The updated setup follows a fearless pilot ("The Perfect Storm's" Mark Wahlberg) from the year 2029 as he accidentally travels through a strange outer-space disturbance and crash-lands on a topsy-turvy world where apes have evolved to be the dominant species, with humans as their cowering pets and slaves. Like Charlton Heston's bare-chested astronaut from the original, Wahlberg's hero quickly uses his advanced intellect to rebel against the oppressive, iron-age ape establishment, aided by a human-sympathizing simian (Helena Bonham Carter, "The Wings of the Dove") and the inevitable scantily-clad human female sidekick (supermodel-turned-actress Estella Warren).
While the Cold War-era "Apes" worked the concept for all the post-apocalyptic doom and gloom it could muster, director Burton's more idiosyncratic version takes almost the opposite tack, playing situations for goofy, self-referential humor and treating even the action sequences only half-seriously. On the visual side, Burton, production designer Rick Heinrichs and creature makeup master Rick Baker push the depiction of the leaping, amazingly expressive apes and their distinctively Burtonesque dark-storybook environment to a level filmmakers could scarcely have imagined in 1968. But for all the impressive creativity and craftsmanship that went into their cutting-edge visual monkeyshines, this "Apes" never generates anything close to the narrative power of director Franklin J. Schaffner's more streamlined original. Damn these dirty humans and their need to get their paws on what should be left alone! Starring Mark Wahlberg, Tim Roth, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Clarke Duncan, Kris Kristofferson, Estella Warren and Paul Giamatti. Directed by Tim Burton. Written by William Broyles Jr., Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal. Produced by Richard D. Zanuck. A Fox release. Sci-fi/Action. Rated PG-13 for some sequences of action/violence. Running time: 119 min