PLANET OF THE APES
An Earth spaceship is hurtling through the heavens. Established as a Deep Space exploration vessel, they have crossed the barrier between time and space. Their mission ended, the 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, they have traveled some 3,000 years beyond their expected date of return. Out of control and blind as a bat, the ship crashes in a lake of some depth and sinks while her crew scrambles to flee their rapidly submerging vessel. Once on dry ground, the astronauts are unable to locate even the meagerest signs of life. No vegetation, no animals, no people. For days they scour the land in search of anything even remotely alive. Their scouting proves fruitful as they soon stumble upon a humanoid-like people who are apparently without a spoken language and are reminiscent of Earth's fabled past.
Life for them appears to be that of a simple agrarian community. Rich fields of Corn can be seen in the distance. Yet, these inhabitants seem anxious and their actions are akin to the actions of smaller animals evading larger predators. Startled, 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 in English! The apes are taking no prisoners, and have in addition to their arsenal of ropes and horses, guns as well. Needless to say the casualties among the humanoids are heavy. The Astronauts take casualties as well and are taken back with the surviving humanoids to an Ape City. Here the roles are reversed and it's something of an anti-vivisectionist/PETA dream! The apes are the industrialized residents of the planet and the humanoids are the "pets" if you will. In true class/caste fashion, the Apes are broken up into professional groups per the type of Ape. The Chimpanzees are the scientists, The Orangutans the philosophers and the Gorillas the military. The herding/corralling that took place is their attempt to "cull the herd" and is a regular occurrence. When the Chimpanzees need more humanoids to conduct tests on to determine the order and structure of their minds and bodies, the corralling continues. These 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 received in the corralling of the humanoids, he is incapable of speaking and cannot communicate to them his plight. Taylor's main impulse is to try to communicate with the apes. If he is unsuccessful, he'll attempt to break free, 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.
I remember seeing this film as a younger man and was awed by the presentation. Everything both visually and aurally, is a testament to the kind of filmmaking that's imaginative, inventive and engaging.
The audio for the feature was remastered from it's original Stereo presentation and re-issued in a DD5.1 platform that for the most part is uninvolving. The audio movement is more within the score of the film as opposed to actual audio effects. The sub is largely dormant throughout the feature, but the center was clean and the dialogue was easily understood.
Visually, the transfer image was very clean! The only really noticeable visual errors came at the start of the film during the opening title sequence. A couple of fleckings made their presence known but other than that the images were incredibly clean. I did not notice any transfer errors, bleeding or marring of the image for the balance of the feature. I have to mention that the widescreen transfer was incredible. It's not reference quality but it's darn close. 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 stunning transfer.
The extras for each of the discs in the set are spartan. Not too worry; the box set comes with a sole disc loaded with extras. For the Planet of The Apes, trailers for all the films in the box set as well as a trailer for the Fox Interactive Planet of The Apes video game are included.
I have to make special mention of 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.
When this film hit theaters, there was nothing at all to compare it to. It totally changed the face of Sci-Fi and created an experience never before established. Planet of the Apes is all by itself in this category. 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!