PLANET OF THE APES
Review by Gordon Justesen
Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Tim
Roth, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Clarke Duncan, Estella Warren, Paul Giamatti
Director: Tim Burton
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1 Surround, Spanish Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Features: See Review
Length: 124 Minutes
Release Date: November 20, 2001
“I will stop him, father.”
“DAMN THEM ALL TO HELL!!”
Our generation has had it’s share of remakes of popular
films, from everything to the upcoming star filled Ocean’s Eleven to
the dreadful shot by shot remake of Psycho. But few such remakes can
master the level of wonder that visionary genius Tim Burton has applied to his
re-imagining of Planet of the Apes. The original Planet was
perhaps the most popular science fiction franchise prior to Star Wars,
and for a movie made in the late 60s, it took special make up effects to a whole
new level, and Burton has evolved on that notion, creating an entire atmosphere
of savage apes that look real in every essence of the word. It’s hard to
believe for a second that there are actually human actors underneath the make
up. All credit should go to Burton.
I strongly feel that no other director could have pulled off what he did.
Replacing Charlton Heston, who pops up in an unexpected
part in this version, is Mark Wahlberg as Capt. Leo Davidson. While pursuing a
space chimp who has abandoned his space station, Leo gets trapped in a
vortex-like structure, and immediately crash lands on a planet that is run by
vicious apes who capture humans who are then subjected to slave labor for life.
The apes are led by the bloodthirsty, human despising General Thade, played with
vicious brilliance by Tim Roth who really deserves some Oscar attention for his
work here. Other key ape characters are Thade’s second in command, Attar
(Michael Clarke Duncan), slave trader Limbo (a perfectly cast Paul Giamatti),
and military executive Krull (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa).
The only outcast of the ape race is that of Ari (Helena
Bonham Carter), daughter of a senator, who is in favor of learning from the
humans instead of committing torture. She
carries one of the movie’s best lines when replying to a comment about humans
possibly carrying diseases, “How would we know, when the army burns the bodies
before they’re examined?” Ari senses something different in Leo, and once he
and a few other humans escape from captivity, she, along with two other apes
against their will, form an army of their own to help execute a backlash against
Thade and his army.
Like all Tim Burton movies, the star of this movie is the look. Burton is one director who always promises a treat for the eyes, as perfectly demonstrated in Batman, Edward Scissorhands, and Sleepy Hollow. For Planet of the Apes, Burton outdoes himself with glorious visuals. He, along with production designer Rick Henrichs (Sleepy Hollow), has given the apes an atmosphere that has a look any movie lover would be astounded by. Another important aspect to credit immensely is the make up by the renowned, Oscar winning Rick Baker, who outdoes himself as well with what must have been the most time consuming, patience consuming make up work anyone had to perform. And as always, whenever Tim Burton is directing a movie, Danny Elfman will be there to give it a pulse pounding score, which he does here once again.
One kick I always get out of the movie on every viewing is
the surprise ending, which many were either puzzled or disappointed by. I, on
the other hand, always get a jolt out of it, and I find it to be wonderfully
executed. I won’t spoil any details except to say that a sequel will
definitely be in the works, and if Burton is at the helm, I can’t wait to see
What a year this has been for Fox. In the few weeks since
they made a stellar disc for Star Wars Episode I, they have fashioned
together what is not only one of the greatest looking discs ever, but one of
this year’s most outstanding looking DVDs you will find on the market. Right
from frame one in outer space, the picture quality explodes with rich crispness
and vibrant colorization. Dark settings and bright settings alike are
wonderfully displayed in outstanding digital form. It’s a remarkable looking
disc, in addition to being just about what one would expect a Tim Burton movie
to look like on DVD.
Fox’s 5.1 audio ranks as
one of the most astounding audio tracks I’ve ever heard on any movie, and is
thus far my choice for top audio transfer of 2001. Every single sound in the
movie, from Danny Elfman’s score, to distinct background noises, to explosions
seems to be picked up in the clearest shape and form. In numerous scenes, apes
leap from area to area, which alone provides superb sound quality. I can’t
rave about this audio transfer enough except to say that anyone who buys this
disc will be impressed with the knockout quality.
To perfectly define it,
Fox has gone ape with these extras, fashioning up a loaded two disc set loaded
with the longest list of extras to make anyone go ape wild.
Starting off on disc 1, we have an enhanced viewing mode
that includes behind the scenes snippets of specific scenes as the movie is
playing. That alone is a treat, in this option that seems to rival the enhanced
viewing feature that New Line carries in its Infinifilm series. Also included
are two audio commentaries, one by Tim Burton, and the other, an isolated score
commentary by Danny Elfman.
On disc 2, there seven individual featurettes, which make
up about an hour and forty five minutes alone, and that’s just on the making
of the film! Also featured are five extended scenes, a multi-angle scene
analysis, a concept art gallery, a music video for Paul Oakenfeld’s remix of
“Rule the Planet”, a trailers and television spots gallery, and DVD-Rom
Also included, in some if not all, is a Limited Edition Planet of the Apes CD-Rom, which features more behind the scenes footage and interviews.