Andy's Anachronisms
Time Travel Film Reviews

Poster for Planet of the Apes 2001
Planet of the Apes (2001)
Rule The Planet

Directed by Tim Burton


Astronaut Leo Davidson (Mark Whalberg) finds himself stranded on a planet where Apes have evolved to be the predominant species and humans are kept as pets and slaves. Davidson's attempt to find a way home pits him against the powerful General Thade (Tim Roth) and his army of apes lead by Colonel Attar (Michael Duncan Clark).


Tim Burton's re-imagining of the 1968 movie classic and based on Pierre Boulle's original novel features Mark Whalberg as Captain Leo Davidson, who finds himself stranded on the Planet of the Apes.

A fairly paint-by-the-numbers action movie, Burton's Planet of the Apes attempts to wow its audience with effects and make-up. Despite his re-imaging of the story, most of the audience is familiar with the subject material in one form or another and Burton is hard pressed to breath new life into this tale, which may in part explain the ending of the movie. I have heard at least one plausible explanation for the seemingly tacked on screw-with-your-mind twist ending from a friend and amateur movie reviewer Don Marks. Since I am about to share my opinions and Don's on the ending of Planet of the Apes, you may consider this fair warning that what follows may be considered a SPOILER and you can choose to stop reading now if you haven't seen the movie. Otherwise, please read on.

At one point in the movie one of the apes remarks that while the apes are stronger, the humans are more dangerous because they have technology. During the final confrontation between Leo Davidson and General Thade in the remains of the research station, Thade becomes locked in the control room with a gun. As he fires the gun again and again, the shots harmlessly ricochet off the protective windows. The last we see of General Thade is his body huddled under the control panel as he cradles the weapon. A few moments later we have Whalberg's character returns to Earth only to discover that the Apes now rule the planet. What-the-heck? Well, Don's explanation has it that Thade has made the evolutionary leap in that scene with the gun in the control room and has grasped the importance of technology. Since we are not made aware of what happened to Thade after Leo's departure, its possible that he managed to develop the Ape's society to incorporate technology and regain his prominence in society. How then did the Apes beat Leo back to Earth? Since the time-storm appear to have widely unpredictable effects as demonstrated by the fact that Leo (Whalberg) entered the time storm first, but apparently the research station had crashed several thousand years prior to his arrival, its entirely possible that the Apes left several centuries after Mark and still beat him there with enough time to conquer the Earth (or at least the United States).

While I personally thinks this makes sense it would appear that even Burton disagrees or perhaps just doesn't get the significance of the script since he is reported to have said during interviews that the ending IS intended to screw with your head and not make any sense. Then again Burton is ONLY the director.

The time travel in this movie is a little vague and appears to take the form of a combination of wormhole and temporal storm in space. Capt. Leo Davidson, his chimpanzee subject, and his companions aboard the research station are transported to the planet separately, First the chimpanzee, followed by Leo and finally the space station sequentially, yet in terms of time line, Leo lands on the plant thousands of years after the space station, whereas the chimp landed last.

An enjoyable movie on many levels, but can't quite compare to the initial impact of seeing Charlton Heston discover the Statue of Liberty buried in the sand. Planet of the Apes is by far Burton's most mainstream movie, here's hoping he returns to the good ol' days of Edward Scissorhands or Batman where the design and feel of the movies were uniquely Burton.

Review Posted 2002-01-06

Return to Film Review Index

Return to Andy's Anachronisms Home

Open Link for Internet Movie Database for Planet of the Apes (2001)