Director Tim Burton (Sleeping Hollow
) re-imagines Pierre Boulle’s novel with a new surprise ending and spectacular special effects, but the action, humor, inter-species romance and social commentary here do not quite gel into exhilarating cinema. Mark Wahlberg stars as an astronaut who crash-lands a one-man space pod on a planet ruled by talking simians. His capture and flight for freedom are set mostly in a dark rainforest that stifles rather than enhances the intended excitement and suspense of the film as race, human rights and beast of burden themes are delivered with sledge-hammer like delicacy. The bland Wahlberg (Ray Liotta was much more charismatic in No Escape
) and blander Estella Warren (think cave woman Raquel Welch as dressed by Catholic nuns) are upstaged by Tim Roth as an ape general and Helena Bonham Carter as a monkey’s cousin with a soft spot for homo sapiens.