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Review of the Tim Burton "Planet of the Apes" film (2001) on Blu-ray & my take on the ending (1 Viewer)

The Drifter

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I recently re-watched the Tim Burton-directed Planet of the Apes film (2001) on Blu. This is my first viewing in years, and my first time seeing the film in HD.

I remember seeing this several times theatrically when it hit theaters in Summer '01. It was a big deal at the time & the showing(s) were generally packed - given that the franchise had somewhat of a following & because there hadn't been a new POTA film in almost 30 years at that point.

Since then, this TB film has gotten lambasted & raked over the coals by critics & fans alike. Going along with this, the film's poor reception is probably at least one of the reasons why it took 10 years before another Apes movie was made.

I'm an unapologetic fan of this TB film - it's definitely one of my favorite films of the 200X's. I feel it was well-done & underrated. The Ape Make-up/Prosthetics (by Rick Baker) were superb. The Gorillas, Orangutans, Chimpanzees, etc. were all unique/typically looked different from each other - unlike in the original films, in which the different breeds of Apes all looked very similar. And, the armor/outfits that the Apes wore was interesting as well. I also liked that these Apes moved/carried themselves a lot more like actual Apes do IRL than the ones in the original film: This was especially evident in the way the lead female Ape Ari (Helena Bonham Carter) moved/jumped around, and was also evident in the final large battle scene between the Apes & Humans.

In addition, they actually made the female Apes look somewhat attractive - which I'm sure wasn't easy to do due to the prosthetics, etc. Also enjoyed the "homages" to the original film(s) re: Chuck Heston playing the dying Ape Zaius (General Thade's father) & Linda Harrison (Nova in POTA & Beneath) somewhat reprising her role as a savage human in a non-speaking cameo.
 
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The Drifter

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I liked that the story-line/plot was completely different from what was seen in the original films. I.e., the "explanation" behind why the Apes & Humans were on the planet in the first place was because they were the descendants of the Apes & the scientist humans that had landed there thousands of years earlier - re: the "time loop/anomaly" that Leo Davidson (MB) found himself in, etc. (Sure, the time-loop "explanation" was hard to follow - but no more difficult to swallow than what we saw in the original 5 films).

Interesting & unexpected ending as well: I.e., when Davidson landed on what appeared to be modern-Day Earth, the Apes had already taken over. This was an obvious homage to the end of the original Planet of the Apes novel (Pierre Boulle, 1963). And, though the ending was obviously confusing - after this most recent re-watch I believe I understand what may have happened here:

The planet where most of the movie took place was possibly Earth in the very distant past (though Davidson & the scientists that landed there years earlier didn't know that) & at the end - somehow Davidson landed on Earth in the present-time. Not sure how much sense this makes, but it seems to be the only really plausible explanation, given the "Thade Memorial" during the final scene....which was supposedly referring to the same Ape General Thade from the earlier time period.

Also, this film's editing was great; it flowed well & IMHO there were no parts/portions that dragged at all. Though I could have done with a little more exposition/explanation(s), the film's running time was almost two hours - so I suspect the producers didn't want to make it any longer, etc. Excellent score by Danny Elfman as well; I remember buying the CD soundtrack not long after first seeing the film.

In all, this was a good film & I'm glad it was made. That being said, it works best as a stand-alone film with 0 connection(s) to the other films in the franchise. And, as such I'm happy that there were no sequels made/produced.
 
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John Sparks

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Part 2 of my review of the 2001 POTA film:

I liked that the story-line/plot was completely different from what was seen in the original films. I.e., the "explanation" behind why the Apes & Humans were on the planet in the first place was because they were the descendants of the Apes & the scientist humans that had landed there thousands of years earlier - re: the "time loop/anomaly" that Leo Davidson (MB) found himself in, etc. (Sure, the time-loop "explanation" was hard to follow - but no more difficult to swallow than what we saw in the original 5 films).

I really liked the ending as well. I.e., when Davidson landed on what appeared to be modern-Day Earth, the Apes had already taken over. This was an obvious homage to the end of the original Planet of the Apes novel (Pierre Boulle, 1963). And, though the ending was obviously confusing - after this most recent re-watch I believe I understand what may have happened here:

The planet where most of the movie took place was possibly Earth in the very distant past (though Davidson & the scientists that landed there years earlier didn't know that) & at the end - somehow Davidson landed on Earth in the present-time. Not sure how much sense this makes, but it seems to be the only really plausible explanation, given the "Thade Memorial" during the final scene....which was supposedly referring to the same Ape General Thade from the earlier time period.

In any case: This film's editing was great; it flowed well & IMHO there were no parts/portions that dragged at all. Though I could have done with a little more exposition/explanation(s), the film's running time was almost two hours - so I suspect the producers didn't want to make it any longer, etc.

In all, this was a good film & I'm glad it was made. That being said, it works best as a stand-alone film with 0 connection(s) to the other films in the franchise. And, as such I'm happy that there were no sequels made/produced.
...Amen!
 

Dick

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Part 2 of my review of the 2001 POTA film:

I liked that the story-line/plot was completely different from what was seen in the original films. I.e., the "explanation" behind why the Apes & Humans were on the planet in the first place was because they were the descendants of the Apes & the scientist humans that had landed there thousands of years earlier - re: the "time loop/anomaly" that Leo Davidson (MB) found himself in, etc. (Sure, the time-loop "explanation" was hard to follow - but no more difficult to swallow than what we saw in the original 5 films).

I really liked the ending as well. I.e., when Davidson landed on what appeared to be modern-Day Earth, the Apes had already taken over. This was an obvious homage to the end of the original Planet of the Apes novel (Pierre Boulle, 1963). And, though the ending was obviously confusing - after this most recent re-watch I believe I understand what may have happened here:

The planet where most of the movie took place was possibly Earth in the very distant past (though Davidson & the scientists that landed there years earlier didn't know that) & at the end - somehow Davidson landed on Earth in the present-time. Not sure how much sense this makes, but it seems to be the only really plausible explanation, given the "Thade Memorial" during the final scene....which was supposedly referring to the same Ape General Thade from the earlier time period.

In any case: This film's editing was great; it flowed well & IMHO there were no parts/portions that dragged at all. Though I could have done with a little more exposition/explanation(s), the film's running time was almost two hours - so I suspect the producers didn't want to make it any longer, etc.

In all, this was a good film & I'm glad it was made. That being said, it works best as a stand-alone film with 0 connection(s) to the other films in the franchise. And, as such I'm happy that there were no sequels made/produced.

That is a good - and certainly reverential - review. Thanks, Jim. I recall seeing Burton POTP theatrically and walking out feeling disappointed, but thinking I'd deserved to. After all, I'd seen the original in 1968, and there wasn't any way I could have imagined it being bested, other than perhaps with more flexible prosthetics. I am a dedicated fan of Tim Burton's, with whom I share a love of the quirky and macabre. But, although there are moments of high inspiration scattered throughout, I haven't been able to shake my personal reaction of What-Was-The-Point.

Still, for those young enough to have been introduced to this story by way of the 2001 remake, it would certainly have a different impact. It all seems very clever, but perhaps a bit too much so. Not to say I didn't sort-of enjoy it. I did, and do. But I realize younger generations don't know what they missed, seeing that 1968 ending on the big screen without knowing about it in advance. For us, it was impactful, but that works only once. After that, upon repeat viewings, what remains are several delightful performances serving a witty script, some funky set designs, and a unique and memorable music score.
 

Alan Tully

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Not a good start to the film with putting the apes in those tiny spacecrafts (why?), & the ending is just annoying...but I thought all the stuff between was great (95% of the film). It has a great look to it, & an interesting design, I prefer the jungle look more than the desert of the 1968 original. I like the ape makeup, & a great score by Danny Elfman. A small rethink & a few days of reshoots & I think Tim Burton would have had a winner. This has put me in the mood to watch it again.
 
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JoshZ

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I saw this in the theater but the only thing I remember about it is enjoying the details of Wahlberg having to flips lots of old-school switches and turn lots of dials in his retro space capsule. That's about the only thing that stuck with me. I didn't dislike the movie, but I came out knowing that it was going to leave most audiences dissatisfied.
 

Colin Jacobson

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It's not a terrible movie but it's erratic and unfulfilling.

Definitely disagree with the OP's positive appraisal of PQ. It's a poor transfer that could really use an upgrade.

 

jayembee

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I also liked that these Apes moved/carried themselves a lot more like actual Apes do IRL than the ones in the original film: This was especially evident in the way the lead female Ape Ari (Helena Bonham Carter) moved/jumped around, and was also evident in the final large battle scene between the Apes & Humans.

That was all due to the cast being sent to "Ape School" to specifically learn how apes actually moved. At the time of the film's release, I recall The Sci-Fi Channel (as it was then known) did a few behind-the-scenes specials, one of which was all about the Ape School.

Me, I've never seen this particular film. I'm not a fan of Tim Burton's films in general, and, to be honest, as much as I enjoyed the POTA films back in the 1960s/1970s, I discovered when getting them on laserdisc that I didn't think they held up very well. Even the first one. So I didn't even have any nostalgia to draw me into watching this version. Thankfully, I've liked the Matt Reeves films.
 

cineMANIAC

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It's not a terrible movie but it's erratic and unfulfilling.

It's unfulfilling in the sense that there was no followup. I do appreciate the OP offering a theory for the ending and it does kind of make sense but I would've loved another film in that universe that explored the "why". We were just left hanging without a resolution for a film which I thought was very well written and executed. Did this kill Burton's career? I don't even know if he made anything after "Apes" although I'm sure he likely did.

I happen to love Burton's Apes film. It had everything a POTA fan could possible want IMO. Only thing I would've changed is Mark Wahlberg. I'm not particularly fond of him.

Doubt the film will ever receive another release.
 

Colin Jacobson

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Did this kill Burton's career? I don't even know if he made anything after "Apes" although I'm sure he likely did.

Burton has made probably 10 films since then (guessing estimate).

Edit: I was right on the nose. Hasn't done anything in 5 years but has a new "Beetlejuice" movie out this year.

"PotA" wasn't the big hit everyone expected but it certainly didn't bomb - and even if it had tanked, Burton had a good enough track record to continue to work in Hollywood.

Further edit: "PotA" made $362 million WW on a $100m budget. Profitable!

"Mars Attacks!" was a huge bomb but it didn't derail his career. ($102m on $100m budget - lost money!)
 

dpippel

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Did this kill Burton's career? I don't even know if he made anything after "Apes" although I'm sure he likely did.
Um, is that a serious question?

Big Fish
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Corpse Bride
Sweeney Todd
Alice in Wonderland
Dark Shadows
Frankenweenie
Big Eyes
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Dumbo
Wednesday (TV Series)
 

Colin Jacobson

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And his follow-up was the excellent Sleepy Hollow.

I loved "Attacks" when I first saw it in 1996. Didn't age tremendously well - ie, I found it considerably less entertaining on subsequent viewings - but I still think it's reasonably fun.

"Hollow" was good but not great, IMO. Still, "PotA" became his first misstep - as I noted earlier, I don't think it's a bad movie but it's also not a consistent one and its flaws make it less than it should've been.
 

JoshZ

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It's unfulfilling in the sense that there was no followup. I do appreciate the OP offering a theory for the ending and it does kind of make sense but I would've loved another film in that universe that explored the "why". We were just left hanging without a resolution for a film which I thought was very well written and executed.

I feel like Burton shot himself in the foot with the ending, which closed the movie with a giant "WTF?" that I doubt he ever had an explanation worked out for.

More accurately, he shot his producers in the foot with it. Frankly, I don't think Burton ever planned to make sequels himself. This was a hired-gun, one-and-done job for him that he'd hand off to others to figure out the "franchise" aspects later.
 

JoshZ

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A sequel was planned *if* the movie performed well enough. It did not.

When asked if he'd be interested in working on sequel, Burton replied, "I'd rather jump out a window."


Yes, but even if it had been a huge hit, I don't think Burton himself ever intended to direct any sequels. He was going to hand it off to others. His experience with Batman put him off franchise-building. He was happy to take the money and get the ball rolling, then walk away.
 

Tino

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$638,172,713
Adjusted for inflation, $362,000,000 in 2001 is equal to $638,172,713 in 2024.

$315 million domestic in todays dollars.

I’d say that was a hit.
 

JoshZ

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$638,172,713
Adjusted for inflation, $362,000,000 in 2001 is equal to $638,172,713 in 2024.

$315 million domestic in todays dollars.

I’d say that was a hit.

It was a hit, just not as big a hit as the producers wanted or needed it to be for the franchise they planned to make out of it.
 
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