In 2029, Captain Leo Davidson (Mark Wahlberg) crash-lands a space pod on an unknown planet. It isn't long before Leo discovers that a great deal of the population on the planet is none other than large talking apes. Worse yet, he discovers that humans are pets and slaves on the planet. It then becomes a fast-paced scenario as Leo rushes to find a way back to his crewmates in space and the origin of the human-like apes.
When I heard about the remake for the famous 1968 film, Planet of the Apes, it made me question why on earth they would do that in the first place. Tim Burton, known best for his dark-feeling direction on such films as The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Batman, and The Nightmare Before Christmas signed on to direct the film, ensuring a different film. The remake of the ape movie was originally called The Visitor, but was changed back to the original title during filming. While being given a hard time about remaking a movie that wasn't in need of being remade, Burton urged that it was merely a "reimagining" of the original. Well, without further ado, I give you my take on the 2001 "reimagining" of Planet of the Apes.
I don't remember the original. I'm just going to be honest. I remember the jaw-dropping ending,
I remember Charlton Heston and some tiny elements of the film, but I really don't remember much of
anything from the movie. So, considering how I'm probably the only "critic" world-wide who doesn't remember
the original, I'll give you my opinions of the film as a new take on an old story. First off, the effects
are the best money can buy, and the ape makeup is excellent to say the least. The acting is pretty good as well.
They took the opportunity to play and almost parody a lot of human/animal pet stereotypes. For example,
instead of the classic organ grinder man with little chimp, we briefly saw an organ grinder chimp with a midget
man. And like us, they also had their religious beliefs. But this is where I'm left unsure how I'm supposed
to process what they presented. The apes prayer grace over their food in one scene, praying to their ape god
who came and will come again. It sounded much a Christian prayer, but to an ape god. Blasphemous? Or just
a movie telling the story of apes believing in their own god? Later we also see one of the apes
praying to their idol and finally, they (possible SPOILER WARNING) believe at the end that their god has returned, but find out all they've been taught was a lie. Again, is this mocking Christianity or just an interesting twist on the culture of these ape-people?
Surprising to me, the film was mild in language, blood/gore, and sexual content. I should say, thankfully it was mild. What it isn't mild in is violence. There is a battle between apes and humans in the film that is very violent, but no blood/gore is seen. Only sexual content is supermodel Estella Warren shows some cleavage and we see two apes who look like they're getting ready for a sexual encounter (the female chimp starts dancing and making sounds like only an animal can), but they're interrupted before anything happens (or is shown). Blood/gore is kept only to some scrapes and cuts. We do see 2 non-gory dead apes underwater. We also see what looks like a dead, discolored human caged up. Language is also limited to some uses of "d*mn" and "h*ll" (as well as "J-sus").
The plot is also a lot simpler from what I remember, from what I've heard, and from what I can tell. While the original involved more human/ape interaction and struggle, this film seems to rush into Leo's exodus from the planet. While this isn't entirely a problem, in comparison to its predecessor, it may pale. However, the film does seem to include enough plot differences to carry itself along. And then, of course, we have the new "surprise ending." While I personally found it pretty interesting, it hasn't been well-received and is confusing considering the rest of the ending.
Overall, I thought the movie was pretty good. For a remake, especially one that didn't really need to be made, it was pretty good, and seems to have accomplished what it was set out to do. It's nothing all too extraordinary or brilliant, but 2001's Planet of the Apes is a decent modern re-telling of a classic sci-fi story and is a good, entertaining popcorn movie. Please read all the content details carefully.- John DiBiase (reviewed: 7/27/01)
Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.
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