Monkey Pee, Monkey Poo.
It’s Marky Mark’s PLANET OF THE APES!
Viewing this Tim Burton 2001 remake of the 1968 Franklin J. Schaffner/Charlton Heston classic is much like visiting any given zoo: that ubiquitous whiff of feces on the air…
1st Scene: Chimpnaut blunders space-vehicle simulation, proving he’s not that smart from the outset. Marky Mark appears in shot without his characteristic underpants showing.
2nd Scene: Marky Mark (as “space-biologist” -snigger- Leo) demonstrates his unsavoriness to the female of the human species by being turned down by plain woman who prefers the touch of chimpanzees.
3rd Scene: Establishing shot of space station orbiting Saturn for no apparent reason. Interior of ship a-bustle with experimentation on apes. Must we travel 1,300 million kilometers to Saturn to conduct these experiments? The exigencies of the special effects team decrees it.
Marky Mark’s star chimp (yes, the dumb one) gets lost in that staple plot point of 60s sci-fi cinema and Rocky Horror’s favorite 5-step – the Time Warp.
Marky then demonstrates the space station’s mind-boggling technical ineptness by stealing a pod without anyone noticing, while simultaneously demonstrating his loyalty, nobility and abject stupidity in mounting a deep-space rescue mission into a worm-hole for an expendable test chimp, with a ninety-million dollar vehicle with limited fuel and oxygen supplies.
Before anyone can wonder whether they’ve left the oven on, as an excuse to leave the theater, Marky has surfed the worm-hole, crash-landed on an alien planet, taken off his helmet without any thought to the lethality of the atmosphere (of course! – how much longer could Star Marky last in that cloying, concealing headgear?), and is now being chased through a sound stage that almost resembles a lush rainforest, if it weren’t for the klieg lights backlighting every thick-boughed plastic tree.
Shock! Surprise! It’s APES doing the chasing – spit-take onto head of disgruntled movie-goer in front of you, raisinets spilled into lap of fine chick beside you – or at least, it would have been a shock if this very same reveal was not screened thirty-three years ago in Franklin J. Schaffner’s startling film, called – PLANET OF THE APES…
Michael Clarke Duncan, in his role as a lisping Claude Akins, utters the second ape-line of the film, with as much conviction as Emilio Estevez’s attempted acting in MEN AT WORK, an inside gag that went something like this: “Get your stinking hands off me, you damn, dirty human!” I don’t think anyone got it.
Since Marky Mark did not get the opportunity to buffoon his pecs, take down his pants, or bust his lame wigga rap, he had no character.
Michael Clarke Duncan quickly established that in competing with the cardboard apathy of Marky, in striving for even less character, he was well suited to the task, his gorilla general blandly barking orders with gorilla teeth inserted crookedly helping immensely.
Helena Bonham-Carter (as the irritating chimp acitivist), at a loss without a Shakespearean script and/or heroin to give her eyes that overly-mascara’d bulge, did not surrender Marky or Duncan an ounce of ground when it came to competing for Most Boring Character In a Feature Film Ever, and would have won, were it not for the twist ending confusing everyone and making Star Force Fugitive Alien II look like a logical storyline.
Estella Warren: How to describe someone so utterly useless to the plot, so incalculably banal as a character, so inestimably ignorant as a human being, yet so concupiscently prurient as a procreationary device; whose carnally-sculptured lips alone engender unwholesome loin-quivering in pituitary overdrive? Be still my pants…
Paul Giamatti, as the orang-utan slave trader, Limbo, secured the second best role in the movie, as the token comic relief and interspecies klutz. Unfortunately, he didn’t have anyone else to play off, as no one else did any actual acting.
Tim Roth: Though I have grown as bilious in hearing puns relating to this movie as I did when 1999 was drawing to a close and the word “millenium” was bandied about by every plastic-haired newscaster and duplicitous used-car dealership and pedestrian talk show, there was one pun that told the full story of this Planet Of The Apes “re-imagining” – a review headline: “The Apes Of Roth”. While everyone else minced about wondering whether they were meant to look like extras from ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. or GREYSTOKE: THE LEGEND OF TARZAN, Tim Roth, as Chimpanzee Thade, chewed massive amounts of scenery whilst hurling kaka splendiforously. Like Val Kilmer’s Doc Holliday in TOMBSTONE, Roth created an instantly-stunning icon; unlike Kilmer though, as entertaining as his portrayal of the psychotic Thade was, his character’s rabid extremism did also have its downside: no behavioural arc – Thade is mad when we first meet him… and he’s pretty much still at the same level of mad at film’s end. About as much contrast as day. Just day.
film for film
Schaffner’s 1968 PLANET OF THE APES featured a main character, Charlton Heston’s Taylor, who was so disenchanted with the human race that he left the Earth for space, with no regrets. It was established in the opening scenes, through his embittered conversations with Landon, that he had no love for his own kind (much like me) – yet as the film developed, Taylor unwittingly became mankind’s sole champion; he who regarded mankind as worthless found himself locked in a psychological battle to prove mankind’s inherent worth! Is there anything that cerebral or ironic in Tim Burton’s ham-handed handling of Marky Mark’s Leo? Or Roth’s Thade? No, but there’s lots of running…
As foreboding and terrifying as Burton’s ape armies are portrayed, in their overwrought makeup and bestial movements, nothing could match the eerieness that Schaffner’s soundtrack conveyed, through composer Jerry Goldsmith’s experimentation with unique sounds to project the alien-ness of the world that Taylor had landed on. Chills still careen spinewards when we hear that ram’s horn and see apes on horseback herding humans through the cornfield… the shock value of that scene can never be re-created. Remaking this movie (or re-imagining or whatever the buzz term is these days) is about as sensible as remaking PSYCHO – oh, that’s right, some idiot already did that – see what I mean?
The 1968 APES was not a story of mankind’s salvation, but ultimately a tale of mankind’s humiliation: when Taylor discovers the Statue of Liberty (one of the most memorable scenes in motion picture history, written into an early screenplay draft by Rod Serling) he is forced to realize that his kind did not prevail. Mankind had been winnowed out by a more successful species. This new film, though, could never hope to be that darkly disheartening; not with a PG-13 rating, forcing it to adopt a Disney flavor and copping out on all fours. Everyone befriends each other in the end (be still my bitch-slapping impulse); Michael Clarke Duncan finds his teeth, puts them back in and utters yet another irritating line: “Don’t mark the graves, so that people who come to mourn them won’t know whether they were ape or human.” Okay… er- what? Even more annoying than that little girl at the end of VOLCANO referring to the ash-covered hordes, “They’re all the same color…”
(Film-makers would have us believe that the human race is fighting to elevate its own goodness and niceness, but there’s only so far this prevarication and hypocrisy goes… you wanna see where the line is drawn? Go to any government office and pick up an official form – any form – and after the usual “name,” “address,” Big-Brother-dom, you’ll see a section marked RACE, with a choice of check-boxes marked Caucasian, Asian, East Indian, African-American, Latino, Other. ‘Nuff said about the black-teat milk of human kindness?)
chucky vs. marky
Charlton Heston was cast in the 1968 APES not only because men and women both wanted his pecs, but because he had solidified his movie reputation as an unshakeable maverick who would take no broccoli & sprouts from anyone: he WAS Ben-Hur, Michelangelo, Moses fer chrissakes! To cast him as the protagonist in a society where he was but a voiceless, faceless animal was to turn the audience’s expectations on its ear; how crazed and unholy must a world be where Our Man Charlton cannot command respect? This aspect created the surfeit of anxiety and personal involvement in the 1968 film. When Charlton confronted the ape council, they feared him for what he represented – Humankind. Though he was denigrated constantly, he dominated the screen with his charisma and stupendous overacting.
Now when Marky Mark tries to instill fervor in the mongoloid humans, it’s like that unpopular guy in school suddenly being made classroom monitor, who tells you to stop drawing penises on the blackboard and you throw a shoe at him. Burton consciously tries to set up Marky Mark as the icon of Humanity in his film – yet Marky comes off looking like nothing more than a simple, chittering deviant. In the ’68 film, the closeminded ape authorities deem Taylor a deviant, yet he was, to the audience and to the sympathetic chimps alike, Humanity’s icon. That irony again.
I found it incredibly apt that the father of the primo scene-chewer in this film (Thade) was played by none other than the man who elevated scene-chewing to an actual acting technique: Our Man Charlton himself was the Dad of Thad – an APE! When Our Ape Charlton uttered those historic, infamous words on his deathbed, “Damn them! Damn them all to hell!” I think only three people in the theatre knew where those lines of dialogue originated: with Charlton himself – as Taylor – in the last scene of the original APES! (This being a PG-13 movie, he couldn’t utter his exact words, which were “Goddamn you all to hell!” – wouldn’t want to expose the kiddies to God now, would we? Gore and violence is okay, but the vernacular of religion or the act of procreation, represented by sex scenes – now that’s just plain evil.)
activism, my (swollen, pink) ass
Only in First World countries do we encounter trendy concepts like “over-eating,” “animal activism” and – Asmodeus spare us! the trendiest of them all – “saving the planet.” Because only in First World countries (that self-aggrandized coterie of rich nations who keep the poorer nations under their militarily-fortified thumbs) can people afford to be so opulent, so wasteful of their time and resources; affording import to utterly banal pursuits like monster trucks, eyelash-thickener and fashion emergencies.
The other side of the coin is that due to this opulence, these same peoples can pursue activities which may benefit the species, physically and cerebrally: mathematics, astronomy, literature, music – this opulence enabling us to indeed stop thinking constantly about our own wellbeing and instead place emphasis on “unselfishness” – saving dolphins, planting trees, curing cancer and attending monster truck rallies with your mullet buds and Krokus blaring from the Marantz 300W 24-inch Black Widow speakers installed sideways across the back seat of your ’74 Camaro – woooo!
But any extracurricular, ostensibly “unselfish” pursuit only masks the inherent selfishness that spawned it. Think carefully as to why you would support any “cause”… Because it ultimately benefits YOU. Or because it makes YOU feel good.
You support NO SMOKING not to save the lungs of smokers or to prolong the lives of discourteous, illiterate, peer-pressured skoolkids, but because it makes you feel better in not having to inhale smoke. If you’re a smoker, you adhere to the No Smoking laws so you don’t get your arse kicked. You want to Save The Planet not for the sake of the ecosystem itself but because preserving the ecosystem keeps it nice and luxurious for you. No one wants to save trees for the trees’ sakes. (This does not apply to the elven folk with their green spandex and pointy hats.) If you did, you wouldn’t be living in a house. And though we see trees in living rooms, the trees are there to beautify the living room rather than the other way round. Not too many humans can grasp the hypocrisy of this; it’s because, as humans, you have been brought up to believe that greenery is for the sides of roads and gardens and to be used as a splash of color to enliven office spaces. Oh yeh, and the oxygen that chlorophyll-enriched plants create as a by-product of their respiration is beneficial to our carbon dioxide-spewing bad selves, the carbon dioxide, in turn, being beneficial to their green selves… Somewhere in the dank recesses of that thing that passes for the human mind, there has survived some vestigial apprehension of this symbiosis, which every greenie will now cite as their primo imperitivus raison d’etre. (The Latin and French is to impress chicks.)
Midnight Oil’s Beds Are Burning featured the line, “It belongs to them – Let’s give it back,” referring to the Australian aboriginals and their claims to the continent downunda. Now, if The Oils really believed that they should be “giving back” the country to the dark-skinned natives, how did they ever summon the audacity to enter a recording studio in Australia, promote this song over the corporate airwaves and tour the world? First thing they should’ve done when the concept of real estate remuneration occurred to them was to pack their bags and leave the country, no?
If you really believe that the earth should be a lush jungle, you’re not exactly perpetuating that dream by surfing the net and ordering Chinese take-out and watching THE SOPRANOS on DVD. If you really believe that ALL ANIMALS (apes, humans, trout, headlice, piggies, goats, pacaranas, barbirusas, aye-ayes) should be treated equally by man, left in peace, afforded rights, granted souls, et al, then why do you still patronize zoos and keep pets? Because you subscribe to what Eric Blair, writing as George Orwell, so aptly postulated in 1945: “some animals are more equal than others.”
You want everything in the world to be at peace and equal and living together in harmony – under your conditions. Hmm, there was this guy named Hitler, had the same idea…
We’ve come this far as a species precisely because of our conceit and arrogance. And now that hubris assumes its most narcissistic form in the expression of hypocritical pity and empathy towards dominated species.
And thus this grass-roots hypocrisy is brought to bear upon this film (in the form of Bonham-Carter’s chimp constantly whining about equality for all animals – but uh, only if those animals are human or ape), because this contradictory concept happens to be at the forefront of the PC itinerary at this juncture in Earth’s history. The consensus (derived from focus groups – read as people who are so dull or lonely that they have nothing better to do than attend free screenings and answer blockheaded survey questions afterwards) is one of karmic juduciousness: trying to absolve the human race of its past indiscretions by brown-nosing certain “cute” animals that have never been aware of humans’ idiotic machinations anyway… “Can’t we all just get along” – isn’t it ironic that this snippet of urban wisdom was birthed from racial violence?
Salvation awaits – or so the hypocrites would like to believe.
take back the wha–?
In the film, it is established that apes and humans crash-landed on this “planet of apes” together. That means they started out with an equal shot at domination – actually, the humans had a head start because they were the cogniscenti, having already conquered space, speech, written communication and successfully lighting farts on fire at kegger parties. If, over the course of time, the humans degenerated into mongoloid cavemen (Kid Rock and Adam Sandler leading the charge) and the apes managed to acquire the power of speech and writing and sensual body armor, then they deserved to inherit the apex predatory position in the scheme of this planet’s circle of life.
Now here comes Marky Mark with his urban whiteboy idea of human superiority, not even considering that he’s fighting a losing battle from the outset – the humans already had their shot and blew it! – taking it for granted, in anthropocentric arrogance, that any planet with humans on it should obviously have humans as the apex predators. But these particular homo sapiens – as can be discerned from their loose-lipped grasp of his battle directives – are just a bunch of nongs who have DE-volved (as Devo so wisely postulated) into their subjugated state – they’re not waiting for a hero with taut obliques to raise them from the ashes; they’re just lookin for a little good lovin and the odd kegger party at Stevo’s double-wide trailer with their mullet buds and the Acca-Dacca bustin Back In Black all over the crushed velvet lounge out in the backyard soaked in Bud with Helen and Jimbo makin out on it – wooo! (In comparing cavemen to rednecks, I feel I owe a heartfelt apology – to cavemen.)
Ultimately, this planet that Marky crash-landed on is Not Earth – therefore, when the slogans cry, “Take Back The Planet,” not only is it the apes’ battle-won planet to begin with, the hypocritical concept is as ludicrous as a contingent of apes landing on Earth in 2001, complaining, in their best Hestonian, “A planet where men evolved from apes?!” and then causing trouble with their overacting and advanced technology and hairy anuses.
Burton boasted that his film followed more closely Pierre Boulle’s 1965 book, Monkey Planet, than did the original Apes movie in 1968. Is that a good thing, when Boulle himself disparaged his book, calling it lighthearted and stupid? – but in French, so he probably sounded like he couldn’t bench-press more than 25 kg when he said it. It has been about fifteen years since I read the book, so I cannot confirm the film’s adherence to plotline or characters, but maybe the screenwirters of the ’68 film, Rod Serling and Franklin J. Schaffner, did the most sensible thing in re-writing Boulle’s vision and heightening the political and religious issues, considering the hash that passed for a storyline in Burton’s supposedly faithful film. Truly then, it is the original 1968 film that is the “re-imagined” PLANET OF THE APES.
It would seem that “re-imagining” to Burton, is a euphemism for “screwing up completely.” And lots of running…
monkeys vs. apes
There was a disparaging tone to Boulle’s book from the outset, in the way he titled it Monkey Planet. Maybe it came across that way in the translation, but the fact is that monkeys are regarded as less intelligent than apes. The word “ape” conjures a more dignified idiom. Monkeys are regarded as chittering, hyperactive little cheezits who would do anything for a Harpo Marx laugh, while apes are used in studies on speech learning. We perceive monkeys as less dangerous than apes, not just in the Planet Takeover sense, but on a personal level also – monkeys go bananas, apes go apeshit. Which is why, whenever anyone wants to sound disparaging in these APES films, they always revert to the word “monkey.” I hate this more than the intelligent apes do. Because of its bonedead ignorance. Humans create the dichotomous classification system (Carolus Linnaeus in the mid 1700s) and then refuse to abide by the rules they themselves created. Monkeys and apes are separated at the Genus level, let alone the Species level. You might as well call an ape a cat for the erroneous concept you convey by calling them monkeys.
Here’s a simple rule on how to distinguish monkeys from apes. I think I learned it in – oh, SECOND GRADE… monkeys have tails. Now how could supposedly educated people ever make a mistake again in distinguishing monkeys from apes? Reason? It’s too easy to just pun away and disregard the feelings of other species; after all, they can’t understand what we’re saying about them! The bone-lazy contempt! The unadulterated disdain you display for beings you yourselves claim sympathy towards! “Animal Activism” only chugs along respectfully until it meets with the Berlin Wall of laziness.
let’s twist again
The “plot twists” could be made sense of, if you re-wrote the whole story in your head and added Charlton Heston and Roddy McDowall. But what’s the point in twists so complicated and illogical that even when you think you’ve figured it out, you have to make allowances for wind direction, the lackadaisical workmanship on the Leaning Tower Of Pisa and the stock market crash of 1933? And anyone who found these plot twists “better than the original” (like certain splash-reviewers in national newspapers) are retards, or boys under thirteen – which is pretty much the same thing.
Marky’s bleeping thing leads him to his spaceship – which has crash-landed conveniently to resemble the spokes on the Statue Of Liberty’s crown. He’s bummed that it has been evacuated for two-thousand years and, finding no beer, sulks uncontrollably, instead of using the downtime to jump Estella Warren. Finding the ship also heightens his allure with the ape chick, and that can only be good for anyone who engines the web constantly for that kind of stuff…
While Thaddeus is giving Marky a lesson in beating his dumb ass, a pod descends from the troubled skies with the original chimpnaut who couldn’t handle his craft in an emergency. Apes demonstrate their hebetude by bowing in obeisance to this unspeaking, incognizant creature; Marky proves that his mindpower has suffered from all that benchpressing (and by working with George Clooney) by uttering the line: “Let’s teach these monkeys about evolution.”
FIRSTLY: They’re not monkeys, you thick-skulled ape!
2. What we term “evolution” is a process by which mutative changes occur within the molecules we call genes, and if those changes are beneficial to the organism in its adaptability to its environment, those changes may be passed on through breeding; evolution is an accidental process – not a conscious streamlining of features to suit a customized purpose; evolution creates and destroys with no moral judgments; evolution is not a “tree” with a multitude of branches at the top and one thick stalk at the bottom – your linear thought-processes serve to keep you ignorant, especially if you listen to Marky Mark…
3. The processes that brought these apes to this point was not evolution; more along the lines of selective breeding, genetic tampering and imbecilic plot fabrications.
4. You’re gonna “teach them about evolution” how? By blowing them away with the lasergun hidden in chimpnaut’s duffel bag? Now that’s anthropology!
5. I thought I saw you in the mall the other day, but it was just a cardboard cutout that was more interesting than you.
After kissing both species goodbye on the lips as dispassionately as only a cardboard cutout can, Marky revs up his pod and re-surfs the wormhole, toots past Saturn and slams into Washington in the time it takes to read this sentence, which means:
FIRSTLY: His craft contained enough launch propellant to escape the gravitational field of the planet of apes. I didn’t see any large booster tanks – just where did he store all that rocket fuel?
2. He traveled faster than light, which, as any fourth-grader knows, is impossible. Now I’m discounting the whole worm-hole trip, cos I know some of my more educated readers will come at me with the “theoretical time-warp” angle – I’m talking about the straight trip from Saturn to Earth, a journey of approximately 800 million miles (depending on orbital positioning); a journey which light from the sun takes about one hour to traverse! But Marky made it home in less time than it took to maroon Gilligan in his opening montage.
3. his craft had no ablative shield – it was exclusively a deep-space vehicle – how did he make it through Earth’s pea-soup atmosphere without emulating a Leonid?
Skipping his pod across the reflecting pool and making a perfect nine-point crash-landing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Marky gasps in horror that Lincoln’s statue is really – a statue of Thade! And apes in cop cars appear and take him away to Plot Point Prison. No matter that we grew to love him so, as humankind’s last white underpanted hope; in the end, Marky Mark finds himself hosed – hosed like Heston – for it truly is… a madhouse!
Update: 31 May 2013