‘Planet of the Apes’ is one of the most influential sci-fi films of our time. While the film was more geared towards family with its marketing campaign, there is a lot of underlying social commentary telling a tale about race, discrimination, and class. There have been many films that came out of the 60’s telling a tale of social commentary which were rather successful and this is no different.

In 1968 the film would release in theaters with a total US gross of $33 million dollars. None of the sequels would ever amount the total gross and superb story that was told with the original. As the film celebrates its 40 year anniversary, FOX breathes new life into the franchise with a high definition video and audio transfer on Blu-ray. ‘Planet of the Apes’ has seen multiple DVD releases over the years, the timing is right to bring this classic to a young format that is starting to get its feet wet.

The film opens with astronaut George Taylor (Charlton Heston) giving a log entry in his spaceship about the journey that lies ahead. George Taylor with his crew is heading to outer space when his spaceship crash lands in the water of an unknown planet. Taylor and his crew make their way out of the ship to investigate. It catches them off guard once they realize that this planet is like planet Earth where they can breathe oxygen, there is lush of vegetation, water to drink and bathe in. They find a lake which the crew jumps in to take a swim; but as they are swimming all of a sudden their clothes start disappearing.

Taylor spots someone taking their clothes, so they start running after them in the buff. As they are chasing the thieves, they find that there are also humans on this planet, except things are much more different. These humans are like cavemen from centuries ago and are the minority as they are slaves to the apes. These aren’t just any ordinary apes, these apes are intelligent and also speak like the human race on Earth. This society of apes is also technologically and military advanced. We have role reversal on this planet as the ape is the ruler and jury.

Not all the apes are under the same belief as the ape society that these humans need to be treated horribly. Cornelius (Roddy McDowall) and Zira (Kim Hunter) befriend Taylor as they start to speak to him and he does in return once his larynx has been healed. Taylor is treated as a lab rat by the scientists and even worse is what happens to both his crew members which will shock you. At this point it seems as Taylor is alone, but he ends up falling in love with a beautiful cave woman Nova (Linda Harrison). Cornelius and Zira help Taylor plan his escape.

This story is a fantastic ride from start to finish and the performances are very well done. Charlton Heston provides some of the best acting of his career as this film really made him much more popular than ever before. As the film progresses you are at the edge of your seating hoping for Taylor to get off the planet and into safety. Both Roddy McDowall and Kim Hunter basically steal the show with their performances as the sympathetic apes.

Print/Audio Quality
The print is presented in 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. For a film that is nearly 40 years old, FOX engineers have done a great job adding more color and detail to the print. While color won’t jump out at you and it is rather soft, it helps bring out details that we were never able to see on DVD. You can view the single strands of hair on the ape’s heads/faces; the greenery in some of the water scenes looks more life like than before, the boulders have more color with textures, and the foliage in several scenes looks great. There is a tiny hint of grain throughout the entire film, but it is so ever subtle with no distraction at all.

The audio is presented in DTS-HD MA lossless 5.1 mix. The soundtrack doesn’t take full advantage of the complete surround as the original audio track was mono. 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.

Special Features
The amount of special features on this Blu-ray version of the film is astonishing. This is the ultimate edition to own if you are a feature centric collector. Special features are in both standard and high definition.

  • Commentary by Actors Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter and Natalie Trundy, and Makeup Artist John Chambers
  • Commentary by Composer Jerry Goldsmith
  • Text Commentary by Eric Greene
  • Science of the Apes Bonusview
  • Beyond the Forbidden Zone Adventure Game
  • Public Service Announcement from ANSA
  • Evolution of the Apes Featurette
  • Impact of the Apes Featurette
  • Behind the Planet of the Apes Documentary with Interactive Mode
  • Behind the Planet of the Apes Promo
  • The Archives of the Apes: Original Makeup Test, Roddy McDowall’s On-Set Footage, Dailies and Outtakes, N.A.T.O. Presentation, Vintage Planet of the Apes Featurette, Teaser Trailer, Original Theatrical Trailer
  • The Galleries of the Apes
  • D-Box Motion Code

I can’t recommend this film enough on Blu-ray. From the plethora of extras in high and standard definition to the top quality video and audio presentation this is well worth an upgrade from previous DVD versions of the film. FOX engineers have outdone themselves yet again. I still find the film rather enjoyable since it holds up rather well, with even an ending that still shocks me to this day.

List Price: $34.95, Sale Price: $26.95 – Order from Amazon Planet of the Apes (40th Anniversary Edition) [Blu-ray]