A comprehensive examination of movies that created a phenomenon in this country.
I think fans might be a little upset over the lack of special features on most of the discs.
Planet of the Apes Legacy Boxset is a compendium of five movies that should certainly bulk any unassuming DVD collector's collection. We start with the first Planet of the Apes, then move to Beneath the Planet of the Apes, then Escape from the Planet of the Apes, then Conquest of the Planet of the Apes and finally, Battle of the Planet of the Apes Extended Edition. While I am purist in the sense that the original film in a series is usually the best one, I will say that as far as the Planet of the Apes Legacy Boxset is concerned, none of the movies that came after the first seemed to run as far afoul as other movies that have been sequelized.
Planet of the Apes Disc
This disc gives us a commentary track with Roddy McDowell, Kim Hunter, Natalie Trundy and Makeup Artists John Chambers. There is also another track one can listen to with the film's composer Jerry Goldsmith. While I often don't like audio commentary's with more than a couple of people talking, I chose to listen to that one simply because it sounded more interesting. The actors and the makeup artist seem to be having an enjoyable time here as they talk about making the film, working together and what they think the material means today.
A text commentary (done by Eric Greene who authored Planet of the Apes as American Myth), was actually quite fascinating. I will be honest, I didn't watch all of it simply because that would have required watching the film all over again and I just didn't have the time. However, I really think that fans and the newly initiated (like myself), will very much appreciate this fact filled text track, that seems to handle the material in an almost tongue and cheek manner.
Beneath the Planet of the Apes Disc
Behind the Scenes Photo Gallery
This is an interesting photogallery that gives us a behind the scenes look at this production. We get to see designs and artwork as well as some shots of what was happening when this movie was being made. While I think they could have given us more bonus features on every disc, I can understand that preparing five movies for release is a bit of a daunting task.
Behind the Planet of the Apes
Clocking in at two hours, this is a very well done documentary (on a disc all by itself) that looks at the history of the Planet of the Apes series. We see some really interesting and intricate detailing of the films in this set, and while I think that they were a bit too focused on the first film, it is understandable when you consider that movie's impact. Afterall, without it none of the other films in the Planet of the Apes Legacy Boxset would exist, right?
All the films in this set are in 2.35:1 - Anamorphic Widescreen. In my honest opinion, with respect to when these films were made, they really don't look that dated. Also, it seems like the film's assets that have been compressed into DVDs have been restored or at least kept in very good condition. None of the five movies seem like they have been taken from poor materials, and I also didn't notice any real "hits" on the screen that we sometimes get from older films that haven't been cleaned up properly. Good work all around.
The films in this set are are in 5.1 Dolby Digital, Close Captioned and they are subtitled in English and Spanish. There are a few language differences on the mono tracks throughout the discs but I think you get the idea. My only problem with these discs is that they seem to all be leveled at about the same volume. As a result, I had to turn up my 9", one speaker television set about 3/4's of the way up to really be able to hear what was going on. However, once I did this everything was fine and then I could just stick in disc after disc. The only problem that arose was releveling my system if I used a disc that wasn't a part of the Planet of the Apes set.
A reddish ape seems to half smile and half glare at us on the front cover of this six disc set. The cardboard holder that houses all the movies lists what the films are, as well as has small artifacts all over the artwork that are germane to the films. The back describes each film and is actually pretty simple looking. On the bottom is where the technical specs, ratings and other information can be found. Each disc has it's own amaray case which actually seems like a waste of space considering they could have certainly utilized a digipack design for this collection. All in all, this packaging makes this set seem bulkier and fuller than it actually is.
I might have been reading into things a bit too extensively but I saw small political messages in all these films. While I don't think any are as overt as the first Planet of the Apes, I think that has more to do with who was behind them (in terms of writing and stories) than it does with the production dropping the ball or missing the point of what they were doing. In fact, in a very interesting way I found that Escape from the Planet of the Apes said a lot about today's immigration problem. In fact, maybe the moral of this story is that it isn't really a problem but something that America has to face simply because we are the kind of country we are.
While I think Apes fans might balk at the lack of "Special Features" that come with this box set, overall I found that for a peripheral fan like myself, the Planet of the Apes Legacy Boxset more than got the point across.
Beneath the Planet of the Apes was released April 23, 1970.