Planet of the Apes (2001)

CGI is better than costumes.

After flying through a space “worm hole,” astronaut Leo Davidson (Mark Wahlberg) crashes on a planet where simians rule over humans. Aided and abetted by a sympathetic chimpanzee (Helena Bonham Carter), Davidson leads a small band of rebels against their captors.

Back in August when I watched ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’, I said it was a 100 times better than this 2001 piece of junk, but actually, this one isn’t so terrible to begin with.

Director Tim Burton is a guy who’s usually known for doing some crazy ish with his material, but here he doesn’t do anything real different with this material, instead of just gives us pretty good-looking visuals. The action is here and there but the problem that Burton runs into, is that it doesn’t really get off the ground and it feels like he just pushed this film to its ending without any real emotional connection or point about his story.

It’s kind of a shame considering how great of a director Burton can be, and if he didn’t direct this, I wouldn’t have noticed because there’s nothing really striking at all about this material that reminds me of Burton classics such as ‘Ed Wood’ or ‘Edward Scissorhands‘.

The script is also pretty terrible because the lines are just so incredibly cheesy to the point of where I was laughing, and when these “characters” aren’t spitting out corny one-liners, they are either growling, snarling, or making crazy little ape noises at each other. I liked how the plot is all new and taking a cool new twist on this plot, but they way it ended up and turned out, seems kind of disappointing because the script was kind of a real let-down.

However, I have to say that even though this can all be pretty lame, I actually enjoyed myself for the whole 2 hours of this flick. The plot moves along at a slick pace, and even though it sometimes falls into some boring spots, it still kept me interested. The action here is also pretty fun because there are actual ape-on-ape battles that actually are pretty fun to watch as well as some other cool moments to watch.

I also really liked the the visuals and the costumes that Burton supplied with this film because a lot of it looks really cool. The world of the Apes seems straight-out of the original and still looks pretty to look a. The costumes of all of the Apes that were done by Rick Baker were done very well, with a great deal of detail added to each character, but the real problem with the costumes is that these Apes just look so damn goofy. I mean they have these funny and little goofy faces where their teeth just show and they make these funny hissing noises, and instead of actually being horrifying they are actually pretty laughable but I guess the film really wasn’t going for any seriousness.

Marky Mark is one of my favorite actors, but his performance here as Leo Davidson is one I think he should try to forget. Wahlberg doesn’t really have the strength here to actually command this film and his lines are even worse. He does seem a little confused and with no idea what to do with this lead role, other than make scared faces and do his “signature voice”. Still, he’s the man.

Tim Roth actually turned down the role of Severus Snape to play Thade here, which is a real shame cause he could have really had such a bigger career with that role instead of this. Roth isn’t bad here, cause he’s actually pretty menacing, but his villainous character is so cartoony and cheesy that nothing really comes out as scary and more of just goofy. Helena Bonham Carter plays the nice ape, Ari, and does her usual crazy lady performance; Michael Clarke Duncan is loud and full of yelling as the black Ape, Attar; Paul Giamatti actually made me laugh as Limbo; and Estella Warren is pretty damn laughable with her performance as Daena. The cast is all OK, just nothing really special since the film doesn’t really take them all too seriously.

Consensus: Planet of the Apes is cheesy, poorly written, and filled with sub-par performances from the impressive cast, but it’s still an entertaining B-flick with great visuals, some fun action, and a feel of not taking itself too seriously which is good for any film about a world of apes.



  1. This could have been the end for Burton. Compare his pre-Apes career to his post-Apes career. He’s lucky to still be working as far as I’m concerned. Sweeney Todd and Big Fish were ok but I think we’ve lost the director of Batman, Beetlejuice and Scossorhands. Still I remember finding Apes vaguely entertaining, Roth is good and the apes running looks cool but that ending ‘twist’ is absolutely dreadful. Good review though I’d have probably given it 4/10 max!

  2. No, I think costumes and makeup are better than CGI because their not as dated as CGI technology.

    Still, this is one of the worst films I’ve seen and it’s the worst thing Tim Burton has done. Anything that is written by Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal together is bad. These are the guys who wrote the screenplay for that fourth “Superman” movie where Superman tries to get rid of nukes.

    • Hahah oh that was terrible! I didn’t hate this as much but I will say that it is pretty weak compared to a lot of Burton’s other flicks. Thanks Steve!

  3. Poor Marky Mark! He has a tendancy to either choose to do absolutely amazing films (The Departed, The Fighter) or absolute drivel like this.

    This film is best left utterly forgotten!

  4. My tendency is to prefer practical effects over CGI but CGI also be equally as good. I alway enjoy Burtons work more when he came up with his own story instead of rehashing another persons work without so much as a tip of the hat. Good review!

  5. OH you did this to yourself Dan:P Aside from this being just a lame remake it also had a lame story and for as much money as they spent on this, it still felt like a TV production. I for one liked the practical effects but you’re right the writing was terrible and therefore didn’t help seel the characters or endear them to us in anyway…I think the remake of The Time Machine suffered in this same way.

    Plus if the movie does such a horrible job at dealing with time travel that they have to issue an infocard in the DVD case to try and apologize/explain how nonsensical and indiscernible the timeline was, maybe they should have spent a little more time figuring that out in the beginning. Hell, even Burton doesn’t know how the ending could have possibly turned out the way it did. Sheesh:P

  6. I didn’t know Tim Roth was in the running to be Prof Snape, cool fun fact there…

    I actually don’t have a problem with the apes being men in suits and make-up, they do look goofy, but the Planet of the Apes movies have always been goofy anyway…

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