Friday, July 29, 2011

Planet of the Apes

Torpid action-adventure, toothless satire, generic science fiction, take your pick—Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes aspires to all manner of mediocrity. Never really a master of the lunk-headed blockbuster, Burton is far from his strengths here, resulting in one of the most flat and hackneyed films this eccentric stylist has yet produced. But it’s hard to imagine any director coming up with much better based on such a slapdash script. Narrative logic has never been the purview of this franchise, but even for a movie with talking apes and time travel this is pretty incoherent stuff. The best you can hope for is some trace of anarchic gusto (see: Conquest of the Planet of the Apes), but all you get are the clichés and tepid ironies that killed this series in the first place (see: Battle for the Planet of the Apes). Charleton Heston even appears briefly as a dying ape patriarch, which only reminds viewers of how uninspiring this rehash is compared to the loopy original (and didn’t he blow up the Earth in the second Ape movie just so he could get out of making these things anyway? Damn you! Damn you all, etc.). At least the original films had the Cold War and impending nuclear death to give some shape to their satire; like most modern blockbusters, this film’s vision only comes into focus when its eyes are locked on your wallet.

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