BEHIND THE PLANET OF THE APES
When studios think of extras on a special or limited edition DVD, they should think in terms such as these. In addition to having extremely clean digital non-anamorphic widescreen transfers, FOX studios went all out and provided an entire disc devoted solely to behind-the-scenes footage and a documentary on the entire Apes saga hosted by none other than Cornelius himself, Roddy McDowal! If you've ever wanted to know everything about the Apes films, this AMC (American Movie Classics) documentary provides all the information you could ever want in the way of the hows and whys of the entire Ape series. Roughly 2-hours in length, the documentary takes you through every aspect of the making of each film. Because there is so much information conveyed throughout the documentary this reviewer could never adequately present every nuance provided without missing the finer points of McDowal's commentary so I'm not even going to try. In additoin to the aforementioned commentary, there are interviews with cast members and home-movies of the cast & crew both in and out of makeup. SFX shots showing the makeup process from beginning to end as well as amusing anecdotal information on what happened when the cameras stopped rolling are provided as well!
One of the funnier/quirky anecdotal bits had to do with the thought "Now that we have all this make-up on, how are we going to eat or go the bathroom?" The bathroom issues proved easier to fix than did the eating. Once the make-up was applied, it was on for the balance of the day's shooting schedule with touch-ups to follow as needed. No one gave any thought to the need to actually "feed" these actors so they all went to lunch in full make-up! The Chimps sat with the Chimps, Orangutans with Orangutans and The Gorillas only sat with other Gorillas! Then after lunch, the make-up crew went around replacing teeth and jaws and anything else that didn't quite make it through lunch!
What an excellent documentary this is! I am definately gushing because I've always had a soft spot for the "Apes"! Suffice it to say, this documentary covers all things Ape providing the most extensive look behind the scenes of the franchise to date. The success of the feature films created a watershed of spin-offs in the way of a cartoon, a short-lived TV series and the oodles and oodles of merchandising that came as a result of the tremendous success of what was then a groundbreaking cinematic acheivement.
If you are solely a fan of the first film, it's doubtful you'll get to see this information as it's solely sold as a part of the Apes box set. At $99 for the boxset, it's marketed entirely for those who are die-hard fans of the series as a whole. But, don't let that price tag scare you. With a couple of online coupons with major "e-tailers" you can do a whole lot better than the MSRP.
The audio is presented in a 2 channel stereo platform that is wholly unremarkable in its presentation. It conveys the dialogue perfectly. There are no surround features so, the rears/sub/ do not provide any effects.
The video for the extras, unlike the balance of the discs in the set, is presented in a full frame format, with the quality of the transfer ranging from very good to fair. Given that some of the source material is rather old, the presentation was incredibley well done. That having been said, there are some grainy moments throughout the presentation but on the whole, the video is very nicely done.
Given the wealth of extras contained herein this bonus disc is the icing-on-the-cake for an already top-notch collection. As a fan of the series or even a casual observer, there is enough information presented to make you see the "Apes" in a whole new light!