PLANET OF THE APES: Blu-ray/DVD Review

Fox Home Entertainment
Release date: November 4th, 2008
MSRP: $34.99

Director: Franklin J. Schaffner
Stars: Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans, James Whitmore

Planet of the Apes was a staple of my childhood. Saturday and Sunday afternoons saw replay after replay, with me lying on the floor watching Charlton Heston treated like some sort of animal (I later saw him the same way, though for political reasons).

This is the first time I have revisited the film in almost two decades. I watched most of the series during my teen years, only to realize that many of them are nowhere near as good as I remembered.

Fortunately, the original flick still has mojo!

For those that may not be familiar with the film (The young whippersnappers), Taylor (Heston) is an astronaut that finds himself on a planet where intelligent, talking apes are the dominant species and humans are mute primitives. I am not going to go any further with the plotline, in case you have not seen the film.
Looking at his career, I could not help but notice that Apes appears to be a turning point for Heston. The late 60s and early 70s saw him playing heroes and loner type characters. Prior to that, his claim to fame was historical pieces (10 Commandments, Ben Hur).

PotAs is a damn good film; it does an excellent job of mixing mainstream fun with a strong, deeper message. They deliver exciting action scenes while using clever imagery and cinematography to create a visually impressive, alien world.
The film is delivered in 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 format. It looks better than I expected, but is a bit faded. The audio is DTS-HD 5.1, but we are still using a very old audio track so there is not too much surround some going on here.

Extras:
Two audio commentary tracks are provided: Actors Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter and Natalie Trundy join makeup artist John Chambers for one, with Composer Jerry Goldsmith handling the other. Also included is a text commentary track with Eric Greene, author of Planet of the Apes as American Myth.

There is a documentary entitled Behind the Planet of the Apes, featurette from 1968, a make-up test for Edward G Robinson, some footage of McDowell on set, dalies and outtakes (that sadly have no audio), a teaser trailer and photo gallery.

Planet holds up well after all these years. Smart but still exciting, it is a film that deserves to be in the collection of film fans everywhere. With no other copies of this film, I am happy to have this. If you already own it, I can’t see the point in picking up the BD version, unless you are set on coverting your collection to HD.

Order Planet of the Apes from Amazon.

Jeremy Lynch
For more reviews from myself, and the rest of the Crimespree crew, check out the index of reviews.