire work.
The both were competent; they seemed to mesh well
with the
environment, but that’s not a difficult achievement
anymore. The only
effects that got to me were some of the modifications
made to the
mouths of the gorillas and apes when they screamed.
It seemed almost
like their mouths were stretched farther than the
human mouth can go,
but that’s not the part that got to me. There are a
few close up
shots of an open, screaming mouth, with nothing
inside it but teeth.
There’s no palette, there’s not dangly thing in the
(mandible?), there’s not throat. There’s just
blackness, which I
found jarring enough to remind me I was watching a
movie. I
understand they were rushed to finish the effects,
but I’d rather see
the studios delay the release of the film to get it
right than rush
out substandard product. I give the effects
4 out of 6.

The story was well plotted this time. At
first the ending
seemed tacked on, but I think I’ve managed to
reconcile myself to that
one. There were a few corny sounding lines of
dialogue, but those
were all slightly altered quotes from the first film,
so I won’t
penalize them for it this time around. Overall, it
was more
action-oriented than the original, but it’s hard to
get the necessary
budget to do this film properly without selling it to
the studio as a
summer blockbuster. That’s a flaw with the Hollywood
system, not with
the film itself. I give the story 3 out of 6.

I enjoyed the acting from all the cast, with the
exception of Mark
Wahlberg. He seemed too accepting of the situation
to me. His
emotional range seemed to be calm and determined,
mildly confused, or
slightly guilty. I found Tim Roth, on the other
hand, to be entirely
convincing and wholly unrecognizable. He did a great
job. I give the
acting 4 out of 6. (It would have been a 5 had
Wahlberg, the star,
been on par with the rest of the cast.)

In terms of emotional response, the best I
could muster was
some anger and confusion at the ending. (The anger
was not at the
nature of the ending, but rather because they used
the Sam Hamm ending
without crediting him. This can be alleviated if I
read the book and
find this ending there.) It was too predictable to
maintain any
level of suspense for me. I give it 2 out of 6.

The production values here are the only
aspects I feel can go
free of debate. Danny Elfman’s score was fantastic,
despite the last
minute changes the studio asked from him. (They
wanted it to be more
heroic. Keep in mind that Danny Elfman has scored
Batman and
Men In Black, the short lived The
TV series,
and is working on Spider Man. I think he
knows what heroic
sounds like.) The direction was distinctly Tim
Burton. I give the
production 5 out of 6.

Overall, this was an entertaining 2
hours, but I feel no
pressing need to see it again. I give it 3 out of 6

In total, Planet of the Apes (2001) has a
score of 24 out
of 42. It’s a renter.

9 replies on “Movie Review – “Planet of the Apes (2001)””

  1. You rated this lower than A.I.??
    Wow. I felt Planet of the Apes was full of cheese, and there were many pointless lines of dialog and “subplots”. I thought the ending totally redeemed many of it’s bad qualities, and overall it was OK. I think minor script revisions could’ve made this into a really awesome movie.

    A.I. on the other hand….well, I wouldn’t start a fire with that script….

  2. Not Bad At All, But No Classic Either…
    Tim Burton has actually done a pretty good job with something that would have been very easy to mess up. Visually this movie was quite beautiful and the ape makeup was of course remarkable. The astronaut,however, was a complete dolt whose only excuse for being there was to make a POTA movie by being the obligatory human rabblerouser. The plot has two levels – on one hand it is so shallow it exists only to get from one scene to the next. On the other hand, we have a very intricate time travel story here that the viewer is left to figure out on their own. (And no, POTA is NOT Earth – it has three moons). The ending makes no sense at all until you remember a throwaway scene in the first half of the movie that had no real followup of any kind showing Thade’s trechery to his own men – er, apes – if it suited his needs. A little head scratching, an ah-ha moment, and we’re all set up for a sequel. The main thing that got me is how we’re supposed to have a ship / station like Oberion only 28 years from now. Yeah, right. There should be some sort of rule in SF that if you spout off a specific date, its got to be 100+ years in the future so you don’t destroy the willing suspension of disbelief with totally outlandish projections. However they got Oberion built, it sure wan’t thru the insubordinate actions of guys like USAF Capt. Leo Stupid.

  3. It’s hard to express my disappointment…
    …without getting into too many spoilers.

    About the only thing I liked was the makeup. But even that was tainted by the obvious attempt by the filmmakers to make the female chimps too human in appearance (perhaps so that the sexual overtones of Ari’s and Leo’s relationship wouldn’t seem too icky, which I understand was a problem in test screenings?). Tim Roth’s makeup, however, was incredible.

    Count me as one of the people completely confused by the ending. Regardless of the meaning behind it, I feel that it was tacked on merely so that Tim Burton could say “we have a shock ending just as good as the original”, which, I’m sorry to say, it wasn’t. It made no sense and made me wish I had left the theatre a few minutes early.

    I have many, many other minor quibbles with this flick, and some major ones as well. As an example, and without giving too much away, does anyone else think that Charlton Heston’s big scene is totally ruined by the subtext of who he is (in real life, not his character) and what he’s talking about?

    Overall, I’d give this movie a 5 out of 10, mostly for the makeup, music, and costuming.

    • Re: It’s hard to express my disappointment…

      About the only thing I liked was the makeup. But even that
      was tainted by the obvious attempt by the filmmakers to
      make the female chimps too human in appearance (perhaps so
      that the sexual overtones of Ari’s and Leo’s relationship
      wouldn’t seem too icky, which I understand was a problem
      in test screenings?).

      The problem people had with the test screenings was a
      love scene between Davison and Ari. Apparantly they found
      it so disturbing it could have a serious impact on the
      grosses, so it was removed.

    • Re: It’s hard to express my disappointment…
      I thought the subtext of the quote was what made it so wonderful. It was worth the price of the admission, for me. I thought it was otherwise a fun film that exceeded my low expectations. Watching Tim Roth was very enjoyable. The 3 human supporting actors were very dispensible plot-wise. I wanted all the humans to get exterminated. Particularly the bimbo.

  4. Oberon in 26 years?
    I think maybe Tim Burton placed the beginning of the movie only 26 (or was it 28?) years in the future so that we are forced to think that this is a wholly different time line. That’s the only way I can figure it makes sense.

    And what was it that the ship’s crew did that was so unrealistic?

    • Re: Oberon in 26 years?

      And what was it that the ship’s crew did that was so

      If you haven’t seen the movie, stop reading now. In
      the low point, I was referring to the captain taking the
      ship into the anomoly. I don’t believe that a man who
      wouldn’t risk one human for an ape would risk the entire
      crew for the same insubordinate human.

      • the captain’s actions made some sense
        it made sense in one way: the station captain REALLY didn’t want to send a human into that anomaly. one could assume he valued human life highly, in that captain kirk-ish leave-no-man-behind way. but apes? forget about them.

        one can easily see people in our own world who value human life so highly, but not anything that they consider below humans.

  5. The ending “explained” by TPTB

    A producer has stepped forward to respond to questions
    about the ending. Read the response here.

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