DID A MONKEY WRITE THE NEW “PLANET OF THE APES”?

The CRITIC DOCTOR EXAMINES: Dave Forsmark (Credo), Maitland McDonagh (TV Guide), Victoria Alexander (filmsinreview.com), Dustin Putman (themovieboy.com), Michæl Wilmington (Chicago Tribune), Chris Gore (filmthreat.com), Stephanie Zacharek (salon.com), Brian McTavish (Kansas City Star), Tom Block (culturevulture.net), Staci Layne Wilson (staciwilson.com) ^ * * out of 4 stars (PG-13)
When I heard a remake of Planet of the Apes was coming out, I thought to myself: Why do we need a remake? I’m still asking the same question. Planet of the Apes is about a space pilot named Leo (Mark Wahlberg) who enters a space storm in attempt to rescue a trained monkey flying a space shuttle. Leo disappears and finds himself crashed on a planet ruled by brutal apes that speak English and capture human inhabitants to be used as pets or slaves.
Maitland McDonagh (TV Guide) said, “The decision to loose the tongues of the ape planet’s humans (they were mute in the original) undermines the contrast that lies at the heart of the story’s power: Civilized apes vs. beast-like men.” ^ Agreed. In the original film, it shocked the apes when a human first spoke words. It’d be like hearing your own dog suddenly say, “I’m hungry!” In this movie, humans speak among apes as if it were commonplace, yet humans are pets. The rest of the film is equally shallow – especially the end.
Victoria Alexander (filmsinreview.com) said, “The story doesn’t collapse and, for me, the denouement at the end equals the shock value of the 1968 classic. Damn!” ^ For the love of God, Victoria! The shock value is quite the opposite. The original movie’s ending shocked us in a logical way – leaving you with, “Oh, I get it now. Wow.” This new version is so awful that you sit in your seat shocked thinking, “Damn!” Most film critics got it right:
— “The second twist appears at the very end, and it is almost enraging in how little sense it actually makes. Illogical, but also pointless.” Dustin Putman (themovieboy.com) ^ — “And the new surprise ending doesn’t carry the same satisfying jolt of the first; in fact, it’s so illogical and off the wall that it may turn some audiences off.” Michæl Wilmington (Chicago Tribune) ^ — “As for the much talked about ending, it’s merely ridiculous and feels tacked on.” Chris Gore (filmthreat.com) ^ — “By the time the picture rattled to its confusing and badly conceived ending, I couldn’t help wishing it had somehow added up to more.” Stephanie Zacharek (salon.com) ^ — “One wonders if this warped wrap-up is even supposed to make sense.” Brian McTavish (Kansas City Star)
Michæl Wilmington said, “Of all this summer’s hot-buttered-popcorn movies so far, ‘Planet of the Apes’ is my favorite. It’s a wanna-be blockbuster with refreshing energy.” Uh, I think I just lost my appetite for hot-buttered popcorn. This new “Planet of the Apes” version is not a blockbuster. It belongs in Blockbuster. The main problem is its story.
Tom Block (culturevulture.net) said, “Burton and his screenwriters never make a convincing case why such cornball material should be revisited.” Dave Forsmark (Credo) said, “Burton calls this a ‘re-imagining’ rather than a remake. Unfortunately, it shows little imagination.”
They’re right! Maybe director Tim Burton should have continued the original series, using an entirely different theme. Better yet, I’d rather buy a ticket to watch a re-mastered version of the original. Chris Gore said, “Planet of the Apes 2001 has to have one of the all-time worst scripts for a sci-fi action movie ever.” Gore may be right. However, Victoria Alexander contends, “The screenwriters, William Broyes, Jr. and Lawrence Konner & Mark Rosenthal (said to have rewritten most of it on set), should be singled out for their cleverness and attention to detail.” The writers should be singled out, but not for their “cleverness” or “attention to detail.” The fact that most of the script was re-written on the set reveals one thing: The apes not only speak English – they write!
Staci Layne Wilson (staciwilson.com) summed the film up best: “Damn dirty remakes!” Though some film critics liked watching Burton’s Planet of the Apes, I’d rather go to the zoo.
–CRITIC DOCTOR
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Posted on August 10, 2001 in Features by
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