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Tim Burtonís Planet of the Apes
By Bert Ehrmann
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Fort Wayne Reader
There was a 28 year gap between the last of the original Planet of the Apes movies in the 1970s and the very first remake, but I think a lot of people forget that the first remake wasnít the fabulous Rise of the Planet of the Apes in 2011; it was instead Tim Burtonís Planet of the Apes in 2001.
Burtonís movie was savaged by critics and fans alike, especially with its time-bending final scene that left movie-goers scratching their heads as they left the theater. I didnít much care for Burtonís Planet of the Apes the first time I saw it either ó though admittedly the first time I saw it was via VHS on a little 13Ē TV so it wasnít the most optimal experience to begin with. But still, after I saw Burtonís Planet of the Apes 16 years ago I never really checked out the movie again until a few weeks ago when I caught it on cable. I think watching it now without a lot of the negativity that was swirling around the movie back then let me see it in a different light. While Burtonís Planet of the Apes isnít his best movie, itís not the worst Planet of the Apes movie either.
In fact, itís kinda good.
While the most recent Apes movies are sort of reverse sequels/not quite prequels to the original 1960s and 1970s movies, Burtonís Planet of the Apes is a remake of the original film. There were attempts at rebooting the Apes franchise in the 1980s and 1990s, the most famous example of which would have starred Arnold Schwarzenegger in the title role with Oliver Stone ó yes, that Oliver Stone ó directing. But for whatever reason it wasnít until 2001 and Burtonís film that the apes would return to the big screen.
Here, astronaut Leo Davidson (Mark Wahlberg) finds himself marooned on a weird planet where apes are the dominant species and mankind are seen by them as pests. Davidson finds help from ape Ari (Helena Bonham Carter) who go on the run from the evil General Thade (Tim Roth) who wants Davidson dead.
Which is essentially the plot of the first 1968 Planet of the Apes movie that starred Charlton Heston, but there is one big difference here between the 1968 Apes and the 2001 version ó the direction of Tim Burton.
Honestly, Burton isnít given enough credit these days for the films that heís directed. Or, at the very least, heíll be a director when we one day look back at his career and tremble at how good it was and how little respect he got for his work when it was released.
To name a few, Burton directed the greatest superhero film of all time Batman in a time when superhero movies were considered kidís stuff. He directed Beetlejuice, a movie so good itís still relatable 30 years later. And he directed Big Fish a movie Iíve only been able to stand watching once, because Iím afraid if I ever watch it again Iíll spend most of the movie lost in emotions.
Oh, and he also directed that Planet of the Apes movie too.
Now, Planet of the Apes isnít Burtonís best movie, but itís still a solid film. Plus, mostly known as a horror director, itís one of only two sci-fi movies Burton has directed, the other being Mars Attacks. For that reason alone I think fans of the genre should have a special place in their hearts for this film. Burtonís Planet of the Apes has all his weird and wonderful stylings from the design of the apes costumes and villages to the weird and wonderful headgear the apes wear in this film.
I might have not liked the movie at the time of release but I sure did like the posters from it that focused on the style of the movie ó I ended up buying several of them back then.
Burtonís Planet of the Apes never lived up to its potential and barely made back its budget at the box office. Which would mean the franchise would go dormant for another decade before it would be rebooted again with Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Now, the third movie of that series War for the Planet of the Apes is out July 14 thatís supposedly the finale to that franchise.
It might be a while for Burton to return to sci-fi. His next movie is supposed to be a live-action remake of the animated film Dumbo then Beetlejuice 2.