For the 40th anniversary of the release of Planet of the Apes, 20th Century Fox re-released all the movies on Blu-Ray today, including the original with a slew of extras, and a box set of all five films. Here is a review of the Blu-Ray release of the original movie. See the Sci-Fi Movie Store for all the individual movies (and DVD releases as well).
The movie is a classic, and there is nothing actually added to the feature itself, like deleted scenes – I’ll keep this as a review of the BD.
I am getting more and more impressed with the features of a Blu-Ray disc when implemented properly. It would be the easy thing to just take the DVD release, throw in a few more extras, and produce a Blu-Ray disc. But to have features that allow you to access supplementary material without interruption of the feature itself, or if an interruption is necessary, to return you to the feature where you left off automatically is impressive. I hope more studios realize this and make use of these features.
The package is a simple standard BD plastic case, with an image of Cornelius on the cover. The disc itself is screenprinted in blue with another image of Cornelius.
The disc opens with a CGI animated Lawgiver giving an introduction and mentioning a couple features of the disc, followed by the main menu with what appears to be rotoscoped still shots from the movie that are animated, with the menu items floating on the bottom. It makes full use of the pop-up menu feature, where special features can be accessed without interrupting the movie. If the special feature involves something outside the movie itself, it brings you back to the movie when it is done.
The video quality is great for a 40 year old movie, as is the audio. The disc itself has 4 audio tracks (not including commentary): English 5.1 DTS-HD lossless audio, English Mono, Spanish Mono, and French 5.1 DD. Unfortunately my receiver doesn’t currently support the HD mechanisms yet, so I couldn’t get the full surround sound (unless I wanted to listen in French). I think this is the first BD that I’ve seen that didn’t at least have an English DD track. That is the only thing I found disappointing about this release.
You can also choose to hear another introduction by the Lawgiver when you play the movie.
Special Features include:
Audio commentary by actors Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter and Natalie Trundy, and makeup artist John Chambers – strangely, the artists do not introduce themselves. With the opening credits, they simply begin talking. I presume the commentary was filmed some time ago (since McDowell passed away in 1998, Chambers in 2001 and Hunter in 2002). Also, Trundy does not appear in the film, but appeared in the 4 sequels in several roles. I actually wonder if the commentary was edited from other sources. The commentary is sporadic, and appears to avoid detracting from dialog in the film.
Audio commentary by composer Jerry Goldsmith – Similar to the other commentary.
Text commentary by Eric Greene, the author of Planet Of The Apes As American Myth – subtitles discussing the scenes.
Science Of The Apes BONUSVIEW (only available on BONUSVIEW-enabled players) – During the film, additional video will appear on an inset. On other players (and even on enabled players) the videos can be view as a normal set of short featurettes. These are mostly little tidbits of information about space travel and science.
Beyond The Forbidden Zone Adventure Game – A form of board/trivia game you can play that is overlaid on the movie as it plays.
A Public Service Announcement From ANSA – Fictional newsreel footage about “Project Liberty”, about the ANSA space program, and the spacecraft from the movie.
Evolution Of The Apes – How the story and movie came to be.
Impact Of The Apes – How the movie influenced others.
Behind The Planet Of The Apes Documentary – Full making of feature over 2 hours long, narrarated by Roddy McDowell. Offers some interactive features
Behind The Planet Of The Apes Promo – A trailer-like promo for the documentary.
The Archive Of The Apes – Various video clips of test and behind the scenes footage.
It includes the original test film with Charlton Heston, Edward G. Robinson and James Brolin, and an introduction narrated by Paul Frees. Unfortunately there is no “play all” function here.
Gallery Of The Apes – Various interactive galleries, with closeups of press information, and a faux newspaper called The Ape.
Lastly, the disc supports the D-BOX Integrated Motion System that can control motion actuators in a seat or platform to move you as you watch the movie. This is the first I’ve heard of the system, but it sounds like those boutique theaters with the motion chairs can now come to your home…
Overall, this takes a classic movie and wraps 21st century home video technology around it, taking advantage of the capacity of the medium and the features of the interface, making this the most Blu-Ray of the Blu-Ray discs I have seen yet.