Ape Week: Planet of the Apes (2001)

Mark Rosenthal and Lawrence Konner (The Legend of Billie JeanSuperman IV: A Quest for PeaceSometimes They Come BackThe Beverly Hillbillies and more) worked with The Polar Express and Cast Away writer William Broyles Jr.

After decades of trying to reboot the franchise, Tim Burton was able to get this script to the screen, even if nearly nobody was happy with the end results. Sure, it made money, but even the ending – spoiler, the Lincoln Memorial is now dedicated to General Thade and everyone on Earth is an ape — is the most nonsensical surprise ending of nearly all time.

Mark Wahlberg — the man who potentially could have stopped 9/11 — plays Captain Leo Davidson, a United States Air Force astronaut who opens a portal to another world and ends up captured by the apes sometime in the future of 5021.

After being captured, Leo and a female slave named Daena (Estella Warren) are bought by female chimpanzee Ari (Helena Bonham Carter), who brings them to work as servants in the house of her father, Senator Sandar (David Warner). Of course, Leo is destined to free the slaves and battle for freedom against Thade (Tim Roth, who turned down the role of Snape in the Harry Potter films to be in this movie) and Colonel Attar (Michael Clarke Duncan).

This is a movie packed with actor spotting opportunities, from Paul Giamatti as slave trader Limbo to Kris Kristofferson as Daena’s father Karubiv, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Shang Tsung!) as General Krull, Lisa Marie as Nova, Erick Avari (who has portrayed 24 different ethnicities in his career) as Tival, Glenn Shadix (who was the voice of the Mayor of Halloween Town in The Nightmare Before Christmas) as Senator Nado, Freda Foh Shen (the voice of the Chinese takeout in Hey Dude, Where’s My Car?) as Bon and cameo appearances by the two actors most associated with the human side of the original films. Charlton Heston plays Thade’s father Zaius and Linda Harrison appears as a slave.

The films looks great, the Rick Baker effects are amazing, but sadly the film has no soul. There was plenty of studio overinvolvement in the film and Burton was in the midst of ending his relationship with Lisa Marie and beginning a new one with Helena Bonham-Carter. When asked if he’d make a sequel, Burton replied, “I’d rather jump out a window.”

Planet of the Apes won Worst Remake at the 22nd Golden Raspberry Awards, while Heston (Worst Supporting Actor) and Estella Warren (Worst Supporting Actress) also won awards. For what it’s worth, Tim Roth had major issues with Heston and had no idea that the NRA spokesperson would be in the film with him.

Wahlberg would later say to MTV News, when the next series of reboots was released, “I haven’t seen it yet, but I heard it was pretty damn good. Well, ours wasn’t. It is what it is. Ours wasn’t. They didn’t have the script right. Fox Studios had a release date before Tim Burton had shot a foot of film. They were pushing him and pushing him in the wrong direction. You have to let Tim do his thing.”

One last weird thing: Two apes in fill makeup appeared on the August 6, 2001 of WWE Raw. They entered the building to the theme song of Kamala and brought gifts for Stephanie McMahon before helping Chris Jericho throw a pie in her face. However, the apes were presented as real and not actors, which made the whole thing appear even more ridiculous.

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