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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Science Fiction > Planet Of The Apes (2001/Blu-ray)

Planet Of The Apes (2001/Blu-ray)


Picture: B     Sound: B+     Extras: C-     Film: D



For years, Fox tried to revive the Planet Of The Apes franchise as much as Warner recently had for Superman.  There had been several interesting screenplay drafts, as well as some interesting names attached to a potential revival, but things kept not working out.  Eventually, Fox seemed to throw in the towel somewhat and gave the project to an unlikely director, Tim Burton.  He was known for having hits, but nothing one would think of as thinking Science Fiction.


A feature was finally greenlighted with Mark Wahlberg as the main astronaut, though not playing the Charlton Heston role from the original film.  Heston would show up as an ape in an ill-advised cameo and that was just the tip of how ill-advised this remake would be.  After Wahlberg’s character arrives and goers into the expected shock seeing talking, advanced apes, the action begins…


Unfortunately, that action is boring and much noisier than narrative.  Tim Roth and Michael Clark Duncan play evil apes, while Helena Bonham Carter is the Zira-like good ape.  The William Boyles Jr./Lawrence Konner/Mark Rosenthal screenplay likely had additional writers and was such a wreck that as the film was being test marketed to death at the last minute, alternate endings were being shot only a few weeks before the theatrical release date.  The film lands up feeling even more mechanical than that.


Burton later admitted he was not interested in the material and when that happens, Burton becomes a hack, just moving things along instead of directing and creating at his best.  In many ways, this is the worst film he will ever make and it was a while before he directed anything again.  This gives Wahlberg no direction and he lands up whining his way through this mess, while Estella Parsons (as a Nova-like character), Paul Giamatti (as another ape) and Kris Kristofferson are also all cast in vain.


There are also the space ships that look like electric shavers, Rick Baker wasting his time badly updating the groundbreaking original make-up designs, making them as uninnovative as possible.  There is the choppy feel of the editing and a two-hour film that runs on forever and says nothing.  If Fox thought they were going to have a hit by skirting the franchise’s classic handling of issues like race, class, evolution and humanity, they were sadly mistaken.  The resulting film joins The Avengers as one of the worst revivals of all time.  Instead of a vibrant new franchise, this bombed like the Godzilla revival and no sequels followed.


Wahlberg was caught up in a cycle of really bad remakes, but remarkably, no one’s career was ruined too badly (except the writers, with Boyles doing decent War genre work) and all who survived this mess were very lucky.  Looked at six years later, this is a huge embarrassment and even huger missed opportunity.  One of these days, there will be a book on all the versions that did not get made and we bet all of them will seem ingenious as compared to the final product here.  Burton’s Planet Of The Apes is one of the all-time big budget remake disasters.


The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital MPEG-2 @ 18 MBPS High Definition image is nothing to get excited about either.  Besides the dark, tired, would-be semi-gothic look in the production design and said approach by cinematographer Philippe Rousselot, A.F.C., A.S.C., in what is his some of his poorest work, this looks like an older HD transfer with some tweaking that looks like the telecine artist was still thinking DVD.  Some edge enhancement is part of the trouble.  This looks only marginally better than the surprisingly weak DVD when all is said and done.


The DTS HD Master Audio lossless 192kHz/24-bit 5.1 mix is should have also been a winner, but despite undeniable sonics and clarity in the better action scenes, it is also one of the most obnoxious mixes in the Action or Science Fiction genre in years.  Despite the simple stereo or mono of the previous films and TV shows, they all had better music (Danny Elfman turns in one of the most pompous scores of his career, always blasting and announcing the “importance” of the film and his score to no avail) and more interesting sound editing.  Here, all we get is that obnoxious music, sound effects that are too self-impressed and a new record for most growling in cinema history.


Yes, the Apes growl their way through this film so much, you’d think you were at an amusement park.  It also shows just how bad the dialogue was to begin with.  The best DTS HD chip upcoming is likely to make this even more annoying.  As for extras, Burton’s audio commentary is laughable but not as obnoxious as the growls and you get the original theatrical trailer in HD.


If you want to get to the real gems of the franchise or wash your brain of this wreck, try the original five films and two underrated TV series from the 1970s.  You can check out our thorough coverage at the following links as we wait for the original series to hit Blu-ray:


1968 35th Anniversary Edition



Legacy Collection



Beneath The Planet Of The Apes Limited Edition CD Soundtrack



Conquest Of/Battle For The Planet Of The Apes Limited Edition CD Soundtrack



1974 Live-Action TV Series



1975 Animated TV Series




-   Nicholas Sheffo


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