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Planet of the Apes

Starring: Mark Wahlberg
Director: Tim Burton
Genre: Science Fiction
Year: 2001
Rating: 4 / 5

Believe it or not, some people - including recent co-star Tim Roth - find it difficult to stomach legendary actor Charlton Heston. Regardless, few can discount the impact of his 1968 classic Plant of the Apes. Viewed as campy by some and too political by others, the film is a memorable science fiction epic that is still discussed more than thirty years after its release. The film produced four sequels, a cartoon series, and even a short-lived television show, before finally running aground in the late 1970s. At long last, Planet of the Apes is back in fashion, thanks to director Tim Burton and his vision of the famed upside-down world. The social commentary may not be what it once was and the final sequence less chilling, but this Planet of the Apes is one entertaining adventure.

In the year 2029, astronaut Leo Davidson (Mark Wahlberg) finds himself working with chimpanzees on an unmanned space flight experiment. When his prized student gets lost in the midst of a dangerous probe, Leo suits up and blasts off after his chimp. Within moments, Leo's shuttle is careening towards a temporal vortex, one which appears to transport the astronaut to a different place and time. The pod streaks towards the nearest planet, plowing its way through a native forest and into a small pond. When Leo disengages himself from his ship, he finds himself on a world very different from his own.

As fans of the original and internet surfers are surely aware, Leo has found himself on a planet ruled by apes. Humans, despite outnumbering the ruling apes, dwell in the forests and deserts surrounding the large simian city. They are hunted and enslaved, although, unlike the original, these humans can actually speak. The maniacal General Thade (Tim Roth) wants to see all humans wiped from the planet, while gentle Ari (Helena Bonham Carter) cries out against their abuse. No one knows what to make of Leo, a man who clearly does not belong. Thade views him as a potentially devastating threat to simian society, while Ari views him as even further proof of the need for equality. Either way, Leo is determined to find some way off of the backwards world.

Much of the hype surrounding Planet of the Apes centers on the film's final, harrowing twist. Can it possibly compare to the original's famous final frames? The answer, alas, is no, although two smaller surprises more than make up for it. Director Tim Burton infuses the franchise with the same sort of life he provided Batman in the late 1980s, making it accessible to everyone and building it anew. Frequent collaborator Danny Elfman offers a haunting score that is among his best efforts, and award-winning makeup artist Rick Baker outdoes himself. Actors Tim Roth, Michael Clarke Duncan and especially Helena Bonham Carter wear their expressions and emotions on the outside thanks to Baker's fine work. One less plot gap and the very enjoyable Planet of the Apes may have been out of this world.


Mark Wahlberg..........Leo Davidson
Tim Roth..........Thade
Helena Bonham Carter..........Ari
Michael Clarke Duncan..........Attar

Certification: Rated PG-13.
Running Time: 120 minutes.

Additional Info: Internet Movie Database
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