Planet of the Apes

"Anybody want to buy some Aspirin?"

- Paul Giamatti as Limbo-best line from the movie?

You may need some after this film. The DTS THX soundtrack pounds and when the THX logo animation got some applause from the audience I knew the crowd was psyched for a new Tim Burton flick. Burton paints a fantastic world of amazing apes and ho hum humans. Rick Baker does his makeup magic. Long time Burton player Danny Elfman provides a chest thumping score with a superb Paul Oakenfold remix at the end credits that had me stay for their duration.

For those new the to Ape movies, this should be a pleasing picture with just enough action to sate the summer appetites. I can barely remember the old flicks myself, except for flickers of Heston's ham it up school of acting. His brief presence as the dying father of human hating General Thade doesn't do much to diminish this. It would have been great fun if the Thade looked at the camera and asked if we could get a better actor in a reverse cameo nod to Wayne's World 2. But that would break the third wall and might be seen as a risk. Hell, the movie looks at risks and then makes like Sir Launcelot. So if you want to continue reading this, you are risking running into spoilers. You have been warned.

That wasn't so hard. A simple warning, courteous cautionary clue, a freaking hint! Matt Drudge you damn dirty dumbass! Poor Tim finally finished another movie and you got to spoil the twist at the end. You are an evil uncle telling his little nephews that Santa's alive, but locked in your cellar and if they don't be good you're going to feed Santa to the Big bad Easter Bunny that you've had caged for a decade and have taught to eat human flesh. Were not all assholes on the Internet Tim. Don't become a bigger ass by making sweeping generalizations and cast yourself in old fogeyville with Bill Maher and Harlan Ellison. I realize the pressures involvedd in making this movie were driving you bananas...sorry, I couldn't resist. Shit, I'm not sorry. I guess I'm as much a sucker for a clichéd pun as I am for alliteration. Anyway, I feel your pain…*snicker*

"They would start humping my leg, and if I didn't pay attention to them, they'd spit at me or throw shit at me. They have an insane, psycho quality. One day I caught one of them staring at me and I thought, man, if a human ever looked at me like I that I'd run in the other direction. I felt like I was in some weird gay bar and some sleazy person was checking me out."

-Tim Burton

Yes, those funny little monkeys. Never let it be said that working with animals is boring and dressing up like animals is passé. At least, until it is. Damn, I want to be a Rick Baker ape this Halloween. Someone hook me up. It certainly sounds more doable then a Raptor suit. But since Tim Burton donned the Sci-fi action suit for his POTA (PETA meet POTA. POTA eat PETA) debut we can safely ignore the factual blunders in its execution.

First off, Leo is supposed to be a pilot and I'm damn certain he's a "fly by the seat of your pants" type. How else can you explain how his ass stays in his seat crash after crash? He's like Amazing Suction Ass Man. There is no chance the Department of Transportation is going to endorse this movie the way Leo sits on his seatbelts. The first time I could let him off because in space no one can see you brake seatbelt laws, but when he does it the second time he is surrounded by people and apes. He's giving them a bad example before they even have the ability to follow through. Heartless. It's true, Leo is as cold as Ari is warm and lovely and oh so…Whoa. Maybe that's what Tim Burton said too. I mean Helena Bonham-Carter does a good job of making me ponder the monkey sex or ape sex angle. I mean, do they say to each other "Let's fuck like humans!" ?-And if it's just a few thousand years before genetically engineered apes can talk, then are those with a sheep fetish just impatient? "That darn Eee-va-lou-shun takes too long. I'm horny now. Comere Dolly! Oh, and your twin sisters too. Yeee Hah!"

It could have dealt with the intriguing question of whether a man and a gorilla having sex is open-mindedness, or bestiality (and, if bestiality, in both directions?).

-Roger Ebert

We are actually teased by a sex scene as Nova and Senator Nado prepare to get naughty, but it's interrupted by the fleeing band of humans. They both jump up for what looked like a chandelier above the bed. Its position is certainly not a coincidence. You'll probably recognize Nova (Lisa Marie) as the Martian Girl from Mars Attacks! The act of recognition was not always easy. I'm still trying to identify the actor that played Ari's bodyguard. His character is a bit touchy about Leo's "monkey" cracks and destroys the gun Leo salvages from the wreckage of his ship. This bothered me a bit. I admit that the apes are strong suckers, but he demolishes a sturdy looking metal weapon on a tree. I'm picturing a The Gods must be crazy bit at this point. "Well, um…Leo. I can't seem to destroy this thing. Let's journey to the end of the world and throw it off."

Some people have commented about the amazing "flying" apes, but these are the same people that probably liked Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon's "flying." I probably would have enjoyed that movie a lot more without it. In this movie the big leaps of the apes may be entirely feasible. A Mountain Lion can leap 25 feet in the air from a dead stand still. But, this feasibility hair-splitting gets old.

I know Tim has more within him, but the whole movie is restrained. The real problem with these big budget movies is that they must make money. A risk could cost money, but we all lose as movies seek to appeal to our lesser sensibilities. As much as I tease the folk from Hollywood, they generally work hard and endure a lot of crap that I wouldn't.

Let's take Estella Warren for instance. She played Daena, the human part of the little love triangle. During the whole movie she manages very few lines and seems desperate for more. Despite all the cool looking apes her beauty is evident in every scene she is in and she has worked hard to get there.

She made sure to make friends with Helena Bonham Carter the first day on the set, while aging director Harlin fantasized that "she needs someone strong to make her feel safe. A little bit of a father figure." Warren apparently did not feel that way on the set of Driven, which may have led to Harlin's decision to publicly tear her down while shooting the movie in order to "push" her acting. "Estella wasn't quite able to get there emotionally because of her lack of experience and (acting) training," recalled Harlin to the Calgary Sun. "To get her to the point I needed I completely destroyed her so those tears you see on screen are real."

"I was able to find her weaknesses," he told Talk, apparently really enjoying the story. "And it got to the point where she was a shaking, crying little girl...Afterwards...she thanked me." Michael Rymer, who directed Warren in Perfume, pronounced to the same magazine, "It would be very hard for her to smile or flirt with anyone without ruining his life," not commenting on whether or not he personally was smiled at.

I don't see someone trying to do that to fellow Chicagoan Michael Clarke Duncan who did a damn good job as one ape you don't want pissed off at you. But directors can get actors to do just about anything. I just hope they make sure the movie is worth their actor's efforts.
O: Considering the extreme material that people are willing to accept as mainstream entertainment, what surprised me about the Pink Flamingos re-release is that it still has the power to repulse people.

JW: Yeah, it does, because it's real. The chicken got fucked and we ate it. Divine really eats dog shit. I mean, no one really shot a load into Cameron Diaz's hair. That's different, plain and simple.

-John Water's interview at the Onion

Finally, (because I can't seem to say enough stupid things about this movie) when you get Mark Wahberg to train apes they can explore the mysteries of electro-magnetic space storms and travel through time. When you get Matthew Broderick to train monkeys they can pilot warplanes. When you give monkeys to George A. Romero he turns them into jealous fatal attraction killers. And when you...OK damn, there are a lot of monkey movies. It's like 6 degees of Monkey. I mean, Tony Danza, Clint Eastwood, and Charlize Theron all have simian movies under their collective belts. What is with this monkey business? Oh man, that was bad. I have no shame.

More: The IMDB entry, Rotten Tomatoes meta-review, Ebert

This review was last updated on Friday, 08-Oct-2004 17:57:57 EDT.

AIM: FesterWo
john@linkworthy.com