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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 Plančte des singes"), Paul Dehn

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

Synopsis:
The world is shocked by the appearance of three talking chimpanzees, who arrived mysteriously in a U.S. spacecraft. They become the toast of society; but one man believes them to be a threat to the human race.

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

MPAA:
Rated G

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Monaural
French Monaural
Spanish Monaural
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Cantonese
Mandarin
Korean
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 94 min.
Price: $16.99
Release Date: 11/4/2008

Bonus:
• Isolated Score
• “The Secret Behind Escape” Featurette
• “Don Taylor Directs Escape from the Planet of the Apes” Featurette
• Trailer
• Galleries


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Escape From The Planet Of The Apes [Blu-Ray] (1971)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 25, 2015)

Since 1970’s Beneath the Planet of the Apes apparently ended with the destruction of that world, I couldn’t help but wonder how 1971’s Escape from the Planet of the Apes would work. The third flick in the Apes series comes up with a slippery but interesting solution: reverse time travel!

When the planet 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 don’t reveal their advanced development, so the authorities see them as simple apes – 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 is the same one manned by Taylor from the first flick. Soon Zira and Cornelius come forward with their story, though they don’t tell the main authorities about the Earth’s 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 “fish out of water” 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 movie’s 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.

That’s an interesting twist, and it provokes some concepts that would later be explored in other flicks like Minority Report. However, Hasslein’s idea makes no sense, since I don’t 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; it’s not like Zira and Cornelius were the ones who prompted these developments. Killing them would have absolutely no effect on the future. It’d be like murdering Angela Merkel to stop Hitler.

That side of things becomes so convoluted that it borders on incoherence. In any case, I don’t 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 didn’t bother with the action side of things, though.

All of this means that Escape doesn’t 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 Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus C

Escape from the Planet of the Apes appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This turned into a nice presentation.

Only minor problems affected sharpness, as a few wide shots looked a bit soft. Overall, however, the movie offered crisp and concise visuals. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and source flaws were minor. I might have noticed one or two 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 solid clarity and definition. This was consistently fine transfer.

I also found much to like with the DTS-HD MA 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 acceptable 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 wasn’t 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.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the prior DVD from 2006? Audio was a little better developed, as I thought the soundfield showed better balance. Visuals seemed tighter and cleaner as well. The old DVD was nice, but the Blu-ray provided improvements.

While the DVD included very few extras, the Blu-ray provides a smattering of components. Though we get no commentary, we do find an isolated score. This provides Jerry Goldsmith’s work in all its DTS-HD MA 5.1 glory. Fans will enjoy this bonus.

A featurette called The Secret Behind Escape runs 16 minutes, four seconds and provides notes from Planet of the Apes As American Myth: Race, Politics and Popular Culture author Eric Greene, Planet of the Apes Revisited author Joe Russo, 20th Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History author Aubrey Solomon, actor Kim Hunter’s son Sean Emmett, The Hiding Place director Douglas Green, 20th Century Fox makeup department head Daniel C. Striepeke, and actor Tom Lowell. This piece covers the sequel’s roots and development, story/script/character topics, costumes and themes, cast and performances, makeup, and the finale. “Secret” touches on the appropriate subjects and does so in a brisk manner, so it makes for an effective show.

We also get a period featurette entitled Don Taylor Directs Escape from the Planet of the Apes. It fills seven minutes, 46 seconds as it shows shots from the set. We get a few comments from Taylor, but those behind the scenes elements dominate. It offers a nice glimpse of the production.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we find some Galleries. We locate “Advertising” (17 screens) and “Behind the Scenes” (29). Both offer a good collection of images.

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 Blu-ray offers good picture and audio as well as a smattering of interesting supplements. I feel pleased with the release.

To rate this film, visit the DVD review of ESCAPE FROM THE PLANET OF THE APES

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