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Planet of the Apes Ultimate Collection
DVD disk
04.21.2006 By: Scott Weinberg
Planet of the Apes Ultimate Collection order

Charlton Heston
Roddy McDowall
Kim Hunter


star Printer-Friendly version
It's about 14 whole discs full of apocalyptic insanity -- simian style!
I've reviewed some mega-sets in my time but this ... this is truly something. Since we have a whole bunch of platters to cover, let's just break things down as easily as possible.

Disc 1 -- PLANET OF THE APES (1968) -- One of the finest sci-fi movies ever made, this one just never gets old. It's about an astronaut who crash-lands on a strange planet where simians rule the roost and humans are feral little freaks. Stocked with smart satire, exciting action, lofty concepts, and a snarky sense of humor, the original APES still holds up as well as ever.

Disc 2 -- POTA '68 Supplemental Material (see below)

Disc 3 -- BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES (1970) -- Another astronaut crashes down on ape-world and tries to discover the whereabouts of his predecessor. Needless to say, the angry apes are back -- and they don't seem to like humans all that much. Plus there's an all-new race of subterranean mutant freaks, and these knuckleheads live to worship an unblasted nuclear bomb! It's a so-so sequel that certainly doesn't cast any sort of shadow on the original, but ape-fans will probably have a pretty good time. Plus the flick's got one of the bleakest finales I've ever seen in a sequel!.

Disc 4 -- ESCAPE FROM THE PLANET OF THE APES (1971) -- Three of Earth's future's more amiable apes figure out time-travel and show up in our modern world, full of questions and friendliness ... but ultimately forced to take it on the lam. Situations get stickier once one of the apes is killed and another one of 'em ends up ... pregnant! Slight and silly, to be sure, but apparently there's still some goofy good fun to be found in the series!

Disc 5 -- CONQUEST OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (1972) -- Taking place after Part 3, but before Parts 1 & 2, CONQUEST delivers a future in which humanity is just beginning to enjoy the domestication (and slavery) of primates. This will of course lead to all sorts of revolt and revolution ... and only the now grown-up baby from Part 3's mommy monkey can ... destroy mankind. (It all makes a lot more sense in the movie, believe me.)

Disc 6 -- BATTLE FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES (1973) -- The fourth and final sequel is where things started to really get a bit silly. A continuation of Part 4, this one deals with the tensions that inevitably arise when man is kept as slave/pet by the new leaders of the Earth: Los Ape-os. A band of humans and apes head back to the forbidden city to retrieve an old recording, only to earn the violent wrath of a bunch of bizarrely well-armed mutants. (It should be noted that this version of BATTLE contains 10 never-before-seen minutes of extra footage, so there: I just mentioned it. I couldn't spot the new material, though I'm hardly an Ape-ologist.)

Discs 7, 8, 9 & 10 -- The PLANET OF THE APES TV series (1974) -- Here we have a barely-related-to-the-movies TV program that ran a mere 14 episodes, despite airing during the height of Ape-mania. All things considered, it's not a bad little piece of mid-70s nostalgia. Two astronauts crash-land in ape-land, make good pals with an ape called Galen, and spend the next 13 episodes running from the evil General Orko while trying to help prevent a bunch of cave-dwelling humans from becoming dead. Fun to see Roddy McDowall playing his third (!) different monkey in the series, but it's pretty clear why this spin-off never made it out of its first season: The adventures were pretty darn redundant.

Discs 11 & 12 -- RETURN TO THE PLANET OF THE APES (1975) -- So once you go through four sequels and a TV series, the only logical step is ... Saturday Morning Cartoon Show! Yep, PLANET OF THE APES even made it into animated form, if only for 13 episodes. Of interest only to hardcore APES completists, but it's worthy of a few quizzical glances on a bored Tuesday night. (I watched two episodes and I doubt I'll ever watch all 13.)

Disc 13 -- PLANET OF THE APES (2001) -- Here we have Tim Burton's misbegotten remake. (To this day I still think it's Burton's only BAD movie.) With Mark Wahlberg as a bland astronaut, Estella Warren as a bland hottie, and the awesome Helena Bonham Carter stuck beneath 6 pounds of latex, this remake is an absolute chore to sit through. I remember disliking the flick upon its theatrical release, but I aimed to give it a complete second chance last night. And I still think it's a boring, confused, unnecessary mess of a remake. With, yes, a truly retarded ending.

Disc 14 -- POTA '01 Supplemental Material (see below)

Let's do it just like before!

(Keep in mind that of all the extras in this package, none are new. The POTA '68 and '01 extras are precisely the same ones found on those films' previous and respective 2-discers.)

Disc 1 -- Two audio commentaries: one from composer Jerry Goldsmith, and the other from APES make-up artist John Chambers and actors Roddy McDowall, Natalie Trundy, and Kim Hunter. There's also a text commentary from author and APES expert Eric Greene. I recommend the text option combined with the cast commentary. Kill two birds with one stone! (Sorry, Goldsmith, I'll get back to you later.)

Disc 2 -- Treasure alert under the heading Exploring the Apes! BEHIND THE PLANET OF THE APES is a 2-hour retrospective documentary that's absolutely excellent. Starting with the original short story and going all the way from the original flick to the worldwide APES insanity, this all-encompassing feature-length doco is an absolute joy. Dig through disc 2 for even more tidbits: make-up tests, on-set home movie footage, and a bunch of old featurettes called PLANET OF THE APES featurette (1968), A Look Behind the Planet of the Apes (1972), Don Taylor Directs ESCAPE FROM THE PLANET OF THE APES, and J. Lee Thompson Directs CONQUEST OF THE PLANET OF THE APES.

Under Publicity you'll find original theatrical trailers for the first five movies, a few text film reviews, and a bunch of theatrical posters. Click galleries for some original sketches by costume designer Morton Haack and a regular still gallery. And under Ape Phenomenon you'll see a handful of Ape Merchandise and Ape Collections.

Discs 3, 4, 5 & 6 -- The sequel discs contain some skimpy extras: Cast Lists, Photo Galleries, and all the aforementioned theatrical trailers.

Discs 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 & 12 -- Neither the TV series platters nor the cartoon discs contain any extras.

Disc 13 -- For disc 1 of Burton's remake you get an enhanced viewing mode, which allows you to get some nifty mini-featurettes during the main feature (although the extra stuff is NOT available separately, which is annoying), a pair of solo audio commentaries (one with director Tim Burton, the other with composer Danny Elfman), and a bunch of cast & crew profiles.

Disc 14 -- Under The Making of the Apes we have a variety of featurettes: Simian Academy (24 min., actors learning to act like (and work with) apes), Face Like a Monkey (30 min., apes masks, make-up, and prosthetics), Ape Couture (6 min., apes costumes), Screen Tests (choose between make-up, costume, group, stunt, and movement tests via multi-angle), Chimp Symphony Op. 37 (9 min., Elfman on scoring), On Location - Lake Powell (12 min., on-set antics), and Swinging From the Trees (10 min., stuntwork).

Under Multi-Angle Featurettes you'll find a bunch of click-centric angle-switchings ... but the multi-angle stuff has never been my bag, so I switch on over to heading #3 (Extended Scenes) to check out Launch the Monkey, Dinner, Kill Them All, Ari in the Trees, and She's a Chimpanzee.

Heading #4 is called Promotional Works, and it's there you'll find the original HBO promo special, Paul Oakenfeld's Rule the Planet Remix, a teaser, a trailer, six TV spots, a posters & press kit gallery, and a soundtrack promo.

Section #5 is a DVD-ROM thing and #6 is a pretty big stills gallery.

Available separately is the Legacy Box Set, which offers the original APES, all four sequels, and a supplemental disc that includes the mega-awesome 2-hour documentary. For those on a budget (or those who simply don't need to own a huge and fuzzy APES head), the Legacy Box is the way to go. For the collectible-hunters, go get the head!
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