Planet of the Apes

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
Planet of the Apes Movie Poster Image
Remake has intense peril, lots of violence and death.
  • PG-13
  • 2001
  • 119 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 13 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

While there are no real positive messages, the film can be viewed, in part, as a satire of racism, racist attitudes, and the brutalities of the slave trade. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

The ape daughter of a senator, in her intense compassion, empathy, and understanding of the plight of humans, comes across as a mix of well-known primatologist Jane Goodall, and the abolitionists in pre-Civil War America. 


Very intense peril and violence. Humans punched, kicked, and verbally and physically abused. Humans are branded with a branding iron; a similar fate is given to an ape sympathetic to the plight of humans. Intense battle scenes between apes and humans -- apes clubbed to death, many casualties on both sides, but not a lot of blood. 


Female ape shown in bed with male ape, bouncing and gyrating. 


"Jesus." "Hell." "Damn." Off-color joke making reference to "rocket envy." 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Ape shown smoking from a hookah. Ape characters drink at a dinner party. Escaped humans run past a group of spaced-out-looking hippie apes. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Planet of the Apes is the 2001 Tim Burton'-directed remake of the 1968 sci-fi classic. There is intense and prolonged peril, a great deal of violence, and many deaths. Human characters are beaten, branded, and verbally and physically abused. They are also shown getting branded with a branding iron; an ape sympathetic to the plight of humans is later branded. There's a brief mild sexual situation in which a female ape is bouncing on top of a male ape in bed. The appearance and overall violent behavior of most of the apes could be scary to younger and more sensitive viewers.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byAllAges August 13, 2020

A fun ride.

Not as amazing as the original, but a fun ride, and more enjoyable than the gritty “modern” reboots.
Parent of a 10, 12, and 16-year-old Written byHendo H. U January 22, 2018
Kid, 9 years old August 13, 2011


Not for people under 20! This is horrible I watched this when I was 8 and I still have bad dreams about it. DO NOT SEE THIS ITS PURE SCARY AND EVIL!
Teen, 17 years old Written bydavyborn September 5, 2011

Remake is fun and action packed, but may be too brutal for younger audiences

The 2001remake of Planet of the Apes is much better than the reviews will have you believe, but unfortunately, it is not a competent remake since it replaces th... Continue reading

What's the story?

In this update of the 1968 sci-fi classic, PLANET OF THE APES features Mark Wahlberg as Leo, an officer in the United States Air Force, working on a space station in 2029. An exploratory aircraft piloted by a monkey disappears into a mysterious electrical field. Against the orders of his commanding officer, Leo follows it to find out what happened. The storm hurtles him through time and space until he crashes on a planet where apes rule and humans are slaves. Ari (Helena Bonham Carter) helps Leo and some of the others escape to a forbidden city that will reveal some of the planet's history. But General Thade (Tim Roth) and his army are in pursuit with orders to destroy them. As Burton promised in interviews, this version does not use the now-famous ending in the first film that showed them the planet they had landed on was Earth. This one ends with a twist that may even top it.

Is it any good?

This is less a remake than a re-imagining of the classic staring Charlton Heston. This version has no loincloth and no Statue of Liberty, and no Roddy McDowell, but Heston does show up for a surprisingly effective cameo -- as one of the apes. As in all of Tim Burton's movies, the art direction in Planet of the Apes is intricate, meticulous, and strangely beautiful. Every detail is a work of art, from the texture of the ape armor to the outline of the spaceship.

Wahlberg makes an appealing, all-American hero, though he is not up to the task of delivering a brief pep talk to the assembled humans. But he is fine in the action scenes and he handles the challenge of kissing females of two different species with reasonable finesse. Overall, the simian performers are better and more believable than the humans. Bonham Carter makes a remarkably fetching ape, using her eyes and body language to deliver a real performance. Roth is a seething presence as the bad guy, Michael Clarke Duncan gives physical and emotional weight to the role of the loyal officer, and Paul Giamatti is hilarious as a slave trader held hostage.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the way that Burton makes unabashedly clear the parallels between the views of the apes toward humans and the views of racists and other bigots on Earth. Like those who have argued for segregation, apartheid, genocide, and "ethnic cleansing," the apes find justification for their oppression of humans by insisting that humans are inferior creatures who have no souls or by demonizing them. The apes seem to have no problem with sub-species distinctions, and different kinds of apes work and socialize without any distinctions.

  • Not only was this movie a remake of a classic sci-fi movie, but it's also based on a 1963 novel. What would be the challenges in adapting not only a classic movie, but also the novel on which both movies were based?

  • Many viewers and reviewers had a problem with the movie's ending. The ending of the 1968 movie is a well-known final image even to those who have never seen it, and the makers of this version opted for a deviation from this. What do you see as the challenges in creating an ending that is both visually exciting, but also fits the logic of the story arc that preceded it?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love sci-fi and action

Themes & Topics

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