Sunday, July 29, 2001

Planet of the Apes

The high point of the Summer of 2001 movie season has finally arrived. I am happy to report that Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes was worth the wait.

Remaking one of the most loved and revered science fiction films in the history of cinema would have been a daunting task, for anyone but Tim Burton. The director of such favorites as Batman, Sleepy Hollow, Mars Attacks, and Pee Wee's Big Adventure has created one of the best remakes of all time.

The makeup is fabulous. The special effects are awesome. Burton's take on the Apes story is not a carbon copy of the original Planet of the Apes plot and is different enough to keep even long-time fans like me glued to the screen. Yet, Burton is completely faithful to the original idea and doesn't shake anything up too much.

If you are a fan of the original movies, you are going to find a lot to like here. In-jokes abound and there are a couple of noteworthy guest appearances. Linda Harrison (Nova in the original films) appears as a human captive. Charlton Heston (Taylor in the 1968 Planet and Beneath the Planet of the Apes), has the best homage (and uncredited) guest appearance. Did you spot him? If not, well here's a hint: he's the character that utters the apocalyptic phrase "Damn them all to Hell!" If you've seen the original Planet, you know the significance of these words. The theatre that I was in recognized him and erupted in laughter and applause when they heard this!

The other actors do a great job. Mark Wahlberg is suitably subdued. Helena Bonham Carter is wonderful, as a chimpanzee that is sympathetic to humans. Paul Giamatti (you'll remember him as Pig Virus from Howard Stern's Private Parts movie) is an ape that trades in humans and has some very funny lines. Kris Kristofferson is in half of the film, but he's great while he's there. Burton's wife Lisa Marie walks through the film just like she did in Mars Attacks.

So, all in all, a great film and worthy of the Tim Burton tradition. The bizarre ending of Planet of the Apes leaves a sequel hanging and is perfectly done. Great summer entertainment.

Planet of the Apes (like Shrek) is one of the best films so far this summer. Both take chances and succeed. We are the winners because we get to spend the Summer of 2001 in theatres marveling at creative accomplishments like these.

Visit the Planet of the Apes web site for more information.

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