Reviewer's Rating 3 out of 5   User Rating 3 out of 5
Planet of the Apes (2001)

The original "Planet of the Apes" films were as terrifying apocalyptic and serious as you could get considering the silly-putty chimp make-up that several of its stars had to grapple with. Strangely, Tim Burton's remake is almost exactly the opposite - it's a lightweight, slight movie which only looks savagely convincing.

The space program in the year 2029 uses genetically engineered chimps instead of humans to conduct particularly dangerous scouting missions. But when Leo Davidson attempts to rescue a chimp lost in a space-time storm, his pod is damaged and he crashlands on a strange alien world where apes rule and humans are kept as slaves.

Thankfully, the plot is different enough from the original to stop it being a complete retread. And, aided by stunning set and make-up design, "Planet of the Apes" is convincing enough to portray a truly terrifying ape regime that has all the splendour and power of Ancient Rome or the Mongol hordes.

The performances are impressive as well. Tim Roth is totally convincing as the malevolent General Thade and Helena Bonham Carter brings an astonishing depth of character to the human-sympathiser Ari.

Unfortunately, the film's intelligence and urgency is undercut by Apes-franchise in-jokes and comedy ape characters. Particularly embarrassing is the slave owning Orang-utang who grimaces around the movie like Jim Carrey's "The Grinch".

But it is the plot's twists and turns that make the film merely average. While the origins of man and ape on the planet might come as a shock, the 'monkey ex machina' and final out-of-nowhere conclusion may well leave you puzzled rather than stunned for days afterwards.

Check out our cool Apes mini-site, find out what Newsnight have to say about the movie, and visit the official website.

End Credits

Director: Tim Burton

Writer: William Broyles Jr, Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal

Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Tim Roth, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Clarke Duncan, Kris Kristofferson, Estella Warren, Charlton Heston

Genre: Science Fiction

Length: 120 minutes

Cinema: 17 August 2001

Country: USA

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