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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Action > Literature > Politics > Planet Of The Apes 40th Anniversary Evolution Blu-ray Collection (Fox Blu-ray w/Beneath/Escape/Conquest & Battle sequels + hardcover coffee table book)

Planet Of The Apes 40th Anniversary Evolution Blu-ray Collection (Fox Blu-ray w/Beneath/Escape/Conquest & Battle sequels + hardcover coffee table book)


Book: A-     Picture: B     Sound: B     Extras/Films:



Planet Of The Apes (1968)   B+/A-

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

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

Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes (1972)   B/Theatrical Cut: B/Unrated: B+

Battle For The Planet Of The Apes (1973)   C+/C+



We have previous reviewed the entire original theatrical film series in its Legacy Collection DVD set, which itself has links to our coverage of limited edition CD soundtracks to the sequels and the earlier 35th Anniversary DTS DVD Set of the first film:





Before receiving this terrific new set, we received the original Apes film on Blu-ray and reviewed it at this link:





Now we get to look at the sequels, which are too often underrated and are picking up traction with new viewers as well as older fans.  Since I have already discussed them in detail when reviewing the DVD box set of all five original films in the link above, I will move onto the technical aspects of the new Blu-rays and the extras, except for the fact that Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes includes the worldwide debut of its longer, darker Unrated cut that fans have been waiting for too long.  It succeeds Beneath as my favorite of the sequels and had it been released this way to begin with, Battle would have been a better film and that could have either inspired another good feature or two, and/or gave the first two underrated TV series that followed a better chance.



The 1080p 2.35 X 1 AVC @ 28 MBPS digital High Definition image on Beneath and 1080p 2.35 X 1 AVC @ 27 MBPS digital High Definition image on the rest of the sequels are about evenly matched, all having some grain and Video Black issues, but outdoing their DVD counterparts and all offering at their best some very sharp, clean and colorful moments that show how impressive the films looked at their best.  Unlike the first film, the footage is not as choppy, yet there are other issues in each transfer.  Beneath has the bad optical printing the beginning of footage from the end of the first film and one it gets to the newly shot footage, goes from great to what looks like second generation footage.  Escape can also be uneven, but like Beneath, shows the most improved performance over their DVD counterparts.  I was expecting Conquest to be a knockout based on the DVD’s performance, but then I expected the same from the first film and in both cases, the Blu-ray’s improved performance showed new flaws in Video Black and detail.  I also hoped the Unrated cut would be a transformed print, but it was no different than the shorter cut.  Still, all five discs have more than enough great moments that it will give fans and other viewers new respect for the series and with all show with real anamorphic lenses using the full 35mm film frame for higher fidelity than secondary Super 35mm film (all used Panavision, except Conquest, which used the competing Todd-AO 35 format so well) that you can see why they remain so popular and important.


The DTS HD Master Audio (MA) 5.1 lossless mix on the first film was a bit better, but the improvement is much better for the sequels since they were only in lesser, standard Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes and though all five have audio (like dialogue) that show the age of the films, I enjoyed the upgrades more than enough to recommend over previous audio presentations from DVD and the PCM on the old 12” LaserDiscs, including the D-BOX function for those who have that system.  They still have some issues that could be fixed a bit.  However, these play nicely with their limits and outperform the Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono options and occasional foreign language Pro Logic and 5.1 Dolby options also included.  The sequels also offer isolated music tracks in DTS HD 5.1 and though they are a nice new extra, they tend to be a little lower in volume than the audio in the film and are not successors to the limited edition soundtrack CDs Film Score Monthly issued, as reviewed elsewhere on this site and linked to in some of these texts.


Other extras include all the previous goodies from the DVDs and new making of featurettes (lasting between 15 – 20 minutes) produced in HD for the sequels and stills for each.  Escape also adds a vintage featurette of director Don Taylor directing the film, Conquest has that priceless longer and darker version of the film & a vintage featurette of director J. Lee Thompson directing that film and Battle repeats the extended edition from the DVD that made hardly any difference to this critic.



You can get all five Apes films on Blu-ray separately, but you would miss the terrific hardcover book imbedded in the disc-holding cover is the biggest extra of all here.  Co-written by film scholars Lee Pfeiffer & Dave Worrall, this lavishly illustrated 200-page book starts with an introduction to the Science Fiction genre and moves into how the first film came together, followed by its success, its sequels and its amazing success.  I liked the promo materials, rare stills and pictures of memorabilia from the films and the authors have a reputation for being very thorough.  They produce an excellent magazine know as Cinema Retro more than worth your time.



For even more Apes, try the links to the two underrated TV series:


1974 Live-Action Series



1975 Animated Series




-   Nicholas Sheffo


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