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BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES

With the success of PLANET OF THE APES, Fox and producers certainly realized that there was still money to be made, so they ushered BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES into theaters two years after the original. Charlton Heston wanted nothing to do with the sequel, however he was agreeable a storyline in which he would appear in a limited capacity, with the provision that his character is killed off to prevent his return in any further outings.

BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES picks up the story shortly after the first film ended, with James Franciscus portraying John Brent, another astronaut launched from Earth on a rescue mission to find Taylor (Heston) and the rest of his party. Unfortunately, while those American spaceships sure can fly- they just can't seem to land in tact. Brent does reenact some of Taylor's experiences, thus finding his way to Ape City where he encounters friendly chimpanzee scientists Zira (Kim Hunter) and Cornelius (David Watson), who point him down the path where they last saw Taylor. After entering the forbidden zone, Brent discovers an underground society of mutant humans, whose enhanced mental abilities allow them to get inside the heads of their enemies. Further complicating matters is the fact that the mutant humans worship a doomsday device and an aggressive gorilla army is on a push to claim new territory inside the forbidden zone. The cast of BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES features Maurice Evans, Linda Harrison, Paul Richards, Victor Buono, James Gregory, Jeff Corey, Natalie Trundy, Thomas Gomez, Don Pedro Colley, Tod Andrews and Gregory Sierra.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES available on DVD in a 2.35:1 wide screen presentation that has NOT been enhanced for 16:9 playback. Still, the 4:3 wide screen image looks quite good on a standard display. Overall, everything appears crisp and nicely detailed. Colors are rendered with a somewhat subdued palette, but never appear faded. Flesh tones remain natural looking throughout and there are no flaws in color reproduction. Blacks are pretty accurate and the level of shadow detail is respectable. Blemishes are minimal, although some grain does creep into the picture on occasion. Digital compression artifacts maintain a low profile throughout.

The Dolby Digital 2.0 channel soundtrack decodes to standard surround. The track is a bit more engaging than the original film, even though it had new 5.1 channel mix. The forward soundstage provides good imaging, however use of the surround channels is sparse. Dialogue reproduction is clean and intelligible. Age and older recording technology make the music sound a little canned, but it's not really all that bad. This track is definitely workable and fairly pleasant. A French language track is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English and Spanish subtitles. Animation and sound enhance the interactive menus, which provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as theatrical trailers for all the PLANET OF THE APES movies.

BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES is a good sequel to a great movie. My only problem with this disc is the fact that presentation lacks the 16:9 enhancement. Hopefully, Fox will re-issue BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES at some point in the future with the anamorphic enhancement.

Presently, BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES is only available on DVD as part of The Evolution Box Set, which includes all five APES films for $89.98.

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BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES 


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DVD reviews are Copyright 2001 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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