Tim Burton's "re-imagining" of Planet of the Apes
is about one thing above all else: monkey movement. But for most filmgoers, whether fans of the 1967 original or not, thats simply not enough. Thematically the story of an outsider in a society that doesn't know what to do with him chimes in nicely with Burton's other work. As always with Burton, the focus is more on what's colourfully going on around the central character (Mark Wahlberg) than his own story. It all looks stunning, of course, as make-up, set design and costumes outdo the accomplishments of the original. But otherwise a direct comparison with the classic version simply shows up holes in the Burton approach. The breakneck pace at which the pared-down plot is told makes little sense of the material and misses all the satire and social comment potential. What sold the idea to Burton was the opportunity to goof around with apes as humans: as a result the background is constantly peppered with lame visual gags which fall as flat as the unnecessary homages to Charlton Heston, who pops up repeating lines of his own dialogue from the first movie. Slick, action-packed and ultimately nonsensical, this is the film that made a monkey of Tim Burton.
On the DVD: balancing out the disappointing movie experience is an exceptional 13 hours of extra material. From the heavily CG-animated menus, you'll encounter some standard fare like libraries of promo material (posters, ads and trailers) and concept art. But they're enormous, as are the 26 cast and crew text profiles. If the THX optimiser tests don't convince you of the need for top equipment, there's DVD-ROM and NUON-enhanced player features as well. The "White Rabbit" Enhanced Viewing Mode for FX vignettes and four multi-angle featurettes on shooting scenes may seem a little dry, but the other features ranging from 10 to 30 minutes aren't. You'll find it hard picking a favourite between Rick Baker gushing over the lifetime dream of ape make-up, Michael Clarke Duncan playing to camera on location, or Danny Elfman at work on the scoring stage. Of the two commentaries Elfmans is better by far, even if somewhat sporadic and clearly not recorded to picture. Burton's is typically fragmented, and is certainly not the place to discover what on earth the "shock-value-for-the-sake-of-it" ending means. --Paul Tonks