Planet of the Apes (1968): Special Edition Review




The movie starts off with a rather somber and understated prologue with four astronauts going into deep hibernation. Their spaceship crash-lands on a planet some two thousand years into the future, where apes have evolved into the dominant species and the humans are regarded as the animals. From here the film builds slowly to its iconic conclusion.
What makes Planet of the Apes such an enduring classic is that it is so much more than just a science fiction film. Make no mistake, as a sci-fi it is truly first rate – who could forget its high calibre cast, its ground breaking special effects and make up, its memorable one-liners and of course the most famous twist in motion picture history. All these are of course important, but the real reason the film has endured is that it is so much more than this. Released in 1968, the film cleverly reflects the contemporary paranoia and uncertainty of America gripped by McCarthyism. Its superb screenplay weaves this central theme together with many other political, social and theological questions, most of which are as relevant today as when the film was released. At a time when no major studio would make a “political” film, the fact this film can have been made at all is proof that it is not just a vehicle for its message, but that it says so much about so many issues whilst never sacrificing plot or characterisation is the reason why this should be on everyone’s must see list.
Picture Quality

The film is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and when viewed on a large widescreen TV it is clear that a great deal of work has gone into to the presentation of this Special Edition release. From the moment the disc is loaded into the DVD player, the first thing that becomes obvious is how clean the print is. Throughout the film there is no noticeable dirt or any scratches and for the most part the images are as sharp and the colours as vibrant as anything released today. Understandably given its age, there are a number of small defects; there is some slight picture grain in places and a small amount of pixilation during the wide shots of the sky and of the water at the beginning. Likewise, there is some evidence of edge enhancement, but this is hardly noticeable unless you are actively looking for it.

These minor gripes aside, it is clear that a superb job has been done on the picture quality of this film, and it is certainly the case that this DVD looks as good, if not better than the film ever has.

Sound Quality

This DVD comes with a choice of Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 sound-tracks. Although in this case there is little noticeable improvement over the Dolby Digital track, the inclusion of the new DTS mix shows how comprehensive this release is. As with the picture quality, the sound is extremely well presented, with both soundtracks more than doing justice to the source material. Jerry Goldsmith’s excellent score is at all times weighty and involving, and the dialogue is similarly clear and accurate. The only disappointment is that all effects are located firmly in the front soundstage, with very little use of the surrounds, although this should not detract from what is otherwise an excellent presentation.

• Audio Commentary by stars Roddy McDowell, Natalie Trundy, Kim Hunter and Make Up artist John Chambers
• Audio Commentary by composer Jerry Goldsmith
• Audio Commentary by Eric Greene (Author of Planet of the Apes as American Myth)
• Behind The Planet of the Apes documentary
• Behind The Planet of the Apes promo
• Make Up test with Edward G. Robinson
• Roddy McDowell’s on set home movies
• Dailies and outtakes
• 1967 NATO Presentation
• Planet of the Apes featurette
• Look Behind Planet of the Apes
• Don Taylor directs Escape From The Planet of the Apes
• J. Lee Thompsons directs Conquest of The Planet of the Apes
• 6 x theatrical trailers
• Film Reviews
• Galleries
• Easter Egg (Toy Commercial)

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