A dull caper!
Arthur J Pais
Four decades after Planet Of The Apes intrigued millions of film buffs across the globe and spawned several sequels, Tim Burton, one of Hollywood's most creative directors, known for his bold visuals, revisits the story of a planet ruled by apes where humans have to fight for their sanity and survival.
Burton's $ 100 million venture -- one of the most expensive films in recent months, will show on more than 4,000 screens across North America.
It may not be as intellectually stimulating as the first Planet film but it is laden with super spectacles and with apes who look and move around far better than the ones in the 1968 blockbuster.
The film has plenty of thrilling scenes, an engaging performance by Helena Bonham Carter but it also many a dull moment. And the end could infuriate some and shock many.
As in the first film, which starred Charlton Heston as an astronaut, we have Mark Wahlberg marooned on a planet where apes lord over the humans.
Heston, one of the strongest backers of the National Rifle Association and critic of gun control measures makes an uncredited cameo. As a dying ape-patriarch who is scared of guns, he is a riot.
Anti-Vietnam protests were weekly occurrences across American campuses, when the original was released. And the sci-fantasy packed in a lot of references to the politics of the day.
The current version eschews politics for most part, though it takes up issues like racism halfheartedly.
One of Hollywood's best makeup men, Rick Baker's apes are very lifelike unlike those in the '68 film. They not only look smashingly real, but are also able to portray emotions.
But there are areas in which the earlier version was stronger. Wahlberg's character looks like a pale imitator of his predecessor Charlton Heston.
The script is also much weaker here.
The original filck was loosely based on French writer Pierre Boulle' novel but much of the intrigue in the film came courtesy Rod Serling -- creator of The Twilight Zone.
Serling added drama, irony and a surprise ending, far more interesting than the one in this new version.
And Burton, the maker Batman, and Mars Attacks fails to invest the film with real emotions. While we cheer production values, especially the makeup and photography, our hearts are left mostly cold.
Burton's last film, Sleepy Hollow grossed an impressive $ 210 million worldwide. But he'll needs to net at least $ 220 million to break even for this new venture.
Twentieth Century, which produced the first five Planet movies has produced the current film, is expecting at least $ 60 million this weekend.
Jurassic Park III occupied the top-spot at BO last week, chewing up $ 50.3 million; but this week trade pundits predit the haul will fall to a mere $ 25 million thanks to the intense excitement over The Planet Of The Apes.
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