ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  tim burton

RATED  -  pg-13

GENRE  -  action

LENGTH  -  119 minutes

RELEASED  -  27 july 2001

DISTRIBUTOR  -  20th century fox

OFFICIAL SITE  -  planet of the apes

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $100,000,000
planet of the apes - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from planet of the apes at

buy the dvd from planet of the apes at

a spaceman lands on a planet inhabited by intelligent, speaking apes.

estella warren is 5'9" and mark walhberg is 5' 7 1/2". walhberg was placed on a platform in his scenes with actress estella warren so as to appear taller than her.


picture from planet of the apes

picture from planet of the apes

picture from planet of the apes


one out of four possible stars

The special effects are astounding, the make-up and costumes will render any movie-goer speechless, and the plot's about as interesting a watching dung beetles in Africa hone in on their prey. What does all this add up to? A two hour fight fest called Planet of the Apes, the latest offering from the usually un-mainstream director, Tim Burton. Why has he decided to delve into blockbuster territory with this film? I'd like to know what he got for directing the sucker.

Apparently, the producers asked just about all of Hollywood to direct this remake (or "revisioning" as it's been called) and everybody said no. Except good 'ol Tim. Perhaps he thinks it's time that he jumps into the realm of blockbuster giants Spielberg and Lucas. There's certainly enough dough out in that arena. But Burton has done something interesting with his remake of the 1968 version of this Classic. He's tried to take it in a dramatically different direction, leaving only the basic idea of the original story in place: an astronaut lands on a planet inhabited by human-like apes, who rule the planet with an iron fist.

The rest of the story is pretty different. For example, the story is not so dependent on that famous twist of an ending as was the first film. Although burton does give a different twist at the end (don't worry, I wont reveal it), the film as a whole really is not a journey that depends on that ending. And this is perhaps one of the first falters for this film. The fact that the plot just plods along for most of the film, relying on the special effects and constitutions of the actors to carry it along and make it interesting means that for two hours, the audience really doesn't get a very deep film. Now I'm not asking for Jean Luc Godard here, but I think there should be a least a little more interaction between the characters to give us some idea about the histories of the people and the apes.

There are some good scenes between the apes (especially between "Thade," played by Tim Roth and thade's father, played by You'll-Never-Guess-Who), where we get to see what life is like for them, but I don't really feel I know any of the characters when the chase begins in the second act. All I really know about these people and apes is that they hate one another and that they've been in a fight for as long as anyone can remember. There are but a few scenes of the ape society at large, one when the humans are first brought into the ape city, and another when the humans try to escape. But for all the costumes and make-up, I really didn't feel I knew who these people (and apes) were.

Conversely, I felt that the apes were really the element to this film that gave the audience the most interesting performances. The dialogue from Mark Wahlberg's human character of "Leo Davidson" was just mostly lame. Like the rest of the humans in the film. Nobody human really said anything much. And what they did say was not that interesting. Or, it was kind of lame. I hate to harp on that word over and over again, but it's true. The humans (and about half of the apes) really reminded me of cardboard: thin and stiff. And, last time I checked, cardboard has no acting ability.

So the real dilemma here is whether or not you can ignore a lack of good scripting and some shallow characters and just enjoy the art direction, costumes, and make-up. Well, I can't. If you're going to go and remake one of the best films of the sixties, you had better give it a top notch script. And since we've all scene the ending of the original, you'd better give us more to do during the movie wait for the ending. And the ending for this one isn't really that different. It's just a minor twist. Same theme, different look.

An actress that really disappointed me was Estella Warren. In Driven she played a vapid girlfriend to a racecar driver who really only was there for eye candy and a few forlorn looks to the camera. And in Planet, she does the same thing. Lots of weird looks, not a lot of dialogue. And the dialogue she does have is about as original as the plot of Friday the Thirteenth - Part Seven. And that's the problem with much of the speaking parts for this movie. The dialogue's just kind of lame.

And some of the characters just weren't good enough to pull off lame dialogue. It takes a good performer to make a silly line sound real. For example, in one scene, Michael Clarke Duncan says something like "we will bury them together so that no one will know if they are human or ape." Now this line is kind of like lame exposition and is only barely carried off convincingly because of Duncan's ability to deliver any line and make it believable. The dialogue in this film just hovered on the uninteresting, leaving the special effects and make-up to compensate.

In any case, I think that if Tim Burton had intended to truly make his version of Planet of the Apes a new and spectacular vision that totally eclipsed the original, or at least turned into something that fans of the original could appreciate, he should have hired a screenwriter with a brain. I think that the filmmakers are responsible to the audience in that the must make a picture that's interesting to watch, as well as listen to. Visually, this film can be compared to any groundbreaking film out there with the high caliber of special effects through out it. in nearly every shot, there's something interesting to look at. But they've failed miserably in creating something that's interesting. The screenwriters turned a fascinating story into fodder for special effects.

Script aside, Rick Baker really has done something amazing with the ape effects in the film. In the first film in 1968, the apes were little more than humans with masks on. But in this update, the humans have taken on a host of characteristics that make them appear to as close to apes as they can get without using actual apes for the actors. And the world they've created is visually stunning as well. Something interesting to look at in every frame. But without even a few bits of an intelligent script, this movie trips and falls and breaks its nose right after the opening credits (which are fascinating . . . probably done by the same person who did sleepy hollow).

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

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