Astronaut Leo Davidson (Mark Wahlberg) is part of a space station crew that, in the year 2029, is conducting experiments in training genetically engineered chimps to perform complex away missions. When Leo's chimp disappears into a worm hole, Leo unadvisedly goes after him, ending up in a parallel world in which the monkeys are the keepers and humans are traded and caged like animals. It's a horrifying place, and the whole atmosphere, colored by Burton's direction and Rick Baker's incredible special effects makeup, is charged with terror. Leo becomes a heroic figure in the eyes of his defeated human brethren, and he puts his trust--and his hope for escape--in Ari (Helena Bonham Carter), a forward-thinking ape who believes in human rights. But Leo has formidable opponents in Thade (Tim Roth) and Attar (Michael Clark Duncan), two power-hungry, testosterone-charged apes who wish to rid the planet of humans altogether.
 

3
A disappointing and conservative remake.

In the year 2029, Captain Leo Davidson (Mark Wahlberg) is a member of a space probe which uses trained monkeys for flights into unchartered areas of the universe. On one such flight, Davidson's chimp disappears and, against orders, Davidson goes after him, crashlanding on a strange planet on which, he soon discovers, apes are the dominant species and human beings are their slaves. One of the most powerful apes is Thade (Tim Roth) a rabid human-hater ambitious for power. Davidson breaks out of his prison accompanied by a handful of humans and the sympathetic Ari, Helena Bonham-Carter.

You'd have thought that Tim Burton's distinctively skewed vision would be perfect for a remake of the 1968 Franklin Schaffner film which spawned several sequels, but the new Planet Of The Apes is quite disappointing. Mark Wahlberg really doesn't cut it as an action hero, the ape makeup isn't all that much of advance on the earlier films, and the political correctness which keeps stressing how the humans are mistreated by the apes, is very heavy handed. There are flashes of humour, the occasional funny line, and an excellent uncredited cameo – plus a different surprise ending from the conclusion the first time around. But it all adds up to surprisingly little.

Comments from Margaret Pomeranz: Tim Burton's 're-imaging' of Planet of the Apes is surprisingly conservative, given the history of the filmmaker. He plays it safe. It must be intimidating to take on a project like this, treading in the footsteps of such a well-known film, plus sequels and television spin-offs. How far do you go from the original if you're not just planning a remake? A lot further than the often smug cuteness served up by Burton one hoped.

However, if the concept leaves something to be desired, the execution is often exciting. Burton has significant visual skills and his planet is murky and mist-shrouded, his apes a believable species. It would take an actor like Tim Roth to burst out of the skin of the villain, General Thade and Helena Bonham Carter is refreshingly independent-minded and actually quite pretty as Ari.

Planet of the Apes
is fun at times, occasionally thrilling, but never achieving another dimension, not quite achieving the penetration required for a new millennium as the original did for the late sixties.

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