Planet of the Apes: Special Edition (2001)

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Released 22-Apr-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Seamless Branching-Enhanced Viewing Mode: Picture-In-Picture Vignettes
Audio Commentary-Tim Burton (Director)
Audio Commentary-Danny Elfman (Composer)
Biographies-Cast & Crew
DVD-ROM Extras
Featurette-Simian Academy; Face Like A Monkey; Ape Couture
Featurette-Screen Tests (5); Chimp Symphony, Op. 37
Featurette-On Location - Lake Powell; Swinging From The Trees
Multiple Angles-8 x 3
Gallery-8
Script-8
Deleted Scenes-5
Featurette-HBO Special
Music Video-Rule The Planet Remix-Paul Oakenfold
Trailer-Theat (2); TV Spot (6); POTA Saga;Moulin Rouge;Dr Dolittle 2
Gallery-Posters & Press Kit
Trailer-Music Promo
Gallery
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 115:01
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (45:40)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Tim Burton
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Mark Wahlberg
Tim Roth
Helena Bonham Carter
Michael Clarke Duncan
Paul Giamatti
Estella Warren
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music Danny Elfman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (96Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Croatian
Czech
Danish
Dutch
English
Finnish
Hebrew
Hungarian
Icelandic
Norwegian
Polish
Portuguese
Swedish
Turkish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    When Tim Burton makes a film, be it about fellow quirky filmmakers such as Ed Wood or a remake of a classic tale, he does not adopt any half-measures. He delivers his own unique, and often superior, slant on the source material that makes for a quality viewing experience. Take for example his feature film version of Batman: he took what viewers of the 1960s television show saw as a story about gay men in tights who delivered some of the most banal dialogue on Earth, and turned it into what those of us unlucky enough to be in the know would envision as Batman, usually after reading the Bob Kane comics. In other words, he delivered the story of a man who grew up in tragic circumstances that drove him to live a life of vengeance and vigilantism against criminals too brilliant for the police to control.

    In a sense, Tim Burton takes Planet Of The Apes and does with it what he did with Batman: he makes it more believable, and most importantly, he makes it more relevant to the everyday man, not just the senile, insane NRA activist. This is not to say that the 2001 production is perfect; it is, in fact, quite a mixed bag, but a certain amount of kudos is due to Burton for daring to take the story in different directions. In any case, Planet Of The Apes is based upon a novel by Pierre Boulle that poses the interesting question of how we'd cope if the tables were turned and apes, our closest relative in the animal kingdom, evolved to such a degree that they were able to start performing vivisections and the like upon us.

    This film version begins with Captain Leo Davidson (Mark Wahlberg) on a deep space station called the Oberon, where he watches as monkeys and other biped animals are fired into space. Eventually, one of his favourite chimps is sent to collect data on a strange formation that has appeared in front of the space station, and strange things begin to happen, with the chimp's spacecraft seemingly vanishing into thin air. Against orders, Leo gets into one of the scout ships and tries to follow his chimp, himself disappearing into the nebula and coming out without control of his craft. He soon crash-lands upon a strange planet that resembles the less-civilised South American continent we all know and love, where he is soon rounded up by a patrol of the locals.

    It is here that he learns that he has travelled far into the future, to a planet where humans are dominated over by a more evolved race of apes that can speak in much the same way as humans do. The apes that dominate this planet all worship a common ancestor whom they call Semos, and highly placed among the ape civilisation is the warlike General Thade (Tim Roth), a direct descendant of Semos. Thade and most of the rest of the apes regard humans as being nothing but lowly animals, scoffing at the thought of humans having souls and minds in much the same way that certain underevolved humans in our society do with animals now. There is a growing faction on this planet, however, that desires a world where the apes and humans can co-exist in harmony, represented by such apes as Ari (Helena Bonham Carter). With Leo having landed on the planet in a prophesised fashion, and with fellow humans like Daena (Estella Warren) demanding answers, Leo decides to escape from ape society and find out what on Earth happened to the Oberon, not to mention who this Semos character is.

    My father and I went to see Planet Of The Apes at the Merrylands complex a little while before circumstances forced us to move, and while I have not sat through the 1968 Planet Of The Apes from start to end, I certainly didn't hear him complaining about any aspect of the 2001 remake. I did have to point out the uncredited cameo by Charlton Heston for him, however. The only negative I can think of is that Planet Of The Apes is a little more superficial in comparison to Tim Burton's previous work, especially capers like Ed Wood, which is screaming for a DVD release (apparently, it is not even available in Region 1 yet). What we basically have here is a rollercoaster adventure story with political overtones that have been aimed squarely at the audiences of a cynical, repressive era rather than audiences of an unrestrained era that brought that cynical repression about. If an adventure with more intellectual stimulation is your sort of thing, then Planet Of The Apes according to Tim Burton is right up your alley.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Another impression my father and I walked away with after we had seen Planet Of The Apes theatrically was that this is a film that was made for the DVD format. With wide, rolling landscape shots that beg for the maximum amount of width and resolution, it would be an utter crime against Tim Burton and the art of film in general to view this film panned & scanned in order to fit the lousy aspect ratio of the square display that is finally on its way out.

    The transfer is presented in its proper aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and as a grand film like this demands, it is 16x9 Enhanced.

    This transfer is sharp - sharp enough that every little nuance and detail of the film and its astounding makeup effects can be seen in all their ugly glory. The only limiting factor in this is that, like Batman and Sleepy Hollow, Planet Of The Apes is an extremely dark film with minimal lighting a lot of the time. In spite of this, the shadow detail is excellent, with perfect gradation between the brighter parts of the picture and the darker, shadowy parts. As you'd expect of a new transfer of such a recent blockbuster, there is no low-level noise on offer.

    The colours in this picture emphasise jungle and desert environments, with dark greens in the first half of the film and intense shades of brown in the second being the order of the day. This transfer faithfully captures the whole Tim Burton look of the film without introducing any smearing or composite artefacts.

    MPEG artefacts were not noticed in this transfer, which is a credit to the people who put this disc together, considering how much material there is on disc one alone. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some minor aliasing on spaceships and in the starfields, with the worst example being at 8:43 on one of the smaller spaceships. The aliasing really only affects scenes where technology is on display, and most of the film passes by without showing any trace of this artefact. Film artefacts were not apparent in this transfer at all, at least not to my eye, making this one of the cleanest transfers I have seen in a while.

    There are English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles present on this DVD, and while they are not a hundred percent faithful to the spoken dialogue, they do a serviceable job of rendering it so that the story makes perfect sense. On the negative side, they are slightly out of sync with the onscreen action, with the subtitles occasionally appearing well in advance of the speech.

    This disc is RSDL formatted, with the layer change taking place during Chapter 16, when Mark Wahlberg is diving into the water at 45:40. Although the layer change pause is a little obvious, it does not interrupt the flow of the action too badly.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Another area where the 2001 remake of Planet Of The Apes excels is in its sound design, with effects that will provide a torture test for your sound system, and a score that will provide an imagination test for your mind. To view this film in analogue stereo is a crime against Tim Burton, Danny Elfman, and the art of film in general.

    There are four soundtracks on this DVD: the original English dialogue in Dolby Digital 5.1 at 384 kilobits per second, the original English dialogue in DTS 5.1 at 768 kilobits per second, an audio commentary by Danny Elfman in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded at 192 kilobits per second, and a commentary by Tim Burton in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded at 96 kilobits per second.

    The dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times, even from the apes, which is really quite impressive considering how the make-up effects impede the actors' natural speech. There are no obvious problems with audio sync.

    The score music in this film is credited to Danny Elfman, and right from the get-go it creates an exotic, lasting impression that will have the viewer on the edge of their seat in anticipation. Drums and percussion are generally the order of the day in most of the themes, used in a manner that will be familiar to those who have played the old Psygnosis video game called Shadow Of The Beast on the old Commodore Amiga. While this score is certainly as quirky as every other Danny Elfman collaboration with Tim Burton, it is quirky in a different sort of way, using more conventional methods to get an equally unsettling effect. Readers who have viewed the Sleepy Hollow DVD will have some idea of what I am talking about here.

    The surround channels are aggressively utilised at all times in order to support the score music, screeching apes, flying bullets, passing spaceships, and numerous other effects. Like the recent DVD of The Phantom Menace, there is scarcely a moment in this film when something isn't coming out of the surround channels, and this disc will push your setup to its very limits. One standout example of the surround channel usage comes at 60:46, when Mark Wahlberg fires a flare into the sky. This is an excellent disc with which to demonstrate or audition speakers and surround receivers.

    The subwoofer was also very aggressively used to support the score music and sound effects, adding a floor to the soundtrack that gives the film a sense of oomph without making itself conspicuous.

    With regards to whether the DTS or Dolby Digital soundtrack is the soundtrack of choice on this disc, Planet Of The Apes continues the trend of these two soundtrack formats tending to converge more. While the DTS soundtrack has more active surrounds and slightly better fidelity, both are mastered at a similar volume, something that will please those of us who remember having to turn down the receiver in order to compensate for louder DTS soundtracks. In terms of the dialogue and the front channels, however, the two soundtracks are fundamentally identical. Unfortunately, dropouts were heard in the DTS soundtrack, with the first occurring at 4:00, and others appearing at several points in the film. This coincides with the points where the seamless branching feature inserts additional footage, so it would appear to either be a glitch with the authoring, or an issue between the authoring method and the Toshiba SD-2109.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Occasionally, there is a film that demands it be accompanied by a truckload of extras that get right into the guts of how the feature was made, Fight Club and Close Encounters Of The Third Kind being two well-known examples that I have reviewed. Planet Of The Apes is not only among that class, it has the biggest swag of extras I have seen to date. If only I were allowed to award more than five stars to an extras package.

Disc One

Menu

    The menu is excellently themed around the film, stylishly animated with a very clever introduction, accompanied by Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, and it is 16x9 Enhanced. What more could the discerning DVD viewer want?

Seamless Branching - Enhanced Viewing Mode: Picture-In-Picture Vignettes

    This is an excellent usage of one of the DVD-Video specification's most grossly underutilised features. Essentially, playing back the film with this option enabled presents the viewer with numerous behind the scenes pieces superimposed over part of the picture, or with additional making-of footage inserted at the relevant points. The option to switch soundtracks is disabled when this feature is enabled, with the soundtrack being firmly set to Dolby Digital 5.1, but this is not really an annoyance at all. While the picture-in-picture vignettes are being played back, the branching is utterly seamless, but when the additional behind-the-scenes footage is played back, there is a brief pause while the player accesses a separate featurette.

Audio Commentary - Tim Burton (Director)

    Presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 with surround-encoding and a paltry bitrate of 96 kilobits per second, this audio commentary again prompts me to ask that next time Tim Burton is called upon to deliver a commentary, may he please be accompanied by at least one of the actors. It's not because Burton is necessarily boring, but he does only tend to scratch the surface of a topic, such as his reasons for participating in a remake of Planet Of The Apes. Granted, this commentary is a bit more interesting than that which accompanied Sleepy Hollow, but it could have been a tad better in my opinion.

Audio Commentary - Danny Elfman (Composer)

    Presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 with surround-encoding and a bitrate of 192 kilobits per second, this is basically an isolated score with some sound effects and a commentary by composer Danny Elfman. Elfman talks a lot about how he came to be involved with the project, the techniques he used for composing, and why he used them. This is not a substitute for buying the score music on CD, but it is an enlightening extra full of amusing and sometimes revealing anecdotes.

Cast & Crew Biographies

    When this option is selected, two distinct options appear: Cast and Crew. Biographies for Mark Wahlberg, Tim Roth, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Clarke Duncan, Kris Kristofferson, Estella Warren, Paul Giamatti, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, David Warner, Lisa Marie, Erick Avari, Luke Eberl, Linda Harrison, Evan Dexter Parke, Glenn Shadix, and Charlton Heston appear under the Cast option. Biographies for director Tim Burton, producer Richard D. Zanuck, executive producer Ralph Winter, screenplay writer William Broyles, Jr., screenwriters Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal, production designer Rick Heinrichs, cinematographer Phillipe Rousselot, special make-up artist Rick Baker, costume designer Colleen Atwood, editor Chris Lebenzon, and composer Danny Elfman appear under the Crew option. Some of these biographies are quite comprehensive and interesting, while others merely list a filmography.

Disc Two

Menu

    This menu is also very nicely themed around the film, with the options split into groups which can be accessed by highlighting numbers and pressing the side arrow keys. It is presented with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound and 16x9 Enhancement.

Featurette - Simian Academy

   This twenty-four minute and ten second featurette is an interesting examination of how coaches trained monkeys to perform actions that we see in the film, as well as how other coaches trained human actors to behave and move like apes. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound.

Featurette - Face Like A Monkey

   This twenty-nine minute and forty-six second featurette covers the intensive make-up processes that were used to transform human actors into apes. Much of the documentary features comments by Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, who compares the four-hour process to the twelve-hour process of having temporary tattoos applied for his role in Showdown In Little Tokyo. The featurette is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound.

Featurette - Ape Couture

   This six minute and thirty-three second featurette covers the process of costume design and its links with the make-up effects. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, with test footage in 2.35:1, and Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound. It is not 16x9 Enhanced.

Featurettes - Screen Tests

   This sub-menu contains five featurettes that are encoded in quite an interesting manner. In the order I wrote them down, the featurettes are Make-Up Tests (3:47), Costume Tests (1:35), Group Tests (2:34), Stunt Test (4:14), and Movement Tests (1:48). All of them except for Stunt Test are presented as a 1.44:1 window with four 1.33:1 frames in them, from which a button marked Play can be highlighted and selected, causing the disc to play the audio from a particular piece of footage. Stunt Test is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.44:1, and all of the featurettes are presented with Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound.

Featurette - Chimp Symphony Op. 37

   This featurette is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, with footage from the film in the ratio of 1.85:1, and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. During its nine minute and forty-one second length, it covers the recording of the score music, complete with some interesting interview footage of Danny Elfman.

Featurette - On Location: Lake Powell

   This featurette is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, with footage from the 1968 version of Planet Of The Apes presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and it is not 16x9 Enhanced. During its twelve minute running length, various members of the crew talk about the logistics of shooting particular scenes at Lake Powell, a subtle nod to the 1968 film.

Featurette - Swinging From The Trees

   This nine minute and thirty-three second featurette is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with other footage in 1.44:1 and 2.35:1, and it is not 16x9 Enhanced. It covers the logistics of ape movement and simulating the characters' ability to defy gravity.

Deleted Scenes

    A collection of five deleted scenes (well, they are referred to in the menu as extended scenes), all presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 with timing information in the unused space of the 4:3 frame and Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound. They are not 16x9 Enhanced. In order, the scenes are Launch The Monkey (1:12), Dinner (1:17), Kill Them All (0:57), Ari In The Trees (0:41), and She's A Chimpanzee (0:54). These really add very little to the film, and the decision to leave them on the cutting room floor was a good one.

Multi-Angle Featurettes

    A collection of eight multi-angle featurettes are provided under the one submenu. Each featurette is presented with its own menu that contains the featurette itself, production art, a snippet of the scene in question, and script notes. The featurettes are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, while the footage showing the scene in the final edit of the film is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 with 16x9 Enhancement and Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. In order, we have Limbo's Quadrangle (3:13/0:30), Branded (3:04/2:27), A Pet For A Chimp (2:57/2:04), Wild Humans (1:58/0:53), Leo And Daena In The Kitchen (0:56/0:50), Dinner (3:38/2:54), Escape From Ape City (2:55/1:52), and In The Forest (2:49/1:22).

Featurette - HBO Special

   Featuring narration by Michael Clarke Duncan, this twenty-six minute and forty-four second featurette is presented in the aspect ratios of 1.33:1 and 1.44:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. In a nutshell, it gives us a very cursory look at various technical aspects of the production.

Music Video - Paul Oakenfield: Rule The Planet Remix

   This two minute and fifty-one second music video is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.66:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, and it is not 16x9 Enhanced. I fail to see the point of including someone else's mangling of Danny Elfman's masterful themes here.

Theatrical Trailers

    Listed in the menu as Trailer A (1:01) and Trailer B (2:19), these two trailers are presented in an approximate 1.66:1 ratio with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, and they are not 16x9 Enhanced.

TV Spots

    All of the six TV Spots are presented in an approximate 1.66:1 ratio with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, and they are not 16x9 Enhanced. They all also run for exactly thirty-two seconds. In order, we have Event Revised, Let's Go Alt., Big Event Rev./Eyes, Planet Alt./Eyes, Review Alt., and Buzz Alt..

Trailer - Planet Of The Apes Saga

   This two minute and forty-three second advertisement for the five Planet Of The Apes films is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

Trailer - Moulin Rouge

    People who have any admiration for Baz Luhrmann best skip this paragraph, because this is definitely not going to be pretty. This two minute and twenty-eight second trailer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.44:1 (approximately) with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. Frankly, the knowledge that Baz Luhrmann directed this film is what has stopped me from viewing it. I am not surprised that Luhrmann has been snubbed by the Academy.

Trailer - Doctor Dolittle 2

   Presented in an approximate 1.44:1 ratio with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, this thirty-two second trailer also does absolutely nothing to persuade me to see the film.

Gallery - Posters & Press Kit

    This photo gallery contains still material that was used to publicise the film. Maybe I was burned out after viewing all the other extras, but this one just did not have any appeal for me.

Trailer - Music Promo

   This thirty-two second promo is presented in the aspect ratios of 1.33:1 and 1.66:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. To be honest, if you're going to advertise a soundtrack album, then using the strongest piece of music in the film rather than an excruciatingly bad remix is a great idea.

Photo Gallery

    This photo gallery contains sketches and photographs of sets and props that were used in the film.

DVD-ROM

    Once I got the PC(Un)Friendly software installed, I was taken to a menu with three distinct options: Leo's Logbook, Jr. Novella, and Compare The Script, Storyboards, And Feature. The last of those three features had a nice little piece of text beneath it prompting me to insert disc one (highly annoying since I had just finished swimming through the content of that disc). These features basically consist of text extracted from novellas and writings based upon the film, or the film's script, and are really nothing to get excited about.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The two versions of this disc are pretty much identical, with no difference that leads me to recommend one over the other. The local disc is substantially cheaper and has more resolution, anyway.

Summary

    Planet Of The Apes is a severely underrated film that takes a film which Tim Burton clearly respected (just listen to the commentary) in a whole new direction. The two-disc set on which it is presented redefines how much value one gets for their forty dollars, and is yet another nail in the coffin of inferior formats. This is in with a great chance of being the DVD-Video release of 2002.

    The video transfer is excellent, with only a few instances of aliasing denying it reference status.

    The audio transfer is excellent, although the DTS soundtrack is a little problematic.

    Extras? You want extras? There is an entire day's worth of viewing and listening on this two-disc set. No, I am not exaggerating.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Dean McIntosh (Don't talk about my bio. We don't wanna know.)
Wednesday, February 20, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 2109, using S-Video output
DisplaySamsung CS-823AMF (80cm). Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony STR DE-835
SpeakersYamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NSC-120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer

Other Reviews
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Australian DVD Review - Rodney T
Dark Horizons - Garth F

Comments (Add)
DTS Problem - Ben H (My biography. Go on have a read...)
Once again, the dvd format rescues a film - orangecat (my kingdom for a decent bio)
Menu Volume - David (multi-cellular biological lifeform) REPLY POSTED
the apes - DarkEye (This bio says: Death to DNR!)
Good review - REPLY POSTED
Elfman Commentary -
Cast & Crew Biographies And DVD-Rom Content -
DTS Problem -