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A view on Hi-def DVDs by Gary W. Tooze

Planet of the Apes [Blu-ray]

 

(Franklin J. Schaffner, 1968)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Studio:

Video: 20th Century Fox

 

Discs:

Region: 'A'

Feature Runtime: 1:52:02

Chapters: 34

Feature film disc size: 27.3 Gig

One dual-layered Blu-ray

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date:  November 4th, 2008

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC (26 mb/s)

 

Audio:
English: DTS 5.1 HD Master (lossless), English 1.0, Spanish, (1.0),  French (5.0)

Subtitles:
Feature: English, Spanish, Chinese (traditional and simplified), Korean and none
 

Supplements:

Behind the Planet of the Apes 2:06:44
From a novel by Pierre Boulle - Evolution of the Apes HD 23:37
Impact of the Planet of the Aapes HD 11:39
Deleted Scenes? SD 19:45
Alt opening 10:25s

 

• NEW Science of the Apes BONUSVIEW - Scientists, anthropologists and sociologists discuss the facts and fiction of the first film
• NEW “Beyond the Forbidden Zone” Adventure Game
• NEW “A Public Service Announcement From ANSA” in HD – A mission report from the agency regarding their brave astronauts
• NEW “Evolution of the Apes”- HD (23:37) featurette tracing the apes story from the original novel to the screen
• NEW “Impact of the Apes” - HD (11:39) featurette on how to market a worldwide pop culture phenomenon. The story behind the marketing and merchandising of one of the first ever film franchises and the series’ lasting influence on pop culture through the years
• Commentary with Composer Jerry Goldsmith
• Commentary with Actors Roddy McDowall, Natalie Trundy, Kim Hunter and Makeup Artist John Chambers
• Text Commentary with Eric Greene and Author of “Planet of the Apes as American Myth
• Behind the Planet of the Apes Documentary – Includes all new interactivity and timeline  (2:06:44)
• Planet of the Apes Makeup Test with Edward G. Robinson (1966)
• Roddy McDowall On-set Footage
• Planet of the Apes Dailies and Outtakes (No Audio)
• Planet of the Apes NATO Presentation (1967)
• Planet of the Apes Vintage Featurette (1968)
• A Look Behind the Planet of the Apes (1972)
• Original Theatrical Trailers
• Original Sketches by Costume Designer Morton Haack
• Photo Gallery
• Planet of the Apes Timeline
• Interactive Pressbooks
• Vintage Apes Newspaper Galleries
• Advertising and Lobby Card Galleries
• Behind-the-Scenes Galleries

 

Product Description: Astronauts Taylor, Landon, and Dodge are in deep hibernation when their spaceship (non-canonically known as Icarus) crash-lands in a lake on an unknown planet in 3978 after a 2006-year voyage at near-light speed (the crew ages only 18 months due to time dilation). The astronauts awaken to find that their fourth companion and only female, Stewart, has died in space due to an air leak and that their ship is sinking in a lake. They use an inflatable raft to reach shore. Once there, Dodge performs a soil test and pronounces the soil incapable of sustaining life. Taylor suggests they are on a planet in the constellation of Orion some 320 light years from Earth but admits he is not sure.

The crew abandons their spaceship. The three astronauts set off through the desert, finding first a single plant and then others. They find an oasis at the edge of the desert where they decide to take a swim, ignoring strange 'scarecrows'. While they are swimming, their clothes are stolen. Pursuing the thieves, the astronauts find their clothes in shreds and the perpetrators — a group of mute, primitive humans — contentedly raiding a cornfield. But shortly, the astronauts and other humans are being pursued by gorillas on horseback. Dodge is shot and killed during the pursuit, while Taylor and Landon are captured and taken back to Ape City; Taylor is shot in the throat, but survives due to the surgical efforts of two chimpanzee scientists, Zira and Galen. Upon his recovery, Taylor is put in a cage with a woman, Nova, who was captured on the same hunt. Due to the throat injury, he has temporarily lost his ability to speak.

Taylor discovers that the apes, who can talk, are in control and are divided into a strict class system: the gorillas as police, military, and hunters; the orangutans as administrators, politicians and lawyers; and the chimpanzees as intellectuals and scientists. Humans, who cannot talk, are considered feral vermin and are hunted and used for scientific experimentation...

Excerpt from Wikipedia HERE

 

 

 

The Film:

Overview:
At the end of the movie, when Taylor brandishes his rifle and tells Dr. Zaius: "Don't try to follow me. I'm pretty handy with this." Zaius replies: "Of that I'm sure. All my life I've awaited your coming and dreaded it."

Zaius' reply, though upstaged by Taylor's final damning realization, is really at the heart of perhaps the best of the end-of-the-world screenplays. Murder – calculated and reflexive, passionate and careless, political and intimate - is in our blood from the beginning, from Cain to the present day, with no let-up in sight. We may or may not have picked up the gauntlet from our evolutionary ancestors, but it appears likely that we must pass it on to those who come after.

Planet of the Apes was released on April 3, 1968, the day before the assassination of Martin Luther King, two months before the murder of Robert Kennedy, and in the midst of the Tet Offensive – the bloodiest phase of America's Vietnam War. Its star, Charlton Heston, was generally associated with iconic movie roles that championed freedom (Moses, Ben-Hur, El Cid). But in this movie Heston is cast as the last cynical apolitical American narcissist – an archetype that, by the end of the film, is turned on its head: Taylor is transformed into a prophet for the end of the world – a self-fulfilling, self-piloting, automatically repeating prophet who, like the River Kwai's Col. Nicholson, has more than a hand in bringing about its own conclusion. I wonder if Heston himself appreciated the paradox that Rod Serling spelled out for him?

These thoughts came to me, Katrina-like, as I realized the coincidence of the release date for Fox's Blu-ray Planet of the Apes five-title set, ironically titled: the Evolution Collection, with our Election Day. We shall see.

 

 

 

Whatever one's politics, we can be certain that the four sequels, storied or screenplayed by Paul Dehn (who was not with credentials himself, helping out with: Zefferelli's Taming of the Shrew, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, and Goldfinger), represent a devolution of the cinematic art. But, then, how could it be otherwise, given the first movie's credentials: screenplay by Michael Wilson (who wrote or had a hand in: A Place in the Sun, The Bridge on the River Kwai, The Court Martial of Billy Mitchell and Lawrence of Arabia) & Rod Serling (need we say more) and Directed by Franklin Schaffner (who previously worked in television, but soon to direct Patton, Papillon and Boys From Brazil). The ending, in some ways like the closing of the door of the first Godfather film, both invited and warned against a sequel.

Coppola had more than simply better luck, he had Coppola and everyone else associated with the first movie that wasn't killed off, and he had a budget. But Planet of the Apes had lost both its director and its writer. The producer of all five movies (and little else, by the way), Arthur P. Jacobs, knew a good thing when he saw it. Each subsequent movie, which would appear annually beginning in 1970, and was granted increasingly dwindling resources so that, as they say, every dollar can be seen up there on the screen. Unlike Wilmer, the cheaper the suit, the cheaper the patter.

Even so, there's entertainment value, if not art, right up to the last moment. I'm actually quite fond of the third movie (Escape), even though it feels made for TV, and it's nice to see Ricardo Montalban reappear in the fourth (Conquest). Speaking of reappearances: quick now, which was the only film that did not feature Roddy McDowall?

Leonard Norwitz

 

Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The Blu-ray transfer looks better about what I anticipated. It has definite improvement over previous 35th Anniversary SD edition but being a 40-year old film it can only look so good. I'd say though that the image - across the board - is quite good. Everything from depth and colors to detail and contrast is superior to varying degrees.  Background noise is never intrusive and although we can see grain - it does not proliferate the image.  In fact it's fairly smooth and blemish-free. Technically it is dual-layered with the feature size being a healthy 27.3 Gig. I don't see strong evidence of DNR or edge enhancements. In fact I'd have to say the MPEG-4 AVC encoded image gives about as accurate-to-theatrical visually as we are likely to get. I have no strong gripes and I don't think most fans will be complaining. The Blu-ray image produces an enjoyable presentation - the best I have ever seen The Planet of the Apes. Hopefully, the screen captures below will give you an idea of what it will look like on your system. It's pretty impressive all things considered.

 

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 20th Century Fox 50th Anniversary Blu-ray TOP vs. 20th Century Fox (35th Anniversary Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music:  
The
lossless DTS HD Master option has some surprising life... and some welcome subtleties joining in. The ambitious mix is derived from an original mono track that is also included as an option. Don't expect it to rattle the windows but it has some more gentle separation moments. Jerry Goldsmith's original score is a another memorable one and is augmented by some fairly cheesy effects. I'm usually an 'original' audio guy but I think the new mix is the way to go here. It's such a treat in comparison although not really in the same league as more modern surround features. There are two foreign language DUBs and optional subtitles offered in English, Spanish, Chinese (traditional and simplified) or Korean.

 

Extras:
The extensive three commentaries (including the interesting
text one with Eric Greene author of “Planet of the Apes as American Myth”) and the 2-hour Behind the Planet of the Apes documentary are still here - duplicated from the 35th Anniversary edition... but hold one there is also a mass of new (and repeat material.)  On the former front -  Science of the Apes is a BD BONUSVIEW supplements where Scientists, anthropologists and sociologists discuss the facts and fiction of the first film. I didn't play the “Beyond the Forbidden Zone” Adventure Game. “A Public Service Announcement From ANSA” in HD is a mission report from the agency regarding their brave astronauts. “Evolution of the Apes”- HD (23:37) featurette traces the apes story from the original novel to the screen. “Impact of the Apes” - HD (11:39) is a featurette on how to market a worldwide pop culture phenomenon. The story behind the marketing and merchandising of one of the first ever film franchises and the series’ lasting influence on pop culture through the years. The bonus material takes up about 14 Gig by my reckoning and I seriously doubt that anyone will be left wanting. It covers all bases and adds some fun too...

 

 

Bottom line:
The film has reached an iconic stance in society with a niche nostalgia interest for boomers and those seeking the layered subtitles of a modern commentary on our own misbegotten life paths. This
Blu-ray has it all and will even fill the void for those who deeply indulged in the 35th Anniversary SD with more, bigger, better... on all fronts
. This Blu-ray is certainly a complete one and if you want to immerse yourself in the adventure and the intricacies of the story - this disc is the ultimate. Enjoy!

Gary Tooze

October 31st, 2008

 

 

 

Introduction: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 7500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

Samsung HPR4272 42" Plasma HDTV
Toshiba HD-A2 HD-DVD player (firmware upgraded)

Sony BDP-S300 1080p Blu-ray Disc Player (firmware upgraded)
Sony DVP NS5ODH SD-DVD player (region-free and HDMI)

Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

Gary W. Tooze

 

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