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HTF REVIEW: Planet Of The Apes

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#1 of 57 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted November 01 2001 - 11:59 AM

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Planet Of The Apes

Most of what needs to be said about my
personal thoughts on this film can be read
in my Sneak Peeks: Planet of the Apes review.

I'll basically recap that the original Planet
Of The Apes
is my favorite all-time science
fiction film. The movie captured the hearts of
fans because of its underlying political theme and
memorable characters.

Tim Burton's remake lacks everything that made
the original film so great. This film has no
depth nor likeable characters in it. Whereas the
original film brought us across deserts and sea,
this remake looks like it's the product of a
soundstage and small campgrounds.

Still, this new Planet of the Apes does
hold up on its own merits. The film is grittier
than the original. The make-up is tremendously
more realistic as well as the manner in which the
apes walk, talk and socialize amongst each other.
Tim Burton has gone to great lengths to bring more
monkey into this movie.

Though I was somewhat disappointed after I saw
this film theatrically, I have had the opportunity
to watch this film twice on DVD since then. With
each viewing in a more personal environment, the
film plays much better. In other words, it's growing
on me and I like the film more now than I originally

Perhaps the reason for me warming up to this
movie is the fact that Fox Home Entertainment has
put out its most elaborate 2-Disc Special Edition
to date. In fact, given the circumstances that
production began on this disc the day the film
was released, Fox should be commended for the 3
months of work that went into this release.

Let me take the opportunity to walk you through
this Special Edition and perhaps give you some
pointers along the way....

The DVD begins with the standard Fox promo, which
I had hoped after a year would have been updated
to include this year's 5-star releases. It's not.

The menu design is nothing short of incredible.
You fly over rough terrain, passing over the Apes
camp and circling an Ape soldier standing guard.
An elaborate high-tech menu lets you choose
scene selections, special features and language.

Rarely do I watch a DVD more than once. I had
to make an exception with this title. I would
suggest everyone watch the film straight through
first. Then, go back to the MENU, and click on
SPECIAL FEATURES. You want to select
ENHANCED VIEWING MODE, which will take your
APES viewing to a higher level of enjoyment. While
watching the film, picture boxes pop up throughout
which give enhanced information to the scene you are
watching. For instance, Screenwriter Lawrence
may appear and talk about how the scene
was originally written and what changes had to be
made. Actress Estella Warren may pop up and
talk about how she used her horse riding experience
to do a very dangerous stunt crossing a lake. What
is more incredible, is that many times these pop-up
boxes will show you the scene being filmed from
the crew's vantage point as you are watching the
actual scene. There is so much cool information
shown to you that you will want to watch the film a
second time with the Enhanced Viewing Mode

Before I go on to talk about more of the Special
Features that appear on disc two, let me discuss
how this DVD looks and sounds.

Without a doubt, Planet of the Apes is a
tantalizing sonic and visual experience on DVD.
The transfer and audio quality of this disc far
exceeds any other live-action title on the market.
I can only compare it to X-MEN, which still
remains one of the best DVD presentations to date.

Nothing is overdone in the transfer and audio
department. Picture and audio just sort of
naturally blend with each other giving the viewer
an incredible Home Theater experience. From the
opening credits, the 5.1 DTS audio rumbles and roars
across the entire sound field. Turn up the volume
and your subwoofer will literally shake the room
with the beating drums of Danny Elfman's soundtrack.
The entire sound mix of this DVD is extremely well
balanced with constant rear surround effects that
are evenly balanced with the action up front.


I wish I could talk about everything that is
included on Disc 2. It would take me more pages
than I care to write (and more time than you care
to spend reading) to fully describe the material
that is packed into this supplemental disc. What
I will do instead is touch upon some of my favorite

Pop in the disc and again we are treated to a
MENU that will just blow your mind. As we circle
different vantage points of an Ape soldier wielding
his spear, we can choose from 6 different categories/
segments that the supplemental area is broken down

Making of Planet of The Apes features 7
chapters of its own, alone. I started with
Simian Academy which takes a look at Ape
School, where all the actors had to train to walk
and perform like real Apes. Hosted by stunt
performer and movement coach, Terry Notary, we
look at actors learning the movements and mannerisms
that will make their role more realistic. Even
a chimpanzee is trained to climb into the space
pod, get used to the capsule itself, and finally
give the big "thumbs up".

In Face Like a Monkey, award winning make-up
artist Rick Baker talks about his initial discussions
with Director Tim Burton about how he wanted the
Apes to look. Rick Baker is shown applying the
test makeup to himself first (as is his usual
standard on every film he does). Rick uses computer
graphics to first view how different make-up will
look before actually applying it to the actors
themselves. We are also treated to watching both
Tim Roth and Michael Clarke Duncan
having the ape appliances and make-up applied to
them. Anyone that has ever had an interest in
how extensive a process goes into turning a human
into an ape is going to be thrilled with this
very detailed segment.

Now this is incredible. Never before have I seen
a segment like Screen Tests in which using
your DVD remote, you can switch between 4 split
screens that concentrate on MAKEUP TESTS, STUNT
Obviously Fox used this primarily as a gimmicky
way to put a lot of cool material all in one space
where you, the viewer, can control what part of it
to watch.

In Chimp Symphony we get to sit in on a
soundstage recording of the Apes soundtrack,
featuring the very talented composer, Danny
. This is actually the first time I
have ever seen Danny Elfman, whose music I have
been a fan of since BATMAN. It is incredible to
watch Mr. Elfman show us how the music in this
film speaks to him.

Segment Two of the supplemental disc is entitled
Multi-Angle Featurettes which is another
incredible FIRST for DVD. Imagine looking at one
of 4 selected scenes with a navigation bar at the
bottom that lets you remotely look at the scene
as it was filmed, or, as the production art mapped
out the scene, or, as the script had intended the
original scene to be blocked. It's a really cool
interactive experience that gives you different
perspectives on an individual scene.

Segment Three of the suplemental area deals
with 5 Extended scenes that are presented
in raw form. These are mostly extensions of
scenes already used in the movie, but were removed
because they ultimately slowed down the pacing.

Segment Four presents us with Promotional Works
which concentrates on the promoting of the film.
There is a very witty HBO Special included, as are
a multitude of television spots and movie trailers.
Don't miss the "Rule The Planet Remix" that gives us
a taste of the wonderful Elfman soundtrack, combined
with stylishly displayed clips from the movie.

Segment Five is devoted to DVD rom content which
I just did not have time to personally review.
The packaging boasts script-to-screen comparison
and web links.

Finally, Segment Six gives us a gallary of still
images of conceptual art depicting scenes as well
as the many props, flags and other initial ideas
that went into the early production of this film.

In Close....

Fox Home Entertainment has always set new standards
for Special Edition DVDs. I don't know how the
studio continually puts out Special Edition product
that tops the product that came out before it. More
than any studio, Fox knows how to do DVD right --
from transfer to menu design to content. Once again,
Fox has produced a DVD that sets a new standard.
Planet of the Apes is the most feature
enriched and graphically enhanced DVD on the market
to date. Whether you liked the movie or not, this
DVD takes you beyond the film experience and places
you behind the camera with every single detail
revealed how a major film is produced. This is the
reason why DVD was invented.

Release Date: November 20, 2001

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Ronald Epstein (pronounced like the English "Ronald Epstein")
Circa 2000
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#2 of 57 OFFLINE   SteveBjr


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Posted November 01 2001 - 12:14 PM

I'll definately be picking this DVD up...i haven't seen the movie yet but i'm sure it'll be worth it just for all the extras. I've heard mixed opinions on the movie itself. Can't wait to pick it up.

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#3 of 57 OFFLINE   Joseph Young

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Posted November 01 2001 - 12:20 PM

Ron, thanks for the info! I never caught this one in theaters and was on the fence about watching it all. Needless to say, judging from your love of the original, you've swayed me to a rental at least on the new version.

If anything, this disc sounds like reference material! (Now if only we can get the original POTA R1 anamorphic).


#4 of 57 OFFLINE   Justin Lane

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Posted November 01 2001 - 12:26 PM

Looks like another top notch release from Fox. I, like Ron thought this new version was missing something compared to the originals, but it was still a very entertaining film nonetheless. I can't wait to fire Apes up in my home in 5.1.


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#5 of 57 OFFLINE   Rob Lutter

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Posted November 01 2001 - 12:40 PM

looks like another great release by Fox... I will have to pick this one up.

One question Ron... is the case double-wide (ALA Big Trouble in Little China) or single-wide (ALA Cast Away)?

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#6 of 57 OFFLINE   Chad Gregory

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Posted November 01 2001 - 12:43 PM


I am almost positive that this has already been confirmed as a Castaway type case.


#7 of 57 OFFLINE   Alex Spindler

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Posted November 01 2001 - 12:53 PM

Great review! I had seen this in the theater and was indifferent. You've definitely promted this to a rental at least.

#8 of 57 OFFLINE   Blu



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Posted November 01 2001 - 01:02 PM

I completely agree, the new POTA lacked a something I just can't put my finger on it....wait....wait....OH YEAH! A PLOT, Interesting writing, direction, substance, unpredictablity, freshness........
I doubt if the extras on the DVD can compensate THAT much.

#9 of 57 OFFLINE   Brad_W



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Posted November 01 2001 - 01:16 PM

I thought Tim Burton's version was good and entertaing (I will buy it on DVD), BUT this is what I didn't like when strictly comparing it to the original:

1. The original film had more to do with science and especially religion. Burton's film barely touched this at all. Best scene from the original: Hear no evil, Speak no evil, See no evil.
2. Burton's film felt more like an action film rather than a serious social commentary.
3. What happened to Cornelius!?!

Of course, Burton's film viewed as a seperate film and not a remake would void this opinion. However, that is hard to do. I enjoyed Burton's ending (I won't open that can o' worms again. I learn from mistakes!) and his use of trickery towards the end for all us POTA-ers definately got me.

My opinion.

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[Edited last by Brad_W on November 01, 2001 at 08:17 PM]

#10 of 57 OFFLINE   Dave H

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Posted November 01 2001 - 01:18 PM

I might buy apes "used" when BlockBuster has 50 used copies to sell and when they are marked down to 9.99. I wouldn't pay more for it.

#11 of 57 OFFLINE   Nick Graham

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Posted November 01 2001 - 05:14 PM

There's no way I'm gonna end up buying this at retail. As with Final Fantasy, I just can no longer justify buying a DVD of a sucky film just because the audio, video, and supplements are top notch.

#12 of 57 OFFLINE   Elbert Lee

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Posted November 01 2001 - 06:41 PM

I enjoyed this movie, but agree that it was hardly a landmark film like the original. I "re-imagined" about 70% of the original and did not add much else. I agree that most of it felt like it was filmed on a couple of soundstages. Sorry, but most audiences are seeing through all of the comic book movie adaptions and taking the POTA film in this direction is definitely a step backward in film making. Watching this movie made me ask whether Burton pocketed half of the production money. Even the scenes in space felt cheaply done. Waterworld, for example, would not have been considered a dud if they cut the production cost down to a soundstage instead of building a real city in the ocean. But, POTA is already on land and REAL treas are readily available. Even filming it at Disney's "Jungle Cruise" would have looked a lot more authentic.
All of this aside, I thought this was Burton's least visionary film. It felt very straight forward and nothing like his previous movies. I can't help but wonder how much better it would have been as a Emmerich/Devlin movie.


#13 of 57 OFFLINE   Luis A

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Posted November 01 2001 - 07:02 PM

I have not seen POTA yet and I'm very excited to be getting it on dvd soon. Even with mixed reviews I'm sure it will live up to my expectations. I will not go into this movie comparing it to the original, that would be a mistake IMO. I'm anxious to hear the DTS mix in my theater, so POTA will be a definite purchase. Thanks for the review Ron. Posted Image

#14 of 57 OFFLINE   Chad Gregory

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Posted November 01 2001 - 07:03 PM

I can't help but wonder how much better it would have been as a Emmerich/Devlin movie.

You can't possibly be serious... I think that you meant to say how much worse it would have been.


#15 of 57 OFFLINE   Hakan Powers

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Posted November 02 2001 - 01:11 AM

I had the opportunity, together with Ron and about 40 more people, to screen POTA at Fox during our California meet.

I can safely say that I agree with Ron about the transfer of this movie to DVD. It is one of, if not the, most gorgeous transfers I've ever seen.

"Film like" only begins to describe it.

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#16 of 57 OFFLINE   Coressel


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Posted November 02 2001 - 02:13 AM

Is there any mention or description in the extras of this disc of the alleged "alternate endings" that were rumored before the film was released?

#17 of 57 OFFLINE   Neil Joseph

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Posted November 02 2001 - 03:35 AM

Wow. It seems like the bar is being raised almost on a weekly basis with the arrival of the latest new releases. I am one of those that loved the old movies and I also love this one as well. I will definitely add this to my collection.

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#18 of 57 OFFLINE   Ron-P



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Posted November 02 2001 - 04:13 AM

I am sooooo looking forward to Nov. 20th.

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#19 of 57 OFFLINE   Gareth Flynn

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Posted November 02 2001 - 04:25 AM

I don't know how the studio continually puts out Special Edition product that tops the product that came out before it.

Easy - they get David Prior on board Posted Image
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#20 of 57 OFFLINE   John Berggren

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Posted November 02 2001 - 04:45 AM

Although this film was lacking, I love Burton, and think it's a wonderful film to look at. I'd be buying the film just to complete my Burton collection, but in addition, it's a Fox DVD with a great transfer and some excellent features. I'll enjoy this one.

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