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"White rapper?!?  You say they allow white rappers on earth?  
I'll snap your fucking neck in two, you Vanilla-coated sellout!" 

Planet of the Apes
Review written by: Alex Sandell

What's the story?:

Apes and humans fight and philosophize. 

So, how is it? (Get to the point, already.)

I guess, if you were being picky, you could call the Planet of the Apes' director, Tim Burton, a gigantic sellout for the conventional job he did on the film.  If you were being generous, and watched the film for pure entertainment value, you could call his directing of Planet of the Apes, a mini-sellout, and enjoy the fact that most of it is a coherent film without the 3.7777 million plot-holes found in most event movies released this summer.  Contrary to my usual pessimistic attitude, I am going to go with the "glass is half-full" attitude, and recommend this movie, although only half-heartedly.  

The half-empty side of me still feels that Burton sold his soul to the corporate devil known as Hollywood when he didn't let the planned full-blown romance develop between the ape-woman named Ari (Helana Bonham Carter) and the "normal" human being, Leo Davidson (Mark Wahlberg), out of fear that the planned sex scene between ape and man would cause half of America (and about 25% of the other, more liberal countries, like Canada), to throw down their sodas and stomp out of the theater.  A sexually charged romance between man and super-intelligent ape would have been groundbreaking, and the sex scene, if done tastefully, would have been bold, and moving.  If done distastefully, it would have been cheesy and fun, like when Chucky and his bride did it on their honeymoon in The Bride of Chucky.  Either way, it would have added a sense of absurd realism -- Tim Burton's specialty -- to the movie.  If an ape has the same intelligence as a human (and being that she's up against Mark Wahlberg, that wouldn't be too unbelievable), and the two fall in love, isn't love making the next logical step in their relationship?  

The love-child of ape and man would be nearly as hairy as me, and nearly as dumb as Marky Mark, with a love of eighties' boy bands such as New Kids on the Block.  Think how fun a sequel about an extremely intelligent ape (Ari), and a half-retarded human (Ari and Marky Mark's son), would be!  Rain Man would have NOTHING up on Rain Man of the Apes!  It could be a cinematic breakthrough; the next step in celluloid evolution (at least in really bad pop music, with apes doing choreographed dancing behind Rain Man of the Apes, as he sings sappy love songs).  I dunno, I just wanted to see a horny female ape and a white-rapper fuck.  It would have been lots of fun to watch, and I would have commended Burton and crew over the nerve it would take to put something like that into a mainstream summer movie.

It's not like I'm into Bestiality, because I'm not, unless it involves a human and an animal, and the scene wouldn't have turned my crank in that certain way perverts get their crank turned when a hairy female beast screws around with a fleshy human male, but it would have definitely given the film the edge that it seemed to be missing.  I know for a fact that both Wahlberg, Carter, the screenwriters, and initially even Tim Burton, wanted the scene to be included.  Yet, when I heard the audience groaning over a brief kiss between an ape and a man, I realized that I'm probably in the minority, when it comes to favoring a scene with a man and an ape bumping the ugly.  Oh well.  

Lack of monkey screwing isn't the only aspect of the movie that makes the film seem incredibly mainstream (for a Tim Burton movie).  There are too many times when you feel Burton trading his creative vision in for a gigantic hit.  The violence in the film is all off camera, and it could have easily been given a PG rating, rather than the PG-13 it was stuck with.  The action scenes and battles never get too intense, and the soundtrack is lackluster, at best.  Burton finally buries the movie's chance at greatness when he 1. adds some lame super-model to the cast for no reason other than to show off her tits, in a role that is entirely irrelevant to the film, just to give the teenage viewers a chubby and 2. brings in a Jar Jar Binks-ish Orangutan sidekick to add some kiddy comedy relief to the proceedings.  The guy playing the annoying Orangutan was Pig Vomit from Private Parts, and that's about all you need to know to know the character is going to annoy the hell out of you (still, he's a breath of fresh air when actually compared, side by side, to Jar Jar).

Even Mark Wahlberg, as the film's lead, is tediously bland, and was a poor choice to play the hero in the revamped Planet.  He did well enough playing a long-schlonged porn star in Boogie Nights, but in Boogie Nights he wasn't acting against apes, and didn't need to generate sympathy from the audience, in the heroic sense. On the other hand, his potential love interest, Helana Bonham Carter, playing the ape Ari, can act herself out of globs of Rick Baker's incredible makeup, and puts on a damn good performance.  Her personality shines right through the monkey suit, and she should win some trophy, or another, for her work.

Carter's performance isn't the only thing that holds the movie together.  Burton still knows how to direct a good film, even if it is a watered-down attempt at greatness.  The screenplay is fairly sturdy, unlike the other big-budget crap we've had thrown at us this summer.  The dialogue, while a bit clichéd, is fairly good, for a big-budget event movie.  Then there's the ending, which has already turned into a "love it or hate it" affair.  I am definitely standing on the "love it" side of the debate.  

You may or may not piece together all the clues that lead up to the surprise finale, but, If you do, you will be rewarded.  Yes, it's predictable, but it's far more clever than it deserves to be, and is also a lot of fun.  If you only accept it at face value, and don't see how an entire subplot led up to it, you might think it's simply a quickly written, overly cheesy, segue into a sequel.  When it's all said and done; if you enjoy grand adventure, unbelievable special effects, and a lot of face-paint, you're going to dig the new Planet of the Apes.  Tim Burton doesn't quite manage to hit a homerun, but he does give us 2 hours of superficial fun, and, as far as this summer goes, that's straight out of the ballpark.

What does it make you feel like eating?

Ape boobs.  They look so bouncy and full of fat.  Mmmm.

What are you selling us here???

I didn't notice any product-placements.

If it won an Oscar, what would it be?

"Best 'almost-there' movie of the year" - Planet of the Apes

On a scale of 1-10?

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Text ©(Copyright) 2001 Alex Sandell [All Rights Reserved].  If you copy this, without my permission, I'll have my pet ape rip you in two and then I'll sew you together and have him do it again.

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