Four stars: ‘Apes’ improves, ‘Heart’ twines lives, humor

Rebecca Opstedahl

Rebecca Opstedahl

“Planet of the Apes”

Mastermind director Tim Burton returns to a planet upside-down from ours in his newest sci-fi flick, “Planet of the Apes.”

On this strangely familiar world, apes rule over the land and humans are the animals, caged and sold into slavery by the apes.

The year is 2029 and Captain Leo Davidson (Mark Wahlberg) is in charge of training chimpanzees to pilot small exploratory spacecraft.

When one of his chimps is lost in an electromagnetic storm, Davidson attempts to retrieve his little buddy. However, Davidson gets swallowed by the same storm and is catapulted hundreds of years into the future.

After crash-landing on a strange planet, Davidson finds himself captured, along with several other humans, by clearly dominant apes. The Captain is sold into slavery only to be bought by the human-loving senator’s daughter, Ari (Helena Bonham Carter).

Through her compassion and willingness to help, Davidson and a few other humans are allowed to escape bondage and return to the forest.

Davidson and his new entourage must reach Calima in 36 hours where Davidson believes the USAF will rescue him. But getting there won’t be easy. The small band of renegades is pursued by General Thade’s (Tim Roth) army and ultimately by the general himself.

Tim Burton wonderfully adapts the 1968 classic “Planet of the Apes” into a modern, technical wonder. The ape makeup is astounding and Oscarworthy, while the special effects don’t distract the audience’s attention from the actual storyline.

Lines made famous in the original are given a different slant this time around. Charleton Heston even appears in a cameo as Thade’s dying father.

The first time I saw this film, it left me rather unsettled because, call me a human supremacist or whatever, but it’s hard to accept the fact that apes ruled over humans.

The treatment of humans and the bestiality of the “more intelligent species” are a bit overwhelming at first. But after watching it a second time, I enjoyed it more than before.

However, I am still disgusted by the idea of the cross-species love that Ari feels for the Captain. It just does not seem right that an ape can be attracted to a human.

Must be that whole man-in-a-uniform ideal.

Stars: 4

“Playing by Heart”

An all-star cast lends its talents to the 1999 romantic comedy “Playing by Heart” directed by Willard Carroll. The movie follows 11 people as their lives twist and turn in the pursuit to find that ever-elusive, greatest love.

Gillian Anderson is Meredith, a play director who has closed herself off from ever loving again. She was burned a few years back because her husband discovered he was actually gay.

Comic Jon Stewart plays Trent, an architect determined to win Meredith’s heart no matter what it takes or however many insults he must endure.

Paul (Sean Connery) and Hannah (Gena Rowlands) have been married for nearly 40 years of ups and downs. Poor Hannah has just found out that her husband had an affair 25 years ago and almost left her for the other woman.

Joan (Angelina Jolie) frequents the club scene where she meets Keenan (Ryan Phillipe) and resolves to make him hers.

Then there’s Hugh (Dennis Quaid) who tells every woman he meets at the bar a different tragic story while his wife Gracie (Madeline Stowe) has an affair with a preacher named Roger (Anthony Edwards).

Confused yet?

In one way or another, all of these people and their stories are related to each other.

Eventually everyone comes together at Paul and Hannah’s wedding anniversary and we find out how small this world really is.

Dating and falling in love has never been easy and these characters make it seem exactly that.

Not easy.

The movie starts slowly but easily gains momentum halfway through and draws you into these people’s lives. With an all-star cast comes great acting and this movie certainly packs a wallop to the heart.

Stars: 4

Email comments to Rebecca at [email protected].