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Marky Mark and the Monkey Bunch:
A Review of "Planet of the Apes"

by Margaret T. Minnick
August 9, 2001

I don't care what the others say. I liked Planet of the Apes. Admittedly, I did see it at my favorite movie theater, the Alamo Drafthouse, where they serve food and beer in the theater. Seeing a movie there can really enhance my enjoyment. Alcoholic beverages simply make most movies more palatable.

In this case, it also helped me with the parts of the movie that were hard to understand. When large plot holes came up, I thought "Oh, I must have just been spacing out -- it's just me, I'm sure the movie makes perfect sense."

But it's not just the booze talking, I swear. There are some legitimate reasons for liking this movie.

The plain truth is, it kicks the pants off the original film. Cry all you want, but that's the way it is. Face it, the 1968 Planet of the Apes starring Charlton "Gimme a gun and I'll kick yer ape ass" Heston is a big snooze-fest. The most exciting scene is when Charlton sees his buddy's lobotomized head and yells at the apes, a tad too dramatically, "You cut up his brain, you damn baboons!"

By the time the final scenes of that movie roll around, with the talking doll and the broken down Statue of Liberty, I'm so bored I feel like I have a sinus infection. One key area of improvement in the new version is that they scrapped the whole post-apocalyptic baloney. Let me tell ya, that's a big relief to someone like me, who had hippy teachers flipping out about the nukes every damn day.

Also, the apes are actually apelike! What a concept. Instead of having apes that look like hairy humans with ape masks on their heads, they decided to spend some money on special effects, and the results are quite magnificent. They have thumbs on their feet, like apes do, and can thus write and eat with their feet (no wonder they're the dominant species!). They also sniff eachother (and humans) a lot and pick things out of eachother's hair. Now, those are the apes I know.

The main sympathetic ape is played by Helena Bonham Carter, who's the Merchant-Ivory staple from such films as A Room with a View and other movies where people carry umbrellas and have a lot of polite conversations. She is a funny-looking New Age chimp with baggy rayon pants and a faux-Indian vest. She likes to run around talking about how humans (who are slaves on her planet) should be treated better. She seems uncomfortable around actual free humans, however. This seemed very realistic to me and reminiscent of many New Agers on my own planet.

At the end of the movie, Helena gives hunky Marky Mark a snouty, sniffy kiss. I was hoping for a little more interspecies romance, but that's all they dish up. There's also a foxy human babe after Marky Mark, but she doesn't get any action, either. She's played by Estella Warren, who the magazines would have me believe is an up-and-coming young actress. I hope that the fact that she can't act won't interfere with her career plans. She delivers lines that (I assume) are supposed to be dramatic, such as "They left their homes to be with you," with all the enthusiasm and emotion of a teenager working at Sbarro in a mall food court.

There are a bunch of weird ape military subplots that I kind of ignored (blame it on the booze), so I won't tell you about those. So that just leaves Marky Mark, who plays Leo, the crashed astronaut from Earth. He gets rounded up as a slave, makes some human and ape friends, leads a rebellion, and all that kind of stuff. Romantically, he might be torn between the intellectual sophistication of Helena the New Age Ape, who is unfortunately somewhat unappealing since she's a chimpanzee and all, and the babelicious, yet perhaps not quite as well-read, human Estella. But honestly he just doesn't seem that interested in romance with either one of them, which is too bad because everyone knows that romance is what makes action movies appeal to the ladies.

Oh well, they can't do everything right.

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Badass chimp kicking Charlton Heston's ass.

Marky Mark says "Come on, swing it."

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