‘Conquest of the Planet of the Apes’ Blu-ray Review
‘Conquest of the Planet of the Apes’ is the darkest film in the entire ‘Planet of the Apes’ series. This film is a no nonsense affair and is straight to the point with the message it is trying to convey. The tables are turned around two fold in ‘Conquest’ this time where the apes are being treated harshly. In the first two films, we were in a world where the humans were the minority. It made you sit back thinking what would a world be if this happened to us. Then in the third film the story was starting to get really hot setting the stage for the next two films in the series. While we felt horrible for Zira and Cornelius in ‘Escape’, you don’t feel as sympathetic for the apes like in ‘Conquest’. I found myself cheering the apes on in ‘Conquest’, even though it is very frightening with what goes down.
This is a series that if you have never experienced, it is of high recommendation viewing them for their socio-economic/political message. The delivery of the message in each film is very strong even though from the on set of the first film with inhumane treatment of the humans to how the tables are reversed on the apes by the third film say a lot. Each sequel has never held a candle to the original, but each sequel brings something unique to the table unfolding the story.
In 1991 Armando (Ricardo Montalban) who is the circus master from ‘Escape’ would bring a grown ape by the name of Caesar (Roddy McDowall) to the city. Armando kept Caesar in hiding for nearly 20 years so that the government from ‘Escape’ didn’t find and destroy him. Caesar is the son of Zira and Cornelius from the first three films in the series. Caesar isn’t any ordinary ape; he has the ability to think rationally, speak, and is very intelligent. As opposed to the apes that we have met in the previous films, he is on a different level.
Caesar quickly learns that during a space travels in 1983, astronauts return to earth with some kind of virus that ends up killing all cats and dogs. They have gone extinct, so man needs a new pet. They decided that which animal is the easiest to train, it was the ape. Apes became the human’s pets, but then would eventually turn into their slaves. We see apes performing all kinds of duties, such as cutting/styling hair, doing maintenance work, waiting tables, custodial duties, and you name it they are doing the work. There are also police officers on the streets keeping an eye on the apes, yet won’t hesitate to use their nightsticks to harm the apes.
Then we have the governor Breck (Don Murray) that is under suspicion that Caesar is the child of both Zira and Cornelius that they were trying to capture in ‘Escape’. They take Caesar to the room where they electrocute their victims into giving out information. As Caesar is being electrocuted, MacDonald (Rhodes) is looking on with disgust and horror as to how the ape is being treated. Finally Caesar screams out a few words which would prove that he speaks and he is the son of Zira and Cornelius. At this point it is instructed that Caesar be electrocuted to death. MacDonald makes sure that he places a stop to this saving Caesar.
MacDonald has sat there viewing what the humans are doing to the apes just like what the white man did to the black man with slavery. It has been eating him up for a long time, until this day that he decides to free Caesar from this torture. While MacDonald feels like he is doing the right thing, it leads to an ape uprising once again on the planet earth. The message of the story is rather strong here bringing the message of slavery very front and center. I don’t think that any film in the series has done that like ‘Conquest’. The battle begins from here.
Movie Content: 3.5/5
The print is presented in 1080p/AVC VC-1 with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. ‘Conquest’ is the darkest film yet in the planet saga in both story and in print. I found this transfer to be pretty good for a film with so many darker scenes. Yet there are times where the print does suffer due to the darkness. Colors are rather strong and visually appealing. Details are also good with deep blacks. There are some issues with dirt specs appearing here and there on the print. It is nowhere near what was found on the DVD version. Grain is still present, but very subtle as compared to the DVD where it was much heavier in certain scenes.
Video Quality: 3.5/5
Audio is presented in DTS-HD MA lossless 5.1 mix. I found the mix to be very similar to ‘Planet of the Apes’ which I reviewed several weeks ago. The soundtrack doesn’t take full advantage of the surrounds. We get a much more front heavy audio experience with the film as expected. The rears encompass a few sound effects and music from the soundtrack, but are rather light most of the film. Dialogue comes through very clear and clean as everything is well placed through the center channel.
Audio Quality: 3.5/5
- Isolated Score Track [DTS-HD MA 5.1]
- Riots and Revolutions: Confronting the Times Featurette [HD]
- A Look Behind the Planet of the Apes Featurette [SD]
- J. Lee Thompson Directs Conquest of the Apes Featurette [SD]
- Theatrical Trailer [SD]
- Future News Gallery [HD]
- Interactive Pressbook [SD]
- Advertising Gallery [HD]
- Lobby Card Gallery [HD]
- Behind-the Scenes Gallery [HD]
- D-Box Motion
The special features are very good and there are a plethora of extras in this release. There was a good mix of standard and high definition content here. Riots and Revolutions: Confronting the Times Featurette is one of the best featurette’s of the special features.
Special Features: 4/5
‘Conquest of the Planet of the Apes’ is a very interesting entry in the Apes saga as the events of ‘Escape’ are a turning point for the series. This is the darkest of the Apes films in both visual quality and story which will leave many stunned by the message. This is yet another nice delivery of the Apes film’s on Blu-ray and well worth the upgrade over regular DVD.
Overall Rating: 3.5 (Purchase)