Planet of the Apes (2001)

Genres - Adventure, Science Fiction  |   Sub-Genres - Adventure Drama, Sci-Fi Action  |   Release Date - Jul 27, 2001 (USA)  |   Run Time - 119 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Review by Paul Durica

Perhaps the best way to evaluate Tim Burton's "re-imagining" of the science fiction classic Planet of the Apes is to regard it as a product of its time. Despite occasional accusations of being dated, the 1968 original transcends the cinematic trends of its era and continues to find a new and appreciative audience. Whether the same will be said of Burton's interpretation remains to be seen. Whereas the 1968 film needed the marketing skill of producer Arthur P. Jacobs and the star power of Charlton Heston to ensure financial success, the 2001 incarnation relies upon its status as a summer blockbuster, verified by record earnings. As a blockbuster, the film possesses the swift plot, special effects, and action sequences that are requisites for this kind of film. Along with verbal and scenic references to the original, Heston makes an appearance as the chimpanzee father of the villainous Thade (Tim Roth) and, appropriately, keeper of the apes' past. These acts of homage seem out of context, but perhaps this is for the best since Burton is attempting to create a whole new planet. As with the original film, Burton's Apes will probably be best remembered for its makeup and set design. Makeup artist Rick Baker, who has some experience with cinematic primates (having worked on the 1976 King Kong remake and Gorillas in the Mist), achieves a refreshing three-dimensional reality in an age dependent upon computer enhancement. Set designer John Dexter creates a vine-laden Ankhor Wat metropolis, seen briefly as the film speeds along, for the intelligent simians. Ape City also seems the place where Tim Burton appears most comfortable, achieving the whimsy and fantasy memorable in earlier efforts like Edward Scissorhands and Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. An ending termed "thoughtful" by producer Richard Zanuck replaces the original's twist but seems to create only confusion.