Finally, here's that Ape movie I remember watching as a kid! I remember the flight through the forest, the ship sinking into the lagoon - a trail of fire behind it, and I remember Ari, but I didn't remember the rest of it.
The story's simple: on a routine space mission, Pericles the ape is sent in a pod into an electric storm to test the water, but he disappears. Captain Leo Davidson (Mark Wahlberg), his trainer/caretaker, goes after him, and through the storm, and ends up on a planet ruled by apes.
They treat humans cruelly - like slaves, and during his first few minutes on the planet surface he's captured and caged. Not all apes, however, are as ill-willed towards humans, and there is one female ape in particular that takes a liking to Leo: Ari.
Thanks to her, he escapes his confinement, and they depart on an adventure, first to his spaceship at the bottom of the lagoon, and eventually to the cradle of all creation - coincidentally also the place to which his locator beacon leads. Let me tell you: there's something fishy about this world's history! And let me tell you no more, because that might spoil the story.
Compared to the newer Planet Of The Apes movies, this one does feel a lot more fantastic and fictional, but that doesn't necessarily make it worse. Tim Burton builds up a masterful mood, even if Mark Wahlberg probably isn't the sublime candidate for the main role. He does a decent job though, and I can't say I mind him having the lead role even if he isn't the best potential actor.
There are a few pretty surprising (and maybe expected?) twists along the way; the plot builds up nicely. I'm happy it all works as a standalone story too, though I wouldn't mind a sequel, and a happier ending.
When I think of this franchise, this will probably always be the one movie I think of, and fortunately the special effects still hold. It's a sometimes a bit shallow and prejudiced, but mostly effectual and compelling tale. Great watch.
rated 4/5: fo shizzle