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PLANET OF THE APES

2001 REMAKE


CAST:  Mark Wahlberg (Leo Davidson), Tim Roth (General Thade), Helena Bonham Carter (Ari), Michael Clarke Duncan (Attar), Krist Kristofferson (Kurabi), Estalla Warren (Daena), Paul Giamatti (Limbo), Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Krull), Erick Avari (Tival), Like Eberl (Birn), Evan Dexter Parke (Gunnar), Freda Foh Shen (Bon), Glenn Shadix (Senator Nado), Lisa Marie (Nova), Charlton Heston (Zaius/Thade's Father), David Warner (Senator Sandar).

Written by: William Broyles, Jr.

STORY:  

At an unknown point in the future, an astronaut named Leo is assigned to the Oberon, a far off space station that conducts experiments with chimpanzees who have been trained to pilot long-ranged space pods. After an accident, Leo pursues his chimpanzee trainee, Pericles, who is lost after exploring a dangerous electromagnetic storm. Through a freak set of circumstances, Leo is hurled forward in time where he crashes on an unknown planet ruled by apes.

As in the 1968 original, the astronaut is thrown in with primitive humans who are then captured and taken to Ape City by intelligent gorillas on horseback and chimpanzees running on all fours. All of the humans are sold as slaves.
Leo soon encounters Ari, a female ape who is an advocate for "human" rights. She believes that humans deserve to be treated more as equals to apes. Ari buys the fallen astronaut and his female companion as slaves in her father's house.

General Thade, the leader of Ape military forces, regards the slaves with disdain. Leo later picks the lock on his cage and escapes with a group of humans. Ari spots them escaping and accompanies them with her protector, a fierce ape named Krull. Ari finds is eager to help Leo because she finds him fascinating. Meanwhile, General Thade believes that Ari has been kidnapped by the humans and uses the situation to gain absolute power as dictator of Ape City. He leads the Ape armies to the Forbidden Zone where Leo, Ari, and many humans have gathered.

Inside the Forbidden Zone, Leo discovers the wreckage of his space station. According to the ship's logs, the wreckage has stood there for thousands of years. The Oberon's log reveals that the apes onboard organized a mutiny and took control of the vessel after it crashed. The survivors of the struggle left the ship and their descendants are the apes and humans that surround Leo. Ape forces soon arrive. Leo prepares the make a "last stand" at the wreckage. When the Ape army surges forward, Leo ignites the fuel inside the ship which erupts in a huge blast of flame that devastates the first wave of ape warriors. General Thade leads and second wave forward and engages the humans in battle.

The Apes tear through the human's defences, slaughtering them. When all seems lost, a vessel suddenly descends from the sky and lands. All watch the craft in stunned silence except for Leo, who goes forward to embrace the pilot. Its Pericles, the original chimp astronaut that Leo originally tried to rescue. Pericles was hurled further in time than Leo and just now arrived. The apes interpret his arrival as the arrival of Semos, the first chimpanzee who is their god. They bow, and hostilities between humans and apes cease.

Unwilling to give up his control, General Thade chases Pericles into the Oberon. Leo rushes after them. Through the scuffle, General Thade becomes trapped in a small room unable to escape.

Leo returns to the newly arrived space pod and uses it to travel back in time. He emerges at the Washington DC mall, before the Lincoln Memorial. However, all is not well. When he examines the famous marble statue, he discovers that it is actually a monument in honor of General Thade. A swarm of Ape police officers and reporters descend on Leo, who wonders just what has happened to his world.

COMMENT:  Tim Burton, never one to accurately duplicate any traditional story, retold the famous Planet of the Apes in a very loosely-based 2001 remake. The negotiations that allowed Burton to make another "Apes" movie were long and there were many competitors, including James Cameron and Oliver Stone. Fox hoped the resurgence of its Star Wars property, with the upcoming release of Star Wars: "Attack of the Clones", would push a new Apes movie to a box office success. Even more ambitious, they engaged Burton's concept primarily to also pave a roadway to remake the dormant Aliens series, whose last two films, Alien 3 and Alien 4 practically killed what appeared to be a highly successful series. Fox hoped a complete remake would launch Aliens into a new series of hits. Planet of the Apes was to provide the proof that such a concept was feasible.

Fox didn't enjoy that level of success. Despite widespread studio claims that the script was highly praised within Fox and "loved by everyone who read it", actual movie audiences had a very different reaction. Most found the movie slow, needlessly rewalking the insides of Ape City which proved to be quite a bit similar to the original 1968 version. Although the costuming and makeup by Stan Winston and computer generated effects were far superior to the props and visuals in the 1968 original, the first half of the film offered very, very little for fans of the original series. The film was supposed to provide a far more humanistic view that the first series. It did little towards that end, merely replacing one set of actors with another and including one original actor, Charleton Heston, in a cameo role playing the aging Zaius.

The second half of the film provided a fair amount of action but is so far removed from the first as to practically make it a separate film. In fact, the entire movie would have worked better as a conflict occurring sometime after the 1973 Battle for the Planet of the Apes rather than the present setting. Ironically, the surprise ending, apparently the core of the need to do a remake, was the most disliked portion of the film for those who saw it. Sadly, this was probably the most faithful portion of the film as it closely matched the end of Pierre Boulle's 1963 novel. Since few were aware of the variances in the book, the ending wasn't accepted by the majority of fans. Unlike the original 1968 ending, where Taylor stares in anger at the ruins of the Statue of Liberty, the face of General Thade in a duplicate of the Lincoln Memorial suggests nothing less than a complete alternate universe where Apes were always dominant.
 

- written by Sandy