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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Action > Planet Of The Apes – The Legacy Collection (Fox DVD)

Planet Of The Apes – The Legacy Collection (Fox DVD Box Set)




Planet Of The Apes (1968)                                 B/B/C/A-

Beneath The Planet Of The Apes (1969/70)       B-/B-/C/B

Escape From The Planet Of The Apes (1971)     B-/B-/C/B

Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes (1972)      B-/B-/C/B

Battle For The Planet Of The Apes

– Extended Edition (1973)                                 C+/C+/C/C+

Behind The Planet Of The Apes (Documentary)  C+/C+/D/B



NOTE:  These films have been reissued in the Blu-ray format with more extras and better performance than this decent DVD set and you can read more about it at this link:





Now, the original review for this set…



The original Planet Of The Apes films are back and they are here in a brand new round of remastered upgrades on DVD.  For the 35th Anniversary of the original 1968 film, Fox issued a terrific DVD set with a 5.1 upgrade that included a DTS soundtrack.  You can read more about that two-disc set and the film at:





The new version of the original is the same transfer, but is a more basic single DVD edition in this new 6-disc set.  The good news is that some of the harshness issues with that sound have been cleaned up, so the DTS and Dolby 5.1 mixes here are slightly better than the original release, if missing all the extra goodies.  With digital High Definition approaching and constant interest in the original films and TV series not going away any time soon, Fox is issuing the 1970s animated series for the first time.


Though they do not always get the credit they deserve, the sequels are among the smartest and best in feature film history, as well as a transition for genre filmmaking from B-movie series to the A-budgeted blockbusters we have been getting since the early 1980s.  The sequels that followed written (or co-written) by the great Paul Dehn, whose mark on the James Bond series with Goldfinger (1964) still resonates on the entire genre today.


Beneath The Planet Of The Apes is an underrated sequel despite using so much footage in the beginning from the first film.  This was at a time when home video did not exist, but also made sense to revive the big-screen feel of the classic first film and move the story along.  This time, fellow Astronaut Brent (James Franciscus) has taken his ship and followed the trajectory Taylor (Charlton Heston) and company did in the first film.  He has arrived soon after Taylor’s disappeared and is found by the mute Nova (Linda Harrison) soon after he arrives.  He discovers on his own at first the upside down world and soon becomes its prey.  The Ape Government has become most increasingly Fascist, but something strange is going on in the infamous Forbidden Zone, where the truth about the Ape world lies.


Besides some new action sequences, good acting, Ted Post’s very good directing, interesting production design and other surprises, there is a new group of players in the madness and the climax includes the challenge met of more striking, innovate make-up that some at the time may have thought went too far.  Here is a sequel that did not repeat the original much and respected the intelligence of its audience, which is an ever-rare occurrence then or now.  Maurice Evans, James Gregory, Jeff Corey, Thomas Gomez, Don Pedro Colley and Victor Buono also star.


Escape From The Planet Of The Apes was made when the sequel did not have the blockbuster success of the original while interest in the Apes storyline was not over yet.  The also reliable director Don Taylor took over as Cornelius, Zira and a scientist friend find a way to activate Taylor’s old ship and find themselves in early 1970s Los Angeles.  This is a very comic, heart and soul installment that shows a lower budget would not stand in the way of a fine film and is a rare third installment of any series that works.  Kim Hunter and a returning Roddy McDowall are terrific, as are Eric Braeden, Bradford Dillman, Natalie Trundy, William Windom, Albert Salmi, John Randolph, M. Emmet Walsh, Norman Burton and Sal Mineo.


Up until the last few minutes, Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes is the darkest film in the franchise and remains a real achievement in its amazing ability to deal with race, politics, raw power and boldly offers an attempt at armed takeover of a government, making for fascinating comparisons to James McTeigue’s underrated big-screen adaptation of V For Vendetta.  Here, the child of Cornelius and Zira (Roddy McDowall again) is being hidden by Armando (Ricardo Montalban) in what is the last circus on earth.  The human police state has taken hold and with a virus that has wiped out all dog and cat life, apes have become the new pets and servant slaves.  How long can he keep Caesar (McDowall) hidden?  Veteran journeyman director J. Lee Thompson took the helm of this one, with Don Murray and Severn Darden rounding out the main cast.


The adult portion of the franchise was complete, but the popularity was growing with children, so Battle For The Planet Of The Apes was devised and it is not as good as the previous films by any means.  This time, apes and men are getting along, but how long will that last?  This DVD adds 4 minutes that do not make much of a difference, but smooth out the storyline slightly.  Singer/songwriter Paul Williams is a friendly Ape, John Huston plays The Lawgiver, Claude Akins is the mean warmongering Ape and Severn Darden is part of the militant human resistance.


The ever-terrific bonus documentary Behind The Planet Of The Apes, hosted by McDowall and offering all kinds of clips, stills, poster art, behind the scenes footage and memorabilia with its interviews runs a fine two hours and is one of the best such programs about any franchise that has ever been produced.  It ends before the Tim Burton remake and has thankfully not been modified to include it.


All five films are here in anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 presentations.  The first Apes already had an upgrade before and still looks good for the cleaning it got.  Like the first film, color and picture definition have some seriously marked improvements here, except in Battle For The Planet Of The Apes, which is not as improved.  Finally, you can see in more than enough scenes how nicely shot this series is far above lame Super 35mm and substandard digital-originated color from red-challenged High Definition video.  You can see it in flesh tones and natural locations.  These films were all processed in DeLuxe color and have some of the best work the lab ever did, built to last and endure, which is exactly what they have done.


The documentary is a decent-looking 1.33 X 1 throughout with various picture quality and originated in professional NTSC analog video.  It is surprising how good this can look at times.  All were shot in real anamorphic Panavision, except for Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes, which was shot in the equally terrific Todd A.O. 35 format by Bruce Surtees, A.S.C.  Leon Shamroy, A.S.C., shot the first film while Beneath The Planet Of The Apes was shot by Milton R. Krasner, A.S.C. and Escape From The Planet Of The Apes by Joseph F. Biroc, A.S.C.  That leaves Battle For The Planet Of The Apes, which was shot by Richard H. Kline, A.S.C.


Then there is the sound, including great music scores, innovate sound mixing and nicely recorded dialogue.  The sequels have all been remixed in Dolby Digital 5.1 like the first film had been and just to note again that the DTS is on the first film only.  It is even a little better here than on the anniversary set, which had some sound harshness as when the ship crash-lands in the lake at the beginning.  Beneath The Planet Of The Apes decoded nicely in Pro Logic with good surrounds in its older DVD version, while the film was originally a 4-track magnetic stereo theatrical release.  All the films sound good, and certainly better than the slightly stereo-boosted Chace Surround mixes they got back in the VHS and 12” LaserDisc days.  Beneath The Planet Of The Apes Limited Edition CD with music, excellent experimental electronic music and bonus tracks by composer Leonard Rosenman sounds even better still.  You can read about the score and how to get it while supplies last at:





The last three sequels were theatrical optical monophonic sound releases.  Jerry Goldsmith returned to do the score for Escape From The Planet Of The Apes, while Tom Scott scored Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes in what is a very underrated work.  It was paired with Rosenman’s score for Battle For The Planet Of The Apes in another terrific Limited Edition CD you can read more about at:





Again, the sound is better on these CDs that the DVDs, but the 5.1 mixes on these DVDs are improvements from the previous DVD and 12” LaserDisc releases and have the full film sound.  Too bad they are not in DTS like the first film, but these are nice upgrades.  Extras on each feature film DVD is limited to trailers for each of the five and some promos to push the series on home video, as well as still galleries.  These are repeats from the old DVDs and LaserDiscs, but it would have been a big mistake to exclude them.


As the 14 DVD Ultimate DVD Collection comes out with all these discs, the 2001 Burton film, the 4 DVDs of the great live action series and 2 DVD set of the underrated animated show, Fox will also be reissuing the 4 live action discs and issuing the animated series for the first time on its own as well.  We hope to cover both TV series next.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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