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Planet Of The Apes (2001)
Special Edition

review by Zach B. and Marc K.

 

 

Rated: PG-13 (Some sequences of action/violence)

Running Time: 124 minutes

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Tim Roth, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Clarke Duncan, Kris Kristofferson, Estella Warren, Paul Giamatti

Screenplay by: William Broyles, Jr. and Lawrence Konner & Mark Rosenthal

Directed by: Tim Burton

 

Studio: Fox

Retail Price: $26.98

Features:
Disc 1: Audio Commentary with Director Tim Burton, Audio Commentary with Composer Danny Elfman, Enhanced Viewing Mode, Cast and Crew Profiles, THX Optimizer

Disc 2: Simian Academy, Face Like A Monkey, Ape Couture, Chimp Symphony, OP. 37, On Location: Lake Powell, Screen Tests, Swinging From Trees, Multi Angle Featurettes, Extended Scenes, HBO Special, TV Spots, Music Promo, "Rule The Planet Remix" by Paul Oakenfold, Posters, Press Kit, Teaser Trailer, Theatrical Trailer, "Moulin Rouge" Trailer, "Dr. Dolittle 2" Trailer, Music Promo. DVD-ROM: Book Excerpts, Script, Storyboards

Specs: 2.20:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English DTS 5.1, Spanish Dolby Surround, English Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Chapter Selection (36 Chapters), Two-Disc Set, THX Certified

Released: November 20th, 2001

 

 

Planet of the Apes, originally a novel by Pierre Boulle, noted French author, was adapted into a film in 1968, starring Charlton Heston. Its success was unimaginable to 20th Century Fox Films-- it made nearly five times its budget. To the company who had known mostly poorly-recieved musicals in the years immediately preceding the film, it was a godsend. Sequel after sequel later -- four in all, Fox laid the film franchise (mostly) to rest; two series on television followed, and a re-release of all five films to theatres, including a blitz of merchandised goods, which was somewhat unusual for the time.

Fast-forward to thirty-three years later. Tim Burton (Edward Scissorhands, Sleepy Hollow) teams up with composer Danny Elfman and a who's-who list of associates for makeup, production design, and costumes. With a budget of $100 million, it made that and change -- $179 million at the end of its end-of-July to November 11, 2001 tenure at theatres. Besides Marky Mark, it also features Tim Roth (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Four Rooms), Helena Bonham Carter (Novocaine, Fight Club), and Michael Clarke Duncan (The Green Mile). While the film is more an homage to the 1968 film than it is an adaptation of the book, certainly fans didn't much notice. Watch for a cameo of Heston -- as a monkey, this time.

The film itself opens with Mark Wahlberg and a gang of astronauts (and monkeys) in a space station - perhaps the ISS? - in the year 2029. After his monkey is deployed to get up close and personal to a strange occurence they happen across, Wahlberg leaves to rescue the simian... However, it is for naught-- he finds himself taken years into the future, and crash-lands onto a planet filled with humans that could only be described as primal and intelligent and speaking chimps, aristocratic orangutans, and warlike gorillas whom rule the planet and employ humans as slaves, or even pets. Wahlberg looks to regain his freedom from this alien land, and finds an empathic chimp to assist him in his effort. The conclusion of the film is stunning, simply, if only because of the amass of apes collected.

While the film is certainly aesthetically pleasing, this reviewer feels that Burton tried to cram too much story into not enough time, and, ultimately, was limited by the screenplay. Nonetheless, taken at face value, it's certainly a decent movie.

 

 

"Planet Of The Apes" is presented in a THX certified 2.20:1 anamorphic widescreen (appears to be 2.20:1) transfer that truly ranks as one of Fox's best transfers and one of the best live action transfers to date. Black levels and detail are really amazing, showing off a fine sharpness and clarity the transfer has to offer. There is some deep color saturation that doesn't go borderline which is great. Colors do not bleed and are very refined, with great fleshtones and landscapes about. Colors and areas change constantly and change from dark to light often, and the image keeps up with it. I didn't notice any blemishes (okay I found one), scratches or pieces of dirt, which made me very happy. The only real flaws I could find was some slight edge ehancment, plus a tiny bit of noise here and there. There's some slight visible grain too. A dead on transfer, whereas showing off the glorious sets, costumes, makeup and scenary the film offers.

 

The new "Planet Of The Apes" is given Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 English tracks, both of which are quite strong (there is also a Spanish Dolby Surround track). Whew, talk about activity! Surrounds here are plentiful in nature and come in all sorts of forms. From the rather loud and booming finale, to spaceships flying and taking off, there's a lot to take in here that I found to be a treat to the ears. Apes grunting and screeching, the battles in the film and the fighting, there's truly a lot to take in here, not to mention Danny Elfman's awesome and spectacular score that is mixed. There's a fine balance to the mixes... dialogue, sound effects and music do not overpower one another, so you get a clean listening experience. As far as which is better, my edge goes to the DTS track. It feels a bit more fuller, not to mention some more "oomph" and sharpness to it. Still, this is home theater material no matter which 5.1 you choose. Also included are English closed captions and English captions via the disc.

 

Wow, there's a lot to go ape over here (pun intended). On the first disc, we find two audio commentary. The first Audio Commentary with Director Tim Burton is a bit akward, but I found to be enjoyable. I don't think so many are going to fall in love with this track and people will be disappointed, but I quite enjoyed. It has some flaws, but those who stick with it will get something out of it, that's for sure. Burton isn't always so screen specific, and he does pause quite a lot, but not for too long and tries to contribute something. He talks about getting the project and original skepticism. He talks about actors being monkeys, working with real chimps, some technological aspects about making the film and some cool stuff in general. He also has some nice stuff to say when talking about the ending. I was happy this was included, since Burton announced he'd do a commentary and the last second, and is pretty good.

Second one is an Audio Commentary with Composer Danny Elfman. Basically, this is an isolated score and Elfman comes in here and there to offer his insight. Thankfully, all of this flows really, really nice. You get to hear his great score, and then Elfman going on how he got the project (well, he and Burton always collaborate usually), completing it, how he wanted the score to work and to fit and the like. Solid job here.

The picture-in-picture features show various aspects of how the film was created at assorted scenes; under enhanced viewing mode. A decent feature. Informational, if nothing else. There are some Cast and crew Profiles. Pretty basic, not a whole lot to be gleaned here, some Nuon features for Fox DVD players. Nothing past better menus, apparently and THX audio/video optimization tests. Just to make sure the contrast is correct and your 5.1 stereo system is setup correctly.

On the second disc is where we have our abundance. Simian Academy -- "more eloquent than Ape School" -- details how everybody, including one hundred and fifty extras, practiced their ape posture and gestures. Sound here is sometimes less-than-great, but it's quite interesting to watch.

Face Like a Monkey discusses the makeup used in Planet -- really, quite amazing things, here. Shows how molds of the hands, arms, head and torso were made of all the primary actors, and how exactly everything came into being.

Ape Couture shows off the costumes in a nearly screen-test format. Tim Burton mostly gave control to the lead designer in that region, except instructing her that the gorilla's helmets should be spirals, and there should be a lot of red, so it's interesting that that part of the film blended so well with the rest.

Chimp Symphony Op. 37 shows the film's orchestra performing the main title, with Elfman conducting. After seeing him tell the band to try it again.. and again.. and again.. one wonders whether he's Kubrick incarnate, or what. Nonetheless, one gets a feeling for how composers work their magic to get things to turn out right.

On Location in Lake Powell production design and scenery at a lot of places, but especially Lk. Powell. The very styled tents are still something to behold, and it's shown that the production staff had to both bring in more water and heat said water because the coast line was lowering every day, and it was becoming too cold for humans and even horses to tread through. It's worth noting the original filmed at the very same lake.

Very interesting is the Screen Tests section. Culled from hours of footage before filming began, here we see footage for make-up tests, costume tests, group tess, stunt test and movement test. Some of the screens are broken into four, and when you click play next to each little screen, you can hear that individual audio. Nicely done.

Swinging From Trees lasts a bit under ten minutes, and shows behind the scenes footage as well as interviews (such as with stunt coodinator Charlie Croughwell) about how some of the swinging stunts were done.

Under the Multi-Angle Featurettes, for four different scenes ("Limbo's Quadrangle," "Sandar's Escape," "Escape From Ape City," and "In the Forest") we can watch behind the scenes footage with different audio tracks and angles. We can only see the final result, production art and the script. Very cool and well laid out.

We also have Five Extended Scenes in rough quality (has time codes) and two channel sound. These are interesting to watch to see what was cut, and we can see why. The additions really don't do much. The scenes are "Launch The Monkey," "Dinner," "Kill Them All," "Ari In the Trees," and "She's A Chimpanzee."

In the more promo section, we have the usual HBO Special with some cheesy frame (as these HBO specials usually have) involving Michael Clarke Duncan. Throw in behind the scenes footage, music, clips from the film and your assorted promo intrerviews, and you have your usual HBO first look special.

Rounding the disc out is the Teaser Trailer the Theatrical Trailer in non-anamorphic widescreen and two channel sound, the nice Rule The Planet Remix Music Video by Paul Oakenfold, a still gallery of Posters and the Press Kit, a Music Promo and some TV Spots. Oh yeah... trailers for Moulin Rouge and Dr. Dolittle 2. On the DVD-ROM side, we have some book excerpts and the script as well as storyboards. Not too shabby.

 

It's a decent remake, but "Planet Of The Apes" ranks as 2001's best DVD releases. Loaded with great goodies on making the movie, an incredible presentation and a nice price, this is a two disc set worth buying for showing off your home theater and for the nifty supplements. If you haven't seen it, it's worth a rent, but fans... go out and get it!