When "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" started getting some positive buzz I made a point of working through the previous movies in the series
. Having now seen the latest entry, it's time to rank the series:8. Planet of the Apes (2001)
I didn't think this was all that bad when I first watched it, but then again I was less critical of movies in general back then anyway. This has not aged well. The first thing I noticed was the very obvious actors-on-springboards effect being used. I know that apes can jump higher than humans and clearly Burton thinks this effect is very dramatic, but it was so over-used that it quickly started feeling comical.
Even Paul Giamatti's orangutan character, who I remembered quite fondly from seeing this when it came out in the cinema, seems way too cheesy here. The purpose that Mark Wahlberg's protagonist serves is also hard to understand, not just because of his ridiculously uncharismatic and boring performance, but also because all the humans can speak and all the humans think being enslaved by apes is a bad thing. It's not at all obvious why he would be able to shake up the social status quo.
Burton clearly wanted to use this movie as an opportunity to shove together a bunch of quirky visuals, but I have to say it now looks particularly obviously like a set. And to be frank, I wasn't keen on his little touches. The ape with the music box getting his human with dwarfism to dance? It might have been a nice touch if the rest of the film was well-handled, but in this film it's just one more groan-worthy element among many.
The big thing to complain about here is the ending, but there's a very simple change which could save the ending. Take General Thade's name off the monument! General Thade is the big villain in the film and at the end of the story the apes are nowhere near mastering advanced human technology like computers and Thade is pretty much traumatised by his misuse of a ray gun. The idea that Thade could have flown a spacecraft in his lifetime (never mind all the other stuff that we are expected to believe he could have done to make the ending possible) is ridiculous. But the idea that apes could eventually master these things is perfectly reasonable. And you've got to give Tim Burton some credit in that, regardless of how little sense it makes, the ending IS a powerful visual. I immediately wanted to see the original movies to understand what it all meant.
Talk about unnecessary remakes... I mean, frankly ALL remakes and reboots are unnecessary until the point where they turn out to be good. And it turns out that Tim Burton's remake is frikkin' appalling.E-7. Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)
It's confusing how so many of the Planet of the Apes movies have low age ratings. Admittedly the UK rating wasn't quite so confusing. Planet of the Apes was given an "A" for 'adult' (which meant children might need adult supervision). But in the US the movie had a 'G' rating. This low age rating wasn't consistent though. Somehow 'Beneath', in spite of moments of pure nightmare fuel, still kept the G rating and it wasn't until, Conquest, the movie preceeding Battle, that the rating finally went up to PG. But with Battle the rating went right back down again.
The reasoning was that the series had always been aimed at children and Battle was supposed to mark the end of the movies and the beginning of the tv series. So as a result, Battle, a film which really ought to feature a big violent conflict, is far tamer than Conquest before it. The budget also seems to reflect the tv quality that would come later.
All this being said, there's a reason why I prefer this to Tim Burton's remake. Burton's movie might be prettier, but Battle still has Roddy McDowall playing the character of Caesar and the characters still feel endearing. Battle retains the heart of the series, even if it lacks the excitement and the brains. I would argue that "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" owes a lot to the basic set-up provided here.
With all that being said, let me just make clear that "Battle" is a load of rubbish. But endearing rubbish. It's a terrible way to end the initial 5 movie series, but as a low point in a series now spanning 8 movies, it's not all that shameful.D+( Click here to read the rest of my rankings for the "Planet of the Apes" series... )