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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Don Taylor
Cast:
Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Bradford Dillman, Natalie Trundy, Eric Braeden, William Windom, Sal Mineo
Writing Credits:
Pierre Boulle (novel, "La PlanŤte des singes"), Paul Dehn

Tagline:
A New Generation Of Incredible Apes In The Most Exciting Suspense Film Of Them All.

Synopsis:
This third installment in the Planet Of The Apes series finds Cornelius and Zira in modern-day Los Angeles. They have traveled back in time, but soon find that they have enemies in the past as well as the present. This is thought by many to be the best of the sequels. Followed by Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes.

Box Office:
Budget
$2.5 million.
Domestic Gross
$12.300 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: 97 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


Escape From The Planet Of The Apes (1971)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 24, 2006)

Since 1970ís Beneath the Planet of the Apes apparently ended with the destruction of that world, I couldnít help but wonder how 1971ís Escape from the Planet of the Apes would work. The third flick in the Apes series comes up with a slippery but interesting notion: reverse time travel!

When the Earth went kaboom at the end of Beneath, it turns out that three chimp scientists were in orbit. The blast sends their ship back to 20th century Earth. There Zira (Kim Hunter), Cornelius (Roddy McDowall) and Milo (Sal Mineo) get taken into custody by the US military. The simians donít reveal their advanced development, so the authorities see them as simple apes Ė albeit very intelligent ones.

Our threesome agree not to speak or otherwise tip their collective hand, but Zira lets their secret be known when she tires of tedious cognitive tests. An agitated gorilla then inadvertently kills Milo, and psychiatrist Dr. Lewis Dixon (Bradford Dillman) gets to know the survivors better and they become friends.

In the meantime, the military discovers that the spacecraft piloted by the chimps was the one manned by Taylor from the first flick. Soon Zira and Cornelius come forward with their story, though they donít tell the main authorities about the Earthís fate and their familiarity with Taylor.

After a successful press conference, Zira and Cornelius become the toast of human society. They integrate quickly and receive a warm welcome. However, the feds start to learn the secrets of the future, and some of them become disturbed. In particular, presidential advisor Dr. Otto Hasslein (Eric Braeden) deems them a threat to long-term human survival. He wants them axed, so he gets the president (William Windom) to authorize interrogation. The rest of the film follows how the government deals with the apes and their attempts to survive various threats. Matters become even more urgent when we learn that Zira is pregnant and will give birth soon.

If nothing else, Escape offers a considerable improvement over the crummy Beneath. That movie was a largely pointless exercise in idiocy, and it left a bad taste in my mouth. Escape never matches up to the original Apes, but it manages to pave its own path and become entertaining.

The turnabout inherent in its plot allows it to offer many fun moments. Escape works best during its first half, as it follows the ďfish out of waterĒ aspects. I like the way it allows the apes to develop in society and make themselves known. McDowall and Hunter offer lively performances that wring the most of their opportunities.

Unfortunately, once the movieís main plot kicks in, the flick starts to decline. The main problem stems from its inherent lack of logic. Escape builds Hasslein as its villain. When he learns apes will blow up Earth in 2000 years, he wants to kill Zira, Cornelius and their baby. He believes that this will alter the future and prevent the eventual ape dominance.

Thatís an interesting twist, and it provokes some concepts that would later be explored in other flicks like Minority Report. However, Hassleinís idea makes no sense, since I donít see how killing apes from the end of future civilization will prevent their ancestors from domination. As the movie explains, apes evolved to the sophisticated level we saw in the first two movies; itís not like Zira and Cornelius were the ones who prompted these developments. Killing them would have absolutely no effect on the future.

At least I donít see how it would, but that side of things becomes so convoluted that it gets messy. In any case, I donít think Escape needs to follow that plot. I guess that the filmmakers felt they needed more drama and action so they chose this storyline to pursue it. Escape probably would be more interesting if it simply examined the lives the apes live in 20th century society and didnít bother with the action side of things.

All of this means that Escape doesnít threaten to become a great Apes flick, but it usually remains interesting. Sure, it drags as it progresses, and the ending is kind of goofy. Nonetheless, it manages to be an intriguing departure from the first two movies and it does its job well enough to be moderately positive.


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

Escape from 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. Fox did nice work with the transfers of the first two Apes flicks, and that trend continued unabated with the excellent visuals of Escape.

Only minor problems affected sharpness. Some minimal edge enhancement occasionally rendered wide shots slightly soft. Overall, the movie offered very crisp and concise visuals. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and source flaws were virtually non-existent. I might have noticed one or two minor specks, but that was all.

Whereas the first two Apes movies presented arid palettes, Escape went with a livelier setting. It replicated the colors very well. The tones were consistently vivid and dynamic. Blacks seemed dark and firm, while shadows demonstrated fine clarity and definition. This was a genuinely terrific transfer.

I also found much to like with the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Escape from the Planet of the Apes. This film was a little more low-key than its predecessors were since it lacked as many action scenes. That said, the soundfield managed to open up matters fairly well. The music showed nice stereo imaging, and some directional speech occasionally appeared. Effects broadened moderately to the side and managed to mesh together well. The surrounds kicked in a bit of information to make this a reasonably satisfying soundscape.

Audio quality wasnít as dated as I expected. The music left the most positive impression, as the score was consistently lively and dynamic. Effects were a little thin but not bad, as they demonstrated good definition for the most part. Speech was also concise and distinctive. No one will mistake this for a modern soundtrack, but I thought it was eminently pleasing given its age.

Only a few minor extras fill out the DVD. Cast simply lists the names and roles of some actors. Thereís no biographical information included. Whatís 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 ďPlanet of the Apes CrosspromotionĒ that touts the first five films.

While not my idea of a classic, Escape from the Planet of the Apes does manage to redeem the series after the dismal Beneath the Planet of the Apes. The movie has odd stretches of logic and drags as it progresses, but it does enough right to remain entertaining. The DVD offers excellent picture along with very good audio, but it skimps in regard to extras. Despite that fact, this is a nice DVD for a reasonably interesting flick.

A purse-strings note: you can buy Escape from 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 Escape along with the original Planet of the Apes, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, Battle for the Planet of the Apes, and the documentary Behind the Planet of the Apes.

Fox presents Behind 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 Behind as well and itís a nice set for Apes fans.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.6 Stars Number of Votes: 5
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