Monday, April 14, 2008

Planet of the Apes

Planet of the Apes; science-fiction, USA, 2001; D: Tim Burton, S: Mark Wahlberg, Helena Bonham Carter, Tim Roth, Michael Clarke Duncan, Paul Giamatti, Estella Warren, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, David Warner, Kris Kristofferson

In 2029, astronaut Leo goes to search for a chimpanzee that lost itself in a space capsule in an electromagnetic storm. Leo himself falls into the storm and arrives at a planet where the intelligent apes are rulers and humans their slaves. He is released from a cage by Ari, a simian who loves people and helps him find his crashed spaceship. Leo figures that these intelligent apes are actually progeny of the mutated apes from the spaceship. Despite the fact that he is persecuted by Thade, he manages to return to Earth - but ruled by apes.

The critics mostly bashed Tim Burton's remake of the Sci-Fi classic "Planet of the Apes" and unanimously proclaimed it a weak film, but even though the original is better (it was more plausible since there the humans were all mute and dumb, while here they can talk and seem pretty smart, creating ambiguity as to why they are so underprivileged), this is still a matter of a interesting film that allegorically speaks about racism. The concept of the huge, intelligent apes who rule the world and are masters of humans at first seems demonically creepy, but it has it's logic due to inversion of strengths and symbols, whereas the exposition is stiff, yet the story picks up on steam and starts becoming intriguing. The most bizarre elements are dialogues of the apes (at prayers they talk how God created them on his image) while especially interesting is the character of the pacifist simian Ari (Helena Bonham Carter) whose monkey face takes on almost human outlines, i.e. proving that charisma is universal. The story is full of cliches, yet the mysterious twist ending is very interesting and symbolic, even though it seems it was placed just there to try to top the twist ending from the original.


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