Planet of the Apes Collection
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Planet of the Apes Collection

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IMDB Links    Planet of the Apes    Beneath the Planet of the Apes   Escape from the Planet of the Apes

                    Conquest of the Planet of the Apes    Battle for the Planet of the Apes

Science fiction is one of the most varied genres in literature, television and film. It can run the gamut from light entertainment to the presentation of radical social issues. At its best it combines both of these functions seamlessly. Over the years Sci-Fi has resulted in many famous and successful franchises such as ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Star Trek’. While admittedly not at this exalted heights there is one series of films that has captured the imagination of generation after generation of fans; ‘The Planet of the Apes’. It has been copied, parodied and in more recent years re-imagined. This franchise has found a continued life with a short-lived live-action and animated TV series. There have been several DVD releases of the five films that comprise this series over the years. One was hailed as the ultimate collection and included both TV shows and the 2003 re-imagined film housed in a nearly life-sized chimpanzee head; kind of creepy in some ways but fun to own. Now there is something for those out there that have moved up to the high definition Blu-ray format. This collection is restricted to only the five core films but they are done better than you have ever seen or heard these movies. There is a current trend with studios to re-release many of the most sought after films to Blu-ray and Fox is leading the pack as usual. This set may not be as comprehensive as its DVD cousin but it is something truly special and a must have for Blu-ray owners seeking to expand their collections. Each of the five discs in this set provides high definition video and lossless audio as well as film and series specific extras to add to the enjoyment. To be honest here each film had less of a budget than the one before so there is the dreaded diminishing sequel effect at work here. The first film won awards for the amazing makeup that transformed well known actors into sentient apes. In subsequent films many of the extras were given rubber masks that seem to be purchased at the local five and dime. Still, this is a fun series that is suitable for viewing by the family. Four are rated ‘G’ and one ‘PG’ so it is something that can allow you to have an at-home ape marathon with the family.

The original story came from French novelist Pierre Boulle. Aside from having talking apes hunt humans, there is very little that was retained for this series of films. What did happen is the writers built a new back story and the entire universe to relate some of the same issues that were presented in the novel. The stories explore to one degree or another such theme as prejudice, draconic government control, slavery and a touch of animal rights. While the overall production values did decrease along the way, the message was still there and comes through loud and clear. Perhaps this is why this franchise has been a favorite in the Sci-Fi community for so many decades. I saw the first film in the theater with some friends, and this was the most anticipated movie of the time. It did not disappoint and remains as fresh today as it did back then. The other films just added to the story layer by layer and although a bit corny at the time we still loved them all.

Planet of the Apes (1968)

Directed by: Franklin J. Schaffner

Written by: Michael Wilson

In this first movie of the series, four astronauts from the present day are on a deep space mission. Due to the long time required they are in hibernation. The crew is awakened and discovers the ship is about to crash. One crew member, a female, died in hibernation, so there is nothing left to her but dust and bones. The remaining three, Taylor (Charlton Heston), Landon (Robert Gunner) and Dodge (Jeff Burton) manage to escape just before the craft sinks into a small sea. Once on shore, they find a clear body of water and take a swim to refresh themselves. While in the water they clothing is shredded. Dressed in some rapidly fabricated loin clothes they explore their new home. Soon they come upon some private humans who are being hunted by apes on horseback. Dodge is killed, and Taylor shot in the neck. They are captured and taken to the ape city where Dodge is given a lobotomy as part of an experiment. They find a culture of talking apes; chimpanzees are the scientist, orangutans ran the theocratic government and the gorillas the military. Two scientists, Cornelius (Roddy McDowall) and his wife Zira (Kim Hunter) adopt the now mute Taylor. They get in trouble for their controversial ideas that go against the sacred scrolls. In the end, it turns out that the planet of the apes is earth in the distant future.

Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)

Directed by: Ted Post

Written by: Paul Dehn

This one picks up shortly after the end of the first. In the forbidden zone on the planet, another space ship crashes. It is manned by Brent (James Franciscus) and the captain Maddox (Tod Andrews) who dies in the crash. They were on a mission to find out what happened to the first set of astronauts. They come across Taylor’s mate Nova (Linda Harrison) who shows them the ape city. Something dangerous has been going on in the forbidden zone, and the gorillas want to be proactive and invade. The enemy turns out to be intelligent humans who were mutated by radiation long ago, In their underground city (New York City) they have a religion centered around the worship of a world busting nuclear bomb. After a fight, Taylor reappears and explodes the device destroying the earth.

Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971)

Directed by: Don Taylor

Written by: Paul Dehn

There is an old saying among science fiction writers that you shouldn’t blow up the earth too soon; you might need it later. Since the last movie ended the world this one was set in their past, our present. Cornelius (Roddy McDowall) and Zira (Kim Hunter) managed to take a spacecraft and go back in time. They splash down on the Pacific coast of America and are taking into custody by the navy. The pair of talking apes is moved to a research facility where they are studied by Dr. Lewis Dixon (Bradford Dillman) and Dr. Stephanie Branton (Natalie Trundy). When word gets out about talking apes, Cornelius and Zira become celebrities. As it turns out there was a plague that killed all dogs and cats, so people have been using apes as pets. This escalated to outright slavery as the simians proved able to perform menial tasks. The government is afraid that the intelligent talking apes could cause a social revolution among the slave apes, so Cornelius and Zira go into hiding. Zira is pregnant, and they are taken in by a circus owner, Senor Armando (Ricardo Montalban). The parents are killed, but the baby chimp lives and can talk.

Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)

Directed by: J. Lee Thompson

Written by: Paul Dehn

Armando has been hiding the child of Zira and Cornelius for years at this point. Now grew Caesar (Roddy McDowall) is in the city helping to distribute flyers for the circus and is appalled by the cruel and demeaning treating his fellow apes are given at the hands of their human masters. Caesar begins to start a secret rebellion teaching the other apes to fight and defy their masters. This leads to a Spartacus style grand rebellion of apes against humans. When the victorious apes are about to execute the governor Caesar decides to show more humanity, then they were given and pardoned him forming an uneasy alliance between man and ape with the apes as the ruling species.

The battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)

Directed by: J. Lee Thompson

Written by: Paul Dehn

By now Caesar is an administrator and leader of the ape community. A gorilla leader Aldo (Claude Akins) is tired of the influence of the humans and wants nothing more than to wipe them out completely. There is a growing sentiment that favors this course of action. The Forbidden City, once a human city now in nuclear ruin, may hold some clues to Caesar’s parents and the future of the planet. Mutant humans in the Forbidden City begin an all-out war with the apes and the battle for the planet is in full swing.

This set is presented in 1080p video and DTS HD audio. Both are exceptional. The extra features are the same as on the DVD set with some presented in Bonus View format. This is one set that you should add to your growing Blu-ray collection; it is classic.

Posted 11/05/08                    Posted 01/19/2019

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