of the Apes
Mark Wahlberg, Tim Roth, Helena Bonham Carter Michael Clarke Duncan Kris Kristofferson
Estella Warren Paul Giamatti and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa
speaking? Gimme a show of hands...how many of you were secretly ecstatic over
the thought of A. Marky Mark, er, Mark Wahlberg (excuse me) all muddied
up running around a Tim Burton set and B. that they were even remaking
this accidental classic, which easily is near the top of America's Cheesiest Films
Of All Times list (right below Blackula, Killer Tomatoes and Jon Waters'
purposely cheesy farces of course). Me too!
For those too young to remember,
Planet of the Apes first appeared in 1968. It was a sensation with audiences
and panned by critics. The costumes were state-of-the-art for the times and the
sets were as other worldly as they could portray in a sixties Star Trek quazi-realism
Those who enjoyed the first version(s) even passed up the concession stand goodies
for fear of losing that comfy close-up seat. The suspense of what the apes
would look with all the modern gizmos the FX folks have at their disposal nowadays
was almost unbearable. Like with The Grinch's
recent successful transformation into 21st century-gadget- hoopla- infused- bing-
bam box-office magic, TPOA does not disappoint on that level.
the the rest of the film? Well, the plot is as deep as Green Eggs and Ham and
the "human" cast is about as exciting as an instructional video on an
anal polyp removal from the lower bowel of a brown field mouse, yet still, mad-director
Tim Burton left just enough camp to keep it, surprisingly, enjoyable.
story goes...Astronaut; Leo Davidson (Mark "softly spoken" Wahlberg)
is aboard a space station USS Oberon, training primates to play Astronaut. One
starry night he is told to send one of these Chimps out to research a menacing
energy field approaching fast on their starboard side.
"canary in the coal mine" never returns...So, Leo, bored with his mundane
duties jumps into a delta pod to rescue the fellow and, surprise, gets
transported through time to a place ruled by...
He crash lands safely
in an eerie swamp. But, before he can shake his banana dry, he is overrun by a
group of fear-for-their-lives types ricocheting through the forest being pursued
by dressed, orating, violent apes. Leo is swiftly trapped ( along with these ratty
anorexic Mad Max looking extras each with a perpetual glaze over their faces like
deer locked on headlights) and sent to market. The market is run by Limbo (brilliant
Paul Giamatti) a sleazy Orangutan creep.
and a boopsie faced tribe gal, Deana (Estella " be careful of bimbo typecasting
dear" Warren), meet in one of Limbo's human slave holding cells . She's smitten,
but he's focused on his personal inner dialog, his sequel, "Exit El Quicko
from the Planet Of The Apes."
end up working together and gather a few others including, human rights activist
girly ape Ari (Helena Bonham Carter). They all escape the city and head to "rendezvous"
with Leo's space colleagues who have been sending out a signal to him via his
space age transmitter he rescued from his sunken space pod. The humans hope Leo
is their savior fallen from the sky to save them from the mini-Kongs that suppress
them. Leo hopes his friends are waiting for him, just over the mountain range
fleeing party faces some pretty mean mother-apers en route to Shangri-La! One
ape in particular, General Thad, (Tim Roth) hates humans in a Hitler- outhern
plantation owner-circa 1800 way. He wants the filthy creatures (humans) completely
annihilated and is schmoozing with the ape senate to get his wish. Leo is just
what the nefarious Thad ordered when praying to their almighty Semos for a sign
the humans must all go. With Leo's frightening display of intelligence and back
bone, the senate will be scared bananaless into giving Thad the Marshal Law decree
he so desires.
Leo and his new tribal friends make it to the space command center before Thad's
wicked army finds and crushes them? Is Leo the god they have waited for all these
years? Could the last fight scene be tackier?
worry, I'm not ruining anything here for you...It's so telegraphed even G.W. Bush
would know the ending half way through. Okay, maybe right before the credits at
story is a tad blasé. You may find yourself adrift about the screen, looking
for something to busy your brain when Mark and crew aren't battling the Apes.
Which brings up a kind of humorous point of observation, Wahlberg's "Leo"
has like three sentences of dialog in a scene, then smacko, he's immediately in
primal combat again; like an odd ballet of film you watch and keep a mental metronome
swaying in your head
1-2-3 fight, 1-2-3 fight.
is really all about the visual treats; like watching intense thespian Tim Roth
bounce about like an extra at Ringling Bros. & Barnum Bailey Circus of the
Cruel in his cute little money, er, ape suit. Or Helena Bonham Carter, all made
up in ten pounds of latex, a far cry from the West End beauty she is, for sure.
Still a lady, even as an ape.
Then there's MM Wahlberg. His picture is
in Compton's Encyclopedia under "example of aMale Homo Sapiens " In
my version anyway
The man's body is, simply, dare I say, perfect. He's a
double cream serving of Pistachio Ice cream with a hidden layer of marshmallow
fluff. Scrumptious. Leo was a dull character so MM's signature "whisper"
delivery worked. I think I need a Boogie Nights fix...
has quite a few exciting moments. Enough to recommend it. Those nostalgic for
the original take heart there's still only one Cornelious (Roddy McDowall)
and this is not a replacement, it's just another look at a pretty wild concept
modernized for the new generation to enjoy.
Snack recommendation: Banana nut pound cake and Pistachio ice cream.
Blunt Aside: Danny Elfman, Tim Burtonski's favorite music man, is
back incahoots producing the film's score. As always, Elfman delivers a catchy,
flowing gently ominous orchestration of notes