Sometimes, films are unjustly judged. Other times, popular opinion needs to be challenged. Either way, this content will likely be unpopular.
Tim Burton’s remake of sci-fi classic is something that, on paper, should work tremendously. Burton is a celebrated (and quirky) filmmaker, and the cast of his 2001 Planet of the Apes film is truly something to behold: Mark Wahlberg, Helena Bonham Carter, Tim Roth, Michael Clarke Duncan, Kris Kristofferson, Paul Giamatti, and David Warner make for a truly talented and varied cast that are capable of capturing multiple genres.
However, the result is far less appealing than it should have been.
Despite being over two decades old, Planet of the Apes still looks great. Its visual effects use minimal CGI, meaning that its general aesthetic has aged relatively well, and it’s clear that no expense was spared on set and costume design. However, other than being visually impressive, there’s very little Burton’s film offers the franchise (or even generally).
The film starts out as a cheap rehash of the original sci-fi classic, and then soon reveals itself to be a cheap rework, instead. It needlessly flips certain story elements from the original in the vain attempt to appear unique – something which is remarkably ambitious, given that they used the exact same title.
From there, its plot gets more and more tedious, being simultaneously easy to follow and too convoluted to be even remotely interesting. A few not-so-shocking reveals explain the “mysteries” that make up the film’s plot (apparently just an excuse for Wahlberg to exercise his trademarked look of profound confusion).
However, it’s in the film’s final scenes – which seem tacked on from a different movie with the same actors in ape prosthetics – that Planet of the Apes really takes a turn, delivering one of the most confusing and pointless ending twists without barely a crumb of context.
Had Burton’s Planet of the Apes been more interesting throughout, its final twist might have seemed intriguing. Or, had a little more context been offered, it might have provoked the studio to push for a sequel. As it is, the film’s ending essentially reduced it to a punchline, and it remains the black sheep of the Planet of the Apes franchise – an outlier, a strange, forgotten relic lost between the two enjoyable series of films that make up the real franchise.
Summary: Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes lacks any substantial appeal beyond its solid visual effects – and even that is almost entirely ruined by its ridiculous climax.
Highlight: The scenes involving Pericles the chimpanzee are by far the best acted, and the only ones likely to elicit anything other than confusion as deep as Mark Wahlberg’s.