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Customer Review

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Definitive Box Set, 11 Dec. 2011
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This review is from: Planet of the Apes: 5-Movie Collector's Edition [Blu-ray] [1968] (Blu-ray)
So how do you give a star rating to a film series of such varying quality? Well the films almost speak for themselves. Chances are you have seen at least some of them before... If you have, then be prepared to see them as spruced up as possible, with some genually informative extras.. if not, prepare for one of the most unique movie franchises out there.. in fact, the franchise that really set a trend in having merchandising and tie-ins, before Star Wars came along and ran with the concept. What's fascinating now watching these, along with the short documentaries accompanying each movie, is the discussion around the issues of the day which influenced, and maybe even spawned, the movies themselves. The writers of the screenplays wanted to use a fantasy world to explore issues of race and civil unrest that they might not otherwise get to tell... so while you can take these movies as adventure fantasies or action movies on one level, it's looking at them obliquely that one gets the roundest experience of them.
That said, the quality of the movies is most definitely variable. Planet of the Apes (*****) is the classic one here even if the effects and style have somewhat dated, and comes with a plethora of extras in the form of stills, trailers, the 2 hour documentary narrated by Roddy MacDowall which explores the whole world of Planet of the Apes through all the movies and TV series, games, vintage documentaries and more. Charlton Heston plays the astronaut who was happy to go on a long term mission since he is cynical about Earth's chances of survival anyway, only to find himself on a world where the social order is upside down - apes are the intelligent species.. man (and not forgetting Linda Harrison as woman) is mute and the inferior species. The commentary however comes more often than not through the ape hierarchy and how they treat each other, than how they treat man. Certainly, watching it again will remind you what an ill conceived exercise Tim Burton's remake was. Beneath the Planet of the Apes (**) benefits from at least a cameo from Charlton Heston, with James Franciscus gamely trying to hold his own, against a script which falls woefully short of the first one, eschewing the subtleties of message for a blatant anti war tone. Its tale of a weird society of mutant humans worshipping an atomic bomb, climaxes in a nihilistic ending which fails to shock or involve in anything like the way the first did. Charlton Heston adds the only element of class in the exercise. By the time of Escape from Planet of the Apes (***) came along the following year, the production values were a shadow of their former glories, but despite an uneven tone moving from broad humour in the first half through to serious and bleak in the second half this story works surprisingly well, as Roddy MacDowell and Kim Hunter return from the first movie, having escaped the planet in Heston's spacecraft (some of the ideas are best just accepted rather than thought about too hard..) and gone back in time to `current day'. The change to ape being the odd one out in a human society adds a needed fresh twist. Ricardo Montalban in a small role is a treat. Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (***) suffers from lowest of all the budgets, and darkest least family friendly in its levels of violence as we chart the beginning of the Apes rise to supremacy as they start revolution. However, given the budget they had, they did a good job, with MacDowell giving arguably his best performance in the series, and the alternative directors cut here not only restores some of the cuts made for violence (don't expect too much, it's just more tomato ketchup on display), but restores the original bleaker ending, which fits the tone of the movie and indeed the movie series much better than the studio enforced more hopeful ending in the theatrical version. Battle for the Planet of the Apes (**) at least brings the story full circle, but is so watered down and lacking a coherent narrative drive or underpinning idea, it is the weakest of the series, and it is probably good they stopped where they did - on the big screen at least. The second * is based on goodwill carried over from the previous movies more than anything. Look out for a cameo from John Huston, if you can recognise him. And if nothing else, it's fun debating the meaning of that final shot...
All in all, as a package this is not as `must see' as it once was, but good entertainment with enough issues woven in to give it an additional dimension. There's a nice 20 minute to half an hour documentary exploring personalities and themes of each movie on each disc. Worth capturing at the bargain price it is currently available at. Go Ape, and treat yourself..
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 28 Dec 2012 17:50:41 GMT
This is not a definitive box set becouse it does not include extended version of "Battle for the Planet Apes" whihc is available on US boxset... your review is misleading
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