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Planet of the Apes

dir: Tim Burton
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Even though it's been out for only two weeks, already the topic of this film is straining to raise even the mildest level of interest anywhere. We get gangbanged by the hype regarding new films leading up to their release, they're released, then everyone collectively reaches over and hits the snooze button. Being ever timely in my responses, now that any interest has pretty much waned, I have seen fit to post a review of Tim Burton's latest coke fueled extravaganza.

Tim Burton's only real mistake was in remaking what is usually referred to as a "classic". He should have remade a different classic, that being Planet of the Gapes, originally directed by Tom Byron, starring himself, Allysin Chaines, Alisha Klass, Sabrina Johnson and a host of other starlets and studs. I have not the courage or the mortal fortitude to tell you readers what a "gape" is, suffice to say it is one of at least a hundred things I wish I'd never seen, and curse the internet each day for inflicting it upon me.

Regardless, the mere concept of doing a remake of Planet of the Apes is enough to raise people's hackles, and as appealing to long time fans as it would be to announce to Christians that you're planning on re-writing the Bible, replacing all references to "God" and "Jesus" with "My Cock". They'd love that.

Calling it a "reimagining" was a cheap copout on the part of Burton's publicity machine. They're completely different films. Truth is, I don't think the original was all that great to begin with. Charlton Heston has never been a credible actor. He's been in some semi-decent films, but he himself is the hammiest actor in movie history. His jaw eternally clenched like he's contracted lockjaw after being bitten by a rabid dog, his pained delivery, is only matched by his pathological penchant for overacting.

Joy for us, he has a cameo in the new POTApes film, which means an entirely new generation of filmgoers can be exposed to his dubious level of talent. He grossly overacts in two versions of the same film, which surely must be a record of some kind.

For all his questionable ability, Charleton Heston certainly had and has presence. For all his questionable dick size, Dirk Diggler as Leo, the hero of the new POTA, has complete absence. He barely seems to be there at all, often fading into the background and the foreground, even when he's the only one on screen. He is likable, but definitely not main man or leading star material. In Boogie Nights, the director wanted us to laugh at the character that Markie Mark played. Here we're supposed to sympathise with his plight and cheer for him as he takes on a planet of our closest genetic cousins, but it's hard to muster the interest.

At film's beginning, we see our hero Leo crash land on a pretty funky planet, only to be herded up by a bunch of hairy alpha males and thrown into cages along with a bunch of seemingly stone age humans. You can tell that they're living like ferals, because they have wardrobe that is the equivalent of rags and furry bikinis. He meets a wizened old man that looks suspiciously like an ape (Kris Kristofferson), and a blonde woman with large breasts (Estella Warren). She is a very beautiful woman with one facial expression. She displays no acting talent at all in this film, which is understandable, since she is unfortunately only there for T&A value. I like T&A, but it has its place. It annoys me that mainstream films still do shit like this, creating characters that you can colour in easily because the numbers are already in the bits telling you what the right pencil to use is. At least have her fucking some monkey, let her earn her money. In this she perpetually swans about with a facial expression that tells us she is both confused and deeply sad because she just lost control of her bladder. "Love Interest" doesn't even begin to describe how insignificant she is to the story.

Helena Bonham Carter plays a monkey who sympathises with the plight of the humans being crushed under the opposable thumb of our hairy brethren. Her character, Ari, comes across as the most credible and believable in the entire film. She's a great actor, and makes a far more believable "love interest" in what is portrayed in an utterly perfunctory way, between herself, Big Breasted Cave Woman and Dirk Diggler. She actually has dialogue, spends time talking to and tries to understand the new guy on the
block (wrong brother, I know) Dare I say it, despite the abundance of facial hair on her face, she's more attractive as well.

As the title no doubt gives away completely, the Planet is completely under the control of The Apes. The Apes are from at least three different species (chimps, orangutangs, and gorrilas) yet seem to coexist in harmony, exemplifying the benefits of the acceptance of cultural / ethnic diversity in a society. Which shows there's hope, naturally.

Unfortunately, humans are seen as dumb animals and treated as such. *CAUTION IRONY ALERT* This is satire? Satire so bluntly obvious that it ceases to be satire and is closer to parody? Multiple references are given which mirror prior and current views of humans in our history in their justifications against dehumanising / killing / giving wedgies to arbitrary groups of people. Bleeding heart liberals unite and cry as a small rich
Ape girl is given a little human girl as a pet to keep in a cage. Although I admit it felt disturbing when seeing it.

One advance made in this film is that the emphasis is placed on the cruelty of humans to animals, and the reversal of roles, which was not as prominent in the clumsy social satire of both the original book or the film. Of course these days we care more about our monkey brethren, don't we? In that sense it is not as allegorically specific as the first film, which doesn't really need to be explained in this forum.

Apart from all the Apes that hate the humans, the main villain REALLY hates humans. General Thade, as played by Tim Roth, is pure alpha male, carrying on like the most deranged bully in the playground. He is excellent. Whacking a monkey suit on someone
and saying "be nasty" is one thing, but actually getting a menacing performance is another. In this sense, the current update far surpasses the original, in that it actually makes the Apes a frightening adversary, whereas the earlier ones looked
like the precursors to the Ewoks that are beloved by all even to this day.

That being said, the humans in this look and act like total fuckwits. The Apes have physical strength and intelligence, whereas the humans (except for Leo) have nothing but extras costumes from Xena episodes. Why the humans are this stupid is
never really explained, my theory is that it shows that people without a history, without culture and civilisation (collective memory) are basically fucking useless. The film, of course, says nothing of the sort. The humans here are just waiting for The One The Chosen One, The Man from the Stars to Lead Them etc, etc, which isn't said in those words, but is the equivalent thereof. During a rousing speech given by Mr Charisma Marquis Mark, when he says the wrong thing, a large group of hungry looking humans do not react in any way, when he says the "right" thing, the humans do not react in any way. At least they're consistent.

I actually didn't mind the story, as such. Having been exposed to incredible levels of technobabble sci-fi plots over the years, this one barely registered a raised eyebrow. Temporal anomalies, the magic of genetic engineering are to me what cumshots and
squirrel nut grips are to avid watchers of porn: par for the course. The glaring plot / conceptual holes aside, the story's certainly no worse than the original, though they have little in common, both in premise and execution.

The look of the film is the trademarked look Burton is known for, which is boring, frankly. He's called a "gothic" director because he gets the guy who shoots his scenes to put multiple dark filters on every shot. Big fucking deal. It just gives me a headache. Sleepy Hollow was a silly film, but the "look" totally suited it, it was a gothic horror story without a spooky kid to be seen anywhere. And at least that had a great actor (Depp) playing a silly nancy boy beautifully.

I left this film feeling somewhat indifferent, still chuckling over the ending. There are good elements, certainly: the ape-like behaviour exhibited by the actors was excellent, really surprising, especially in the leads (like Ari and General Thade). Another great performance is that of the unfortunately named Krull, played by a Japanese actor I dig very much, Cary Hiroyuki Tagawa, who I've seen in a dozen films, most of which he plays the villain. He plays Ari's loyal bodyguard, unsurprisingly enough, and is very good at it, being the middle ground between the humanlovers like Ari and the humanhaters like Thade. It's a shame the guy doesn't get better roles like this, because if he doesn't he'll be playing Shang Tsung in the execrable Mortal Kombat films until the end of time.

Does Leo fuck the blonde or the monkey? Does he escape the monkey planet with nothing worse than lice and a dose of the clap? Horses? Since when do humans who've never ridden horses before master the art in seconds? Can I replicate the aggressive behaviour of the other alpha male apes in my place of work to bring me nothing but glory, advancement and numerous offers of blowjobs? Does "nuclear power source" mean "this machine's warranty will expire in 10000 years?" Is there any underlying racist content in the film, when, say depicting gangs of young apes clustering around in shady corners of Monkey City, talking fast in almost a "singing" way and drinking? How many mounds of coke do they give Burton per picture now anyway? And what the hell did the ending mean anyway. I don't mean the very end, I mean the one before the goodbyes? It makes you want to crawl under a desk and cry, it does, especially as you wonder whether they actually had to pay Heston for his appearance, or whether he just considered it a pro-gun advertisement proudly brought to you by the NRA, free of charge.

The answers to these questions and more are not forthcoming. Don't ask me, I don't work here. And I never liked the original that much either.

4 monkeywomen barking out of 10
"I've been insulted before, but until today, I'd never been attacked with such appalling accuracy. I cannot believe you had the gall to unleash that torrent of utterly valid criticisms" -
The Onion