Planet of the Apes
Directed by Tim Burton
Written by William Broyles, Jr., Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal
Starring Mark Wahlberg, Tim Roth, Helena Bonham Carter


Planet of the Apes

Here are the questions we need to ask ourselves as we walk out of Tim Burton's new "Planet of the Apes:"

Was there ever another film in which we were as bored as we were here?

Is Mark Wahlberg capable of speaking even one line of dialogue without swallowing his words like a high school sophomore pressed into service in the senior play?

Where did the horses come from?

How come, when Wahlberg returns to earth at the end of the film, coming back through the magic of relativity to arrive on the same date he left it, the earth has already had a history of ape-ness that includes an Abraham-Lincoln-memorial thing in Washington for Abe the Ape?

How come both the apes and the humans have managed to procreate into sizeable populations?

How is it that there are both chimpanzees and gorillas on this planet, unless the presence of both Michael Clark Duncan and Helena Bonham Carter in the cast required a gorilla-size suit for him and a chimp-size suit for her?

And finally, can we ever get our money back for the admission price we paid?

There are some films in Tim Burton's career that I really like, and even in the failures there is much to enjoy. "Sleepy Hollow" was a well-made, nicely moody trip through the Headless Horseman legend, with Johnny Depp doing his usual good job. "Mars Attacks" was a mess, but the Martians themselves were delicious. And Burton's three classics - "Beetlejuice," "Batman," and "Edward Scissorhands" - are among the best films of the past fifteen years.

But "Planet of the Apes" is unredeemable. Unlike the 1968 original, it has neither wit nor power; we can't even remotely suspend our disbelief. The plot has no continuity; the escape of the humans from their cages was constructed with the lack of skill we see on MST-3K, the sleazy sci-fi movie show; it is impossible that the apes would not have caught them. What's worst about this film is that at no point is it even enjoyable. We sit and groan at everything from dismal dialogue to inept direction to amateur acting. Neither Helena Bonham Carter nor Tim Roth, this film's General Thade, both fine actors, have even a spark of invention, nor a compelling presence, in their performances. It's depressing to write so negatively about the work of a director whose other films I have at least some admiration for, but the fact is he has made a stinker for the ages.