Planet of the Apes (2001)

Bomb Rating: 

Excluding this one, here are Tim Burton's last three films: "Sleepy Hollow", "Mars Attacks!" and "Ed Wood". Who, exactly, designated this nerdboy a great filmmaker? He barely manages to grunt out decent films. I could name fifty other directors who are better and more consistent than Tim Burton, yet his work seems to garner some sort of special recognition, perhaps because the losers who flock to it identify with his lack of fashion sense or antisocial mannerisms, all filmed in moody Gloom-O-VisionTM.

Perhaps "Planet of the Apes" will finally put the notion of Burton-as-tortured-genius to rest, because he's not a tortured genius and he's not all that creative. He's just one of these guys who can't figure out how to operate a comb (have you noticed how genius is often associated with poor hair management?) This movie is awful. As far as I can tell, the sole reason it was made was to flaunt realistic-looking apes. There was zero interest in spinning a better story. Just hauling out some great-looking apes and parading them around the screen. Maybe what Burton really wanted was somebody to pick lice and groom his hair for him.

Before I go any further, let me just add that I wish somebody would take a pair of cymbals and clang Danny Elfman upside the head. If they haven't already, that is. Nearly every score he does drowns out the movie, which is like trying to watch a film while somebody trims your pubic hair with a wheat thresher. Elfman, apparently, understands only two decibel levels: "loudest" and "airplane landing".

At one point in this film, Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg) tells his ape protector, Ari (Helena Bonham Carter), that he will "show her something that will change her world". You can imagine what it is. Anyway, Dirk ended up on the ape planet after taking a ride into a space storm and getting transported through time. Immediately, he runs into humans, including the large-breasted Daena (Estella Warren), and is chased by the apes because he obviously threatens them. Particularly threatened are General Thade (Tim Roth) and Attar (Michael Clarke Duncan). After all, you can't have a human like Dirk Diggler just strolling around your ape planet.

This film's crucial mistake is this: the humans talk and the apes know it. This detail, which the filmmakers seemed to have discarded because they're completely stupid, gave the original film a plot point to turn on. The apes discovered a human that could communicate intelligently. In this remake, it's more like ape Nazis who just want to exterminate the humans. It gives the whole thing about as much philosophical depth as a game of "Whack-A-Mole".

I figure the only reason Estella Warren is in this film at all is to advertise the lip gloss she was wearing. Apparently, shelter and human rights are nonexistent on Planet Ape, but lip gloss is plentiful. Ari slathers it on but good, too. As you may know, the film's ending has nothing to do with the Statue of Liberty. Obviously, the filmmakers felt they needed a new end with equal shock value, so they made something up. Something utterly nonsensical that cheats the viewer. The only thing it does is set up a sequel, and if there's a sequel to this piece of crap, it establishes that we are already living on a planet of apes.

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