PLANET OF THE APES
Reviewed October 2nd, 2000 by Chuck Arrington
An American spaceship is hurtling through the heavens. Having crossed the barrier between time and space, this intrepid crew retires to hyper sleep to wait out the long journey home. However, the unforeseen happens and instead of returning to earth’s present, they are rocketed toward a planet of unknown origin. What’s worse according to the ship’s instrumentation it would appear that they have traveled some 3,000 years beyond their expected date of return. Unable to pilot the ship to a safe landing, she crashes in a lake of some depth and sinks while her crew scrambles to flee the submerging vessel. Travelling for days, the astronauts are unable to locate any signs of life. No vegetation, no animals, no people. Their scouting however, proves fruitful as they stumble upon a humanoid-like people who are apparently without a spoken language and reminiscent of Earth’s fabled past.
In an instant, the Humanoid beings begin fleeing the field in droves. Unaware of the reason for their flight, the Astronauts run with them. It is then that their terror is complete. Beating the grass in an attempt to flush the “humans” from the brush are Apes! Apes wearing clothing, riding horses and speaking! A terrible fight breaks out among the “Humans” and Apes and heavy casualties are had by the humanoid race. The Astronauts take casualties as well and are taken back with the humanoids to an Ape City. Here the roles have been reversed and it’s something of an anti-vivisectionist dream! The Apes are broken up into professional groups per their type of Ape. The Chimpanzees are the scientists, The Orangutans the philosophers and the Gorillas the military. It seems that the herding/corralling that was done is a regular occurrence. The Chimpanzees need more humanoids to conduct tests on to determine the order and structure of their minds and bodies. The indigenous peoples are without speech and are unable to communicate with the apes.
The apes take their inability to communicate as a sign of their ignorance and stupidity and find it easy to experiment upon these “dumb animals”.
Taylor (Charlton Heston) has been brought to the Medical compound and is immediately identified by Zira as being different from the others. Due to a throat wound he is incapable of speaking and cannot communicate to them his plight. Taylor’s main impulse is to break free and find his fellow astronauts and get as far away from these apes as he can. The first chance he gets, he takes! Running through the city, he evades the Gorillas by hiding and running faster than they can. Eventually, his luck runs out and he is captured by the Gorillas and is able to utter the words that made ape history: “take your stinking paws off me you damn dirty ape!” A total shock to all those assembled, Taylor has thrown Ape beliefs on their collective ears and done the impossible. Planet of the Apes is a pivotal film that is just as thrilling today as it was when it first hit theaters 33 years ago. In one film, 20th Century Fox raised the bar on Sci-Fi Films and even today, you’ll be hard pressed to find a film this well produced and so visually arresting as Planet Of the Apes.
The audio for the feature was remastered for a very nicely presented 5.1 platform. The surrounds were fairly active and the sub was put to very good use throughout the whole of the picture. The center was clean and the dialogue was crystalline. In all the audio for the feature was beautifully presented.
The transfer image was strikingly clean! Yes there were maybe a couple of fleckings in the opening title Sequence but, I did not notice any transfer errors, bleeding or marring of the image. Additionally, the widescreen transfer was incredible. I have seen this film many times however, I was never aware of all the visual nuances the film possessed until I watched this DVD! Absolutely gorgeous transfer.
The extras on the disc consist of trailers for all the films in the box set as well as a trailer for the Fox Interactive Planet of The Apes video game.
I have to mention the menus as well. They are very nicely done and pretty cool to boot! The menu screens “morph” from Ape to ape, very nice indeed.
Planet of the Apes is all by itself in this category. Never before has a film so grabbed the viewer and made such a profound statement. As gripping as it was 33 years ago, Planet of the Apes is still an incredible experience. I really don’t know who hasn’t seen this film but in case you missed this one on cable, tape, laserdisc or network TV I suggest you go and pick this one up ASAP. It’s worth every penny of its MSRP. However, you can get it a lot cheaper online! The boxed set of this saga contains all of the Ape films and each is perfectly packaged and presented. If you are at all a fan of the series, you gotta get this disc! Just a side note* the box set contains a 2 hour bonus materials disc that has everything you’d ever want to know about the Apes and their sequels. As such I have rated them all at 100 for the extras because that bonus disc-“Behind the Planet of the Apes” is simply marvelous! Quite simply put, you’ll not find better extras anywhere for this series.
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