Projections - Movie Reviews

Planet of the Apes (2001)

Planet of the Apes

Open on a space station that uses chimps as pilots and a training sequence in process.  Capt. Leo Davidson (Mark Wahlberg) scolds his trainee pilot only to soon loose him when the chimp is used to see if a human can survive an electromagnetic storm heading for the station.

Capt. Davidson is unhappy with the decision to send the chimp, but even more unhappy when the animal is lost.  Disobeying orders, Davidson launches and attempts to rescue his charge.  Here the special effects are great and you get the feel of flying the pod yourself.  Unable to keep the chimps ship in range, Davidson is soon thrown hundreds of years into the future - a future where man has fallen a rung or two on the evolutionary ladder and apes rule the world.

Unlike the original, the apes as well as the humans talk.  Other striking differences are the lack of technology in the ape community and "clean look" for all the humans.  Those differences aside, the film plays well most of the time.  There are moments where it is dark and the movements of some of the apes is too human, but the makeup is spectacular and when you look into the eyes of gorilla, chimp or orangutan, you feel the animal is real and peering into your soul, especially General Thade (Tim Roth).

It is the General who notices that Davidson is "different" and it is that difference that becomes much of the plot.  Soon after his capture and sale to a flesh peddler (Paul Giamatti) and some general comedic relief, Davidson has his first show down.  Were it not for the kind hearted Ari (Helena Bonham Carter) he would have been killed.  You can see the hatred in the General's eyes and a curiosity as to why this human does not fear him as have all the others.

Having been rescued, Davidson and a small band of other "house" humans attempt to escape and ultimately end up being guided by Ari.  The escape sequence is fair, but the tirade that General Thade throws as a result is primal and breath taking.

Davidson soon becomes a living legend and humans come to find him and help him at the film's climax.  To tell more, would ruin some nice surprises.

Expect a good story, a different role for Charleton Heston in a cameo and the ever powerful Michael Clarke Duncan to provide closure for our story.  This is not the original, but a clever and well thought adaptation of the classic Pierre Boulle science fiction novel.  The cast is strong, the script clever and the ending an imaginative possibility.

In short, director Tim Burton is not monkeying around and delivers one of the best film of the summer.

Planet of the Apes (2001)

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