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MOVIE INFO

Director:
J. Lee Thompson
Cast:
Roddy McDowall, Claude Akins, Natalie Trundy, Severn Darden, Lew Ayres, Paul Williams, Austin Stoker, Noah Keen
Writing Credits:
Pierre Boulle (novel, "La Plančte des singes"), Paul Dehn (story), John William Corrington, Joyce Hooper Corrington

Tagline:
The final chapter in the incredible Apes saga. The most suspenseful showdown ever filmed as two civilizations battle for the right to inherit what's left of the earth!

Synopsis:
The fifth and final episode in the Planet of the Apes series. After the collapse of human civilization, a community of intelligent apes lives in harmony with a group of humans, but a community of mutants who reside beneath a destroyed city try to conquer those whom they perceive as enemies. Footage from the previous installments is effective in providing background information as flashbacks in an attempt to bring the series to a logical finish. (A later television series attempted to rekindle original plotlines with newer ones.)

Box Office:
Budget
$1.8 million.
Domestic Gross
$8.800 million.

MPAA:
Rated G

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Monaural
French Monaural
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 96 min.
Price: $14.98
Release Date: 3/28/2006

Bonus:
• Cast
• Trailers


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EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Battle For The Planet Of The Apes (1973)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 3, 2006)

When 1972’s Conquest of the Planet of the Apes concluded, we left the Earth in turmoil. Led by Caesar (Roddy McDowall), the apes revolted against their human oppressors. Based on its title, you might expect that 1973’s Battle for the Planet of the Apes picks up right at the conclusion of its predecessor.

But you’d assume incorrectly, as it actually leaps forward a few years. We discover that man and ape fought a horrible war that left the Earth devastated. Caesar desires a society in which both sides can co-exist, so he runs a little commune where he attempts to achieve those goals.

However, not all goes smoothly. As exemplified by General Aldo (Claude Akins), the gorillas don’t like this hippie lifestyle and want to fight some more. They resent the humans and want to be firmly in charge. This seems like it’ll inevitably lead to conflict.

In the meantime, Caesar’s human counterpart MacDonald (Austin Stoker) tells him they could find evidence of the Earth’s future in a decimated, radioactive city. Since these recordings show Caesar’s long-dead parents, he wants to see them. Along with resident intellectual orangutan Virgil (Paul Williams), they launch an expedition to retrieve these artifacts.

When they arrive there, we discover that some humans survive in the radiation. Led by Governor Kolp (Severn Darden), their forces pursue our crew. MacDonald and the apes escape but Kolp sends his soldiers to “exterminate” them. The movie follows the assault by Kolp and his men as well as internal struggles related to the militaristic Aldo.

Battle seems to be the most reviled of the Apes series. Perhaps the 10 minutes added to this extended cut improved it, or maybe I just expected so little that it couldn’t help but be better than anticipated. Whatever the case, I didn’t find it to offer a poor experience.

Not that I’d refer to Battle as a great movie. It comes across as watchable but forgettable and also something of a missed opportunity. I can’t help but think a film about the cataclysmic war would have been more interesting than this look at the aftermath. I expect cost had a lot to do with it, as a massive conflict would be much more expensive than the limited scope of this movie’s story. Nonetheless, the bigger canvas would have been more interesting.

Battle also might have been more compelling without the elements related to the mutated humans. They exist for little reason other than to show warfare. The movie could have pursued the internal conflicts between gorillas, chimps and humans to better effect. Yeah, those elements play a role, but they get lost among Kolp and his mutants.

Coulda, woulda, shoulda – all of that becomes irrelevant, I suppose. The final result on the screen doesn’t fail, but it doesn’t soar either. The best parts of Battle come toward the end. Some elements of the mutant/ape fight are good, and a final confrontation between Caesar and Aldo also has its elements. I could live without the “view from the future” offered by an out-of-place John Huston as the Lawgiver, though, and the whole ending seems too PC to be palatable.

All of this leaves Battle as a resolutely mediocre Apes flick. There’s enough of interest to keep the viewer reasonably involved, but there’s not enough to make the movie memorable or special. It closes the series on a flat note.

Note that this DVD offers an extended version of Battle. It runs about 10 minutes longer than the 86-minute theatrical edition. I never saw Battle before I received this DVD, so I can’t specify the changes via my own experiences. However, I checked elsewhere and it appears that most of the additions come from extensions to existing scenes. The main new sequences revolve around a nuclear weapon and its potential deployment.


The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus D-

Battle for the Planet of the Apes appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The transfers of the prior Apes movies varied from good to great, and this one continued that trend.

No issues with sharpness emerged. The movie suffered from only a smidgen of minor softness in a couple of wider shots. Otherwise it looked crisp and detailed. I saw no examples of shimmering or jagged edges, and edge enhancement was minimal. As for source flaws, a couple of small blemishes cropped up but the movie usually seemed clean.

Colors looked good. The boasted natural, vibrant tones and appeared solid at all times. The hues were consistently vivid and concise. Blacks also appeared deep and dense, while shadows showed good delineation. This was a consistently positive image.

While the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack seemed moderately above average for its era, it showed its age a little more than I’d like. The main problems stemmed from the quality of the audio. Speech always remained intelligible, but the lines occasionally sounded a bit edgy and hollow. Effects also demonstrated a little distortion, though they mostly displayed decent accuracy and range. Music was the best part of the track. The cues sometimes were a bit shrill, but they mostly came across as acceptably full and lively.

The soundfield worked better. The score showed nice imaging, though I thought it used the surrounds a little more actively than necessary. I’d have preferred the music to focus more strongly on the front speakers. Some isolated dialogue came from the sides, and the louder sequences showed decent localization of effects. This wasn’t a dazzling track, but it worked pretty well given its age.

Only a few minor extras fill out the DVD. Cast simply lists the names and roles of some actors. There’s no biographical information included. What’s the point?

Theatrical Trailers features ads for Planet of the Apes, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Escape from the Planet of the Apes, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, Battlew for the Planet of the Apes, the 2001 Planet of the Apes and a “Planet of the Apes Crosspromotion” that touts the first five films.

The original Planet of the Apes series ended with Battle for the Planet of the Apes. The film wasn’t a soaring send-off, but it wasn’t a total dud either. The DVD provides good picture and audio but skimps on extras. Apes completists will be the ones with the most interest in this lackluster effort.

A purse-strings note: you can buy Battle for the Planet of the Apes on its own or as part of a six-DVD Planet of the Apes Legacy boxed set. That package includes Battle along with the original Planet of the Apes, Escape from the Planet of the Apes, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, and the documentary Behind the Planet of the Apes.

Fox presents Battle solely in Legacy and the super-duper $180 Planet of the Apes Ultimate Collection, though Image Entertainment produces a two-disc version on its own. For fans who want all the movies but who are not eager to shell out the big bucks for Ultimate, the Legacy set is a nice bargain. Separately, the five movies list for about $75, while the Legacy retails for $50. Toss in Battle as well and it’s a nice set for Apes fans.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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