PLANET OF THE APES
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.
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