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Planet of the Apes

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Went with Andy, Jennifer and Steve.  I think this is just the second weekend, so the theatre was crowded.  Our choices were every man for himself or sitting in the first row.  We split up.  I originally had no interest in spending money to see this movie, but liked the excuse to get out of the house.

One line in the commercial that grated on my nerves everytime I heard it was, "There can't be any such thing as talking monkeys."  Grr!  Humans are basically talking monkeys.

I had heard that this was not a strict remake.  And boy, it wasn't.  This story had virtually nothing to do with the original story.  They abandoned the entire plot point in the original where the humans didn't talk.  In this movie, everyone spoke the same language.

The movie started right off with bad science.  Basically, a Star Trek-style "electrical storm."  The storm apparently caused some sort of time distortion, though it was unclear if it also caused teleportation.  And the silliness just keeps on coming.

Similarly, there were several minor physics annoyances.  The apes were able to jump at least thirty feet into the air, and long jump at least seventy-five.  Both from a standing start.

And near the end they have some equipment that rotted in the desert for a thousand years that still worked.

The terrain seemed to be either lush jungle or arid desert.  Absolutely nothing in between, and there was litterally no transition between them.  At one point they ran out of the forest and were within a couple dozen feet of the desert.  At another point we look across a desert at the city, which is a jungle-covered hill that is plopped right in the middle of the desert.  If it were a depression, maybe I could see it as an oasis.  But I can't imagine how the water gets that far up into the hill, which given the contour around it (flat) looks like it must be solid rock.

I spotted one cable that was left in a shot.  Near the beginning of the escape scene, one of the apes climbing the wall.

The entire escape sequence was kind of bothersome.  They showed the characters running a lot, but there was no sense of where they were and where they were headed.   Just people running through random residences.  And the residence thing bothered me as well.  Apparently, the city was arranged such that there were public walkways passing directly through sleeping quarters.  After three or four that was a pretty serious verisimilitude break for me.

Another verisimilitude break was the interior of the station.  They show a recording that documented that the control room was breached and all of the humans were killed.  Yet, late in the big fight scene they trap the main bad guy ape in that same room.  They forgot that it should have had an opening.

This is much more of a simple adventure movie than the original.  They tried to throw in some political commentary with a nod to animal rights.  But that took up less than five minutes of the movie.  There was no real drama involved.  It was very superficial.

The main bad guy ape had an incredibly annoying performance.  And it turns out it was Tim Roth, so that was a bit of a surprise.  He bent his head down and sneered pretty much the entire time.  And he spoke with a very breathy voice and breathed very noisily almost all of the time.  That sort of thing is okay once in awhile, but he had an awful lot of screen time.  The loud breathing just went on and on, surrounding every couple of lines.

And most of the other apes had poor performances.  While the make-up effects were incredible, and gave them a lot of flexibility in showing expressions, the script and direction didn't make good use of it.  It seemed to me the reactions of the actors was just plain stiff most of the time.  One actor would have some lines, the rest would stand around, then suddenly they'd react.  The dialogue just didn't flow well.   It was all too simple and stilted.

And finally the action scenes didn't work very well.  Similar to the escape scene, they seemed contrived.  The good guys ran straight and didn't get caught.  Mark Wahlberg was able to single-handedly take out a large portion of an ape encampment, and they were expecting him.

The climactic fight scene itself followed the same static formula.  The only people who really did anything were the principal actors.  Everyone else just stood around silently in a large group.  No preparations, no animation, just a bunch of blobs.

The love interest was a complete waste.  It was just an excuse to have a scantily clad hot chick.  She really didn't do much of anything through the entire movie.

The ending(s) sucked, too.  They had the big fight scene, the good guys won, (I doubt this will spoil the ending for anyone) and the bad guys decide suddenly to be good guys.  What could be simpler?

I didn't catch any of Burton's characteristic visuals.  Maybe the city was very slightly reminiscent of Nightmare Before Christmas.  But not really anything besides that.

Pretty stinkin' silly.  On my brother's Total Movie Value Scale, Cable with Dinner.

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Last modified: June 14, 2004
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