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Wednesday, 22 August, 2001, 17:12 GMT 18:12 UK
Planet of the Apes: Press reviews
Planet of the Apes
Critics are not impressed with Burton's "re-imagining"
Press reviews of Planet of the Apes.

The Independent

The question nags: did they send the screenwriters to ape school, too? Once Wahlberg organises a break-out from the ape encampment, the movie declines with alarming speed into platitude and stands revealed in all its shallowness. There's no emotional connection we can give a damn about. Hard to imagine a more insultingly underwritten - correction: unwritten - role than Estella Warren's as Wahlberg's love interest (although let's not speak too soon).

The Daily Telegraph

As an action-movie skeleton, it's just about there, but the chief failure of Burton's vision is that it remains just that: a skeleton, never fleshed out with the probing, questioning, proper sci-fi intelligence of Schaffner's movie, the curiosity about sociological parallels between this ape world and our own. The ending, a camp inversion of the original's famous Statue of Liberty finale, is played for little more than easy laughs.

The Times

This Planet seems to have been thrown together on the try-anything principle, with lingering memories of Gladiator somehow filtered into Flash Gordon in the Land of the Houyhnhnyms. An extraordinarily clunky "mystery" of how this planet came to be ruled by apes involves time travel, trained space monkeys, a simian creation myth and Mark Wahlberg being an idiot. The fact that the ending, playing with another iconic American landmark, is more or less the one Boulle used doesn't make it seem any less stupid, not to mention hard to understand exactly.

London Evening Standard

It is an imperialist allegory that sides with the white colonisers. Its human characters like Wahlberg and co are portrayed as progressives, suffering a temporary reversal of master-race fortunes; its apes are depicted as barbarous natives who've abused the benefits of white civilisation conferred on them by an unexpected quirk of evolution. Apes, to put it bluntly, are represented as surrogates of African-American blacks.

The Observer

There is no philosophical debate in this picture. The ape community, who live in something resembling the ruins of a pre-historical Latin American civilisation, are much like the Flintstones, a primitive version of modern America. The women have "bad hair days", the older men wear wigs and have false teeth, and although their masks are more expressive than in the 1968 film, the resemblance of their noses to penises is oddly disconcerting.

The Guardian

This is a film whose knuckles scrape along the ground, when it should be swinging through the trees. It's a clumsy tea-party of over-acting and sub-Erich Von Daniken plot-lines. And the script looks like it had loads of writers: an infinite number, each with his own typewriter.

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