As a big fan of the original Planet of the Apes, of course I was skeptical before Rise of the Planet of the Apes came out.
The Tim Burton remake was a big disappointment, and I thought a prequel was pointless. The end of the original was the whole point, we reverted back to apes after we dropped the bomb, what further backstory did you need?
Apes was a big franchise for Fox, there were five movies back in the day, and it not only sold merchandise, but inspired a lot of kids to become make-up artists. (Tom Savini called Apes one of the most important movies ever in inspiring kids to take up make-up).
The whole point of the Tim Burton remake was to get another big franchise going, and it really missed the mark, whereas the new Apes greatly benefited from Andy Serkis’s motion capture performance, which has taken the technology up a whole other level, and generated serious Oscar talk.
As for the Burton Apes, Mark Wahlberg recently reflected to MTV, “They didn’t have the script right,” and indeed, this can often be a problem with Burton. Visually he’s amazing, but without a good script, he can meander a lot, and his Apes pretty much went in whatever direction the wind blew. The Apes script was written day to day, which helps explain why the movie didn’t have much of a story or focus.
“They had a release date before he had shot a foot of film,” Wahlberg continued. “They were pushing him and pushing him in the wrong direction. You have to let Tim do his thing.” In spite of how the movie turned out, Wahlberg recalls, “I have no better time on any movie than I had working with Tim. I run to be on the set with him. We were doing reshoots, and he came out with me to Paris. Tim was in the club, he’d be drawing people in the club.”
Although most geeks love Planet of the Apes, in the end, it didn’t feel like the right movie for Burton to tackle. Tim’s upcoming big screen adaptation of the classic horror soap opera Dark Shadows could be a much better fit, and I’m curious and hopeful to see how he brings it to life.