Okay, I’m ready. I have finally seen Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes. Let’s get this over with.
The original 1968 Planet of the Apes is a classic, and always will be. It was new for the time, and was an extremely fresh and exciting look at the future world. Then you have the countless sequels (none of which I have seen), the prequels (Rise and Dawn), and this. Is this a good film? No. Not at all. This isn’t even hilariously bad like Batman & Robin (1997). It’s just a flat-out terrible film, and a really bad attempt at remakes. I’m usually on the side of remakes. They have proven on multiple occasions that they can do the original justice, and sometimes even be better than their source material. Examples of that are The Jungle Book (2016), The Ring (2002), Fright Night (2011), and The Fly (1986). Many have proven just the opposite: that some films are better left untouched. John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) is a horror classic, but back in 2007 Rob Zombie had to ruin it. This film surely fits in that latter category.
Let’s talk about the good in Planet of the Apes, because there is no denying that there is some. Unfortunately, the good is not related to what matters most: the story, characters, writing, and action. The costume design (once again done by the fantastic Colleen Atwood) is spot-on. It is done very, very, well and both the apes’ and humans’ costumes are vibrant against the film’s setting. Even the environments are beautiful, well-designed, and colorful. The makeup and the way the apes look is also very well done.
However, the rest of the film is terrible. The script is the worst. 30 years ago, this film would’ve been great, but this is supposed to be a serious film, and the way it is presented doesn’t allow it to be taken seriously. The dialogue is hilariously bad, and cheesy. This looks like a film that should’ve been made in the 80’s, thanks to its terrible acting and cheesy ending, as well as the horrible jokes that are meant to deliver but fail to send.
The action is dull and boring, colorless and uninventive. It’s nothing that hasn’t been seen before, and Burton has proven on numerous occasions that he can do far better. A bunch of monkeys jumping around like frogs and hitting each other isn’t appealing anymore, and while it may have worked three decades ago, it certainly doesn’t now. The “twist” ending is ridiculous, and the shot of General Thade’s head where Lincoln’s should be. I mean, really? The storytelling is disjointed and barely makes any sense throughout the film’s 2-hour run time.
The characters are also insanely bland, acting as clichés for the story. Mark Wahlberg is, of course, the male action hero, while Estella Warren plays the blonde who just acts as a love interest for our hero, barely doing anything at all. Helena Bonham Carter’s ape character is the one person that doesn’t accept her role in society and wants to free the humans. None of these have any major development and are simply used as plot devices to move the story forward instead of characters you can actually care for.
Overall, Planet of the Apes is one of Burton’s worst films. With terrible writing, acting, characters, action, and story, don’t bother watching this garbage. It’s not worth your time. I’m going to give Planet of the Apes a D–.
Planet of the Apes stars Mark Wahlberg, Tim Roth, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Clarke Duncan, Paul Giamatti, Estella Warren. Directed by Tim Burton.