August 1, 2008
Planet of the Apes ; Movies SPACE CHIMPS (U) VERDICT: *****
AFTER the otherworldly pleasures of WALL-E and the high kicking lunacy of Kung Fu Panda, Kirk DeMicco's computer animated comedy is a crushing disappointment.
As the snappy title intimates, there's plenty of monkey business in this outlandish adventure but the screenplay and the animation lack the necessary sophistication to engage audiences, young or old.
None of the characters are developed in any detail.
Indeed, when one NASAbound chimpanzee boasts "Space is in my veins" and his sidekick quips, "And between your ears," he might as well have been talking about any of the primates in the film: Homo sapiens or Pan troglodytes.
Groan-worthy puns come thick and fast ("I guess I'm just a chimp off the old block") and the action set pieces are sluggish, blighted with clumsy, unappealing visuals that would be an embarrassment on the small screen let alone on the vast canvas of a multiplex.
Vocal performances are similarly uninspired and the screenplay's vein of comedy is so thin, it's imperceptible.
When one human snarls, "Space chimps are a joke!" no one is laughing.
Performing circus chimp Ham III (voiced by Andy Samberg), grandson of the very first primate in space, is recruited by NASA as part of a high profile campaign to retrieve the missing Infinity Space Probe, which has been sucked through a wormhole onto the other side of the galaxy.
Ham joins professional astro-chimps Titan, Luna and Comet, who are unimpressed by the newcomer's goofiness or his unwillingness to boldly go where so many have gone before. Unfortunately, there are only three seats in the space shuttle Horizon so technical genius Comet is forced to remain behind at NASA HQ to guide the mission from the ground alongside Ham's mentor, Houston.
Emerging through the wormhole, Ham, Titan and Luna crash-land on the planet of Malgor where the megalomaniacal Zartog is exploiting the Infinity Space Probe to enslave the rest of the population.
So the chimps join forces with lovable alien Kilowatt to outwit Zartog and restore peace to this strange world.
Early in the film, one of the intrepid heroes jokes: "We got three chimps strapped into a 37 billion dollar space ship, what could go wrong?"
The answer turns out to be this picture.
***** Unmissable **** Enjoyable *** Watchable ** Forgettable * Regrettable Abominable
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