Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes has to be one of the most maligned remakes in the history of cinema. Everyone seems to hate this film. I am against remakes in principle and am not fan of Mark Wahlberg, and so I have studiously avoided this. But since I am going through all of Tim Burton’s movies, I decided to finally give it a try.
And what do you know? I quite liked it. I think the reason why people were so vocally against this film is because they were such die-hard fans of the original film series that started in 1968. I was never much of a fan and found the ape mask kind of creepy when I was a kid and comically bad when I was a bit older. Although I do remember watching, when I was quite young, a TV special on “movie magic” (I always loved that term) which featured a segment on how the ape make-up was done and that made a strong impression on me and left me wanting to become a special effects artist.
While this film didn’t do much to make me like Mark Wahlberg as an actor, I thought Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Roth were great in this, and express a lot through Rick Baker’s makeup, which is of course much better than what Roddy McDowel had to work with. Roth is especially good, appearing very simian and dictatorial in every scene.
The other reason this remake was a bit of a flop was that no one understood the ending, not even the director. After reading an extremely detail reconstructed chronology based on the “first one in, last one out” theory of wormholes that some fan posted on IMDB, I could get the ending. But is it wasn’t really understood by Burton, who said “it was a reasonable cliffhanger that could be used in case Fox or another filmmaker wanted to do another movie.” Tim Roth was even more blunt: “I cannot explain that ending. I have seen it twice and I don’t understand anything.”