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It's a science fiction film! No, it's a social commentary! It's a science fiction film! No, it's a social commentary! Well, wherever you stand on the above argument, there is no denying that PLANET OF THE APES is a highly entertaining motion picture that evolved into a cinematic phenomenon that spawned four sequels.



Based upon the novel by Pierre Boulle, PLANET OF THE APES tells the story of astronaut George Taylor (Charlton Heston), who is on an interstellar mission in a spaceship that is moving close to the speed of light. Awaken from suspended animation, Taylor's ship crash lands into a body of water on an unknown planet. However, before abandoning ship, Taylor is able to check the chronometer to discover that more than two thousand years have passed since he and his fellow astronauts left Earth. After crossing a vast desert, the surviving astronauts come upon a lush jungle populated with primitive humans. However, the astronauts soon discover that they haven't landed in the Garden of Eden, when they encounter the planet's dominant species.

On this world, apes are intelligent and human beings are savage animals that are hunted or used in medical experiments. After being shot in the throat during a hunt for human specimens, Taylor finds that without his ability to speak, he has no way of differentiating himself from the mute primitives that surround him. Although he finally makes contact with two sympathetic chimpanzee scientists, Zira (Kim Hunter) and Cornelius (Roddy McDowall), Taylor's status as a man doesn't bode well for his continued existence. Finally, when he regains his ability to speak, Taylor becomes a danger to the ape's religious and scientific beliefs and finds himself persecuted by Dr. Zaius (Maurice Evans), who wants to eradicate every trace of his existence. The surprise ending of PLANET OF THE APES will come as no surprise to anyone who looks at the DVD release's cover art. Still, PLANET OF THE APES is one of the most intelligent science fiction films of the 1960s, plus the film making community as a whole benefited from the groundbreaking prosthetic makeup worn by the actors portraying apes.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made PLANET OF THE APES available on DVD in a 2.35:1 wide screen presentation that has NOT been enhanced for 16:9 playback. This sadly is the biggest flaw in the presentation of PLANET OF THE APES. On a 4:3 display, PLANET OF THE APES looks quite good- displaying a sharp, well-defined image. Colors are rendered with better saturation than I've ever seen on television broadcasts of the film, although not quite at the level one generally sees on a new film originating on modern film stock. Still, the flesh tones appear pretty natural and there are no problems with chromatic distortion or smearing. Blacks are accurate, although shadow detail is below the modern standard. However, the picture does have good depth. The film element used for this transfer is free from major blemishes, with noticeable grain being the biggest flaw. Digital compression artifacts remain out of sight during the presentation.

For this release, PLANET OF THE APES has been re-mixed into Dolby Digital 5.1. This re-mix doesn't come close to what one generally finds in a new film, but it does keep PLANET OF THE APES from sounding flat and non-dimensional. Jerry Goldsmith's incredible score benefits most from the re-mix, but fidelity is still somewhat limited, which makes the track sound pretty edgy at higher volume levels. Dialogue reproduction is crisp, with excellent intelligibility. English and French 2.0 surround soundtracks are 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.

PLANET OF THE APES is a great movie and an okay DVD. Had the presentation included the 16:9 enhancement, I would have given it a wholehearted recommendation. Hopefully, Fox will re-issue PLANET OF THE APES at some point in the future with the anamorphic enhancement.

PLANET OF THE APES is available on DVD individually for $24.98 or part of The Evolution Box Set, which includes all five APES films for $89.98.





Planet of the Apes

Planet of the Apes - The Evolution...


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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