[MOVIE REVIEW]Monkey See, Monkey Do Not See

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[MOVIE REVIEW]Monkey See, Monkey Do Not See

Hollywood films this summer seem to be stocked with nonhuman characters: dinosaurs in "Jurassic Park III," a greenish ogre in "Shrek" and robots in the soon-to-be released "A.I.: Artificial Intelligence." Tim Burton completes this menagerie, bringing us talking primates in "Planet of the Apes." The film is scheduled to open Friday across Korea.

The movie is a "revisiting" (Burton refuses to use the word "remake") of the 1968 classic film of the same title, starring Charlton Heston and Roddy McDowall and directed by Franklin J. Schaffner. The 1968 film was followed by five "ape" sequels.

The track record of offbeat and sci-fi movies by Burton ("Edward Scissorhands," "Batman") and his special effects supervisor Rick Baker, who won Oscars for his work on "Men in Black," and "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas," sets you up for another visual spectacle. Indeed, the apes in this new version appear much more expressive, threatening and more like the real thing, a compliment to the advances in costume and computer technology. Underneath several of the ape cloaks are famous actors such as Tim Roth and Helena Bonham Carter. Carter, who made a name for herself in British period films "Howards End" and "A Room With a View," metamorphoses seamlessly into Ari, a chimpanzee crusader for "human rights."

The story, set in 2029, is simple. Astronaut Leo Davidson (Mark Wahlberg) lands on a planet where talking apes rule, despising and even hunting down the "inferior" human beings. Thade, the general of the ape's army tries to purge humans completely out of existence; Ari defends the humans. Leo leads a group of humans in an escape to a secret place on the planet where the key to humans and apes' past and future lies.

Compared with the 1968 classic, the 2001 version is much more commercial. Burton develops the film largely around the conflict between the apes and humans, creating war sequences that trump the action in the original production. But the classic apes hold the edge, with acting so similar to humans that the satire on contemporary civilization is more effective. Burton's version looks more stylish and authentic, but it is destined to remain no more than entertainment, whereas the original is more thought-provoking. Given the new release's reliance on special effects to entertain, Rick Baker rather than Burton deserves whatever accolades this film receives.

by Chun Su-jin

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