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VINE VOICEon August 18, 2000
This set is wonderful! All 5 films plus a bonus documentary hosted by the late great Roddy McDowall, Behind The Planet Of The Apes is a 126 minute making of which shows the origins and the ideas that lead to the filming of the saga which began in 1967, thru the rest of the films 'til 1973 as well as the two television series (live action and animated) and the rereleasing of the films and marketing. But you have to buy this set soon because after the first 100,000 are sold, the next sets will not, I repeat, will not include the Behind The Planet Of The Apes documentary, which, to me, is the best special feature you get with these movies. The lowdown on the films is this: Planet Of The Apes is a classic. Trust me, if you don't like this one you won't like the rest. The ending is historic. Beneath The Planet Of The Apes is a good second effort. I just wish Charlton Heston would've starred in the entire picture instead of the beginning and ending. (note: the trailer for this film is different from the one given on the VHS version (you can still see parts of that one on the documentary)). Escape From The Planet Of The Apes is a very original installment which takes place in the past circa 1973. This one is lighter and more fun up until the end. Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes is the most underated of all the Apes films. This is the only ape film that recieved a PG rating for violence and deservedly so, but what makes this one unique is Roddy McDowell's understated performance as Ceaser, the ape who would lead his brothers and sisters to victory over the humans who have enslaved them. This is the darkest of the set and, to me, deserves better recognition. Battle For The Planet Of The Apes is a decent 5th installment. This film was made primarily for the kiddies, so, bearing that in mind you should know what to expect and even so, this film is still quite entertaining. None of these films were a boxoffice failure. They all made money. So go ape and grab this set, which includes the trailers for all 5 films, a photo gallery for the first 2 films and of course, the documentary, Behind The Planet Of The Apes. Don't dawdle, grab this set soon. You don't want to give up the documentary. It's a perfect companion to the rest of the films that gives you some great insight and will be highly collectable in the near future.
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VINE VOICEon November 28, 2008
I have loved this series ever since I was a young boy who saw the original movie on TV. When the TV series came out, I was glued to the set for every episode, and then the cartoon series became a part of my regular Saturday morning viewing. This is one of the few movie franchises that I loved growing up that has not lost any of its charm with me now as an adult. I first bought the Limited Edition Evolution collection on DVD a few years ago, and followed up with my purchase of the Ultimate Collection that came enclosed in a bust of Caesar. When I first heard of the arrival of this series on Blu-ray, I thought they would simply transport the DVD versions I already owned onto a Blu-ray platter. BOY was I wrong!!!!!

I will not go into the details of the story line for this series, since so many have already done a great job at that. What I will focus on is the Blu-ray 40th Anniversary Collection.

I had seen pictures of the collection, and was very excited to get my own copy, but I had never actually seen a copy of it in the stores. Because of that, I wasn't quite sure what to expect with regarding the quality of the set. I had just recently been MAJORLY disappointed with Fox's horrible Blu-ray box set of the Omen series (another favorite of mine). The packaging for that set was one of the worst I have ever seen on any format. But I digress....this is not a review of the Omen set. Let's start with the outer box. It is of very sturdy construction with the spaceship on the cover in textured relief. The box serves what appears to be a hard bound book. You slide that out of the cover, and it opens to reveal a detailed timeline of the entire Ape film series. Each gatefold of the timeline then opens to reveal the discs which are attached to the backboard with these clear rubber hubs. I will admit that the hubs proved to be frustrating at first, because I could not get the discs back onto the hubs to secure them before closing the package. While this is my only complaint about the entire set, I found that instead of trying to force the discs straight down onto the hubs, it works MUCH better to place the disc on the hub and then give it a gentle twist which easily secures it. While I have some reservations about the choice to use these rubber hubs to hold the discs, I have to admit that it really does look great when the package is all together. The only other thing included in the package is a book that chronicles the entire film series. But wait....this is no typical listing of special features with a brief synopsis of each film. This book is a substantial 200 page overview of this timeless series. The production value of this book is top notch!!! It is the best I have ever seen in a movie set. What makes this book truly special, is that it was produced exclusively for this Blu-ray collection. You may browse the book with it still attached to the package, or you can easily slide it out to look at it on its own. All of the packaging for this set is constructed from very sturdy cardboard and it all works together to serve as an excellent means of presenting the true star of the set, the 5 Blu-ray discs that comprise the film series.

If you have ever had doubts about jumping into the Blu-ray high def pool, this set serves as an example for what this format is capable of. The wealth of information on the first disc alone is truly staggering!!! Not only does it include all of the special features that were included on the 2-disc DVD, it also adds some fantastic special features that are unique to the Blu-ray format. One of those features is the ability to watch the feature long documentary as it was originally presented or you may choose to watch it in Interactive Mode where you are presented with extra text and video features. You also get the Science of the Apes Bonusview which is a picture-in-picture feature that can be viewed while watching the first film. One of the other cool features was the ability to actually read newspapers which served as props in the original movie. You first get to see the paper as seen in the movie, then you use your remote to choose which article you would like to read. Finally the entire text of the article is presented in an easy to read text format. This may not be for everyone, but as a longtime fan, I enjoyed it. I could go on and on with all the special features of the 1st disc, but you can get that information elsewhere. While the first film does deservedly get the royal treatment with special features, Fox did not simply slap the previous DVD version of the other 4 films on a new format, and throw them together. It is amazing that Fox took the time to present these other 4 Ape films in what I consider the best video and audio I've ever experienced them in. Each film also gets its own documentary, while not as extensive as the original, each one is more than just a puff piece of each film. As a longtime fan, I have been dying to see some nice extra features for the other films in the franchise. In addition to some nice extra features, you also get the opportunity to watch "Conquest" and "Battle" in either the original theatrical version, or an expanded version. While there was an extended version of "Conquest" in the Ultimate Collection DVD set, this is the first time we have been given the opportunity to see the extended version of "Battle". It has been mentioned in previous releases, but it was thrilling for me to finally get to see it.

BOTTOM LINE: I will concede that the sound on these discs cannot compare to those of such blockbusters as Transformers or Iron Man, but if you are an Ape fan and have been looking for a definitive collection of the franchise, then I wholeheartedly recommend that you get this collection on Blu-ray. These films have never looked and sounded better, and I am thrilled with all of the extra features that are available for each film. This is hands down the greatest Blu-ray collection yet created, and I think it will stand the test of time as other studios follow suit. Even with the little complaint about the rubber hubs holding the discs, I have no reservations in recommending this to any Ape fan who has recently jumped into the Blu-ray pool of high definition movie viewing.
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on April 9, 2006
This upgrade of the August 21, 2000, Fox "Evolution" APES boxed set is a significant improvement over that release. All of the films are now available in 16x9 anamorphic transfers, but more importantly each film has been remastered with improved picture and sound quality.

The first, and best, film PLANET OF THE APES (1968) is here actually a reissue of Disc 1 of the 2-Disc "35th Anniversary Edition" Fox released on February 3, 2004 (the extras-loaded 2nd disc has not been included in this set), with the same menu screens and sparse commentary tracks (thankfully one from the late, great Jerry Goldsmith), but it's a fine picture transfer of this important film, with the original 4-channel stereo soundtrack elements remixed in both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS, and sound is very good for recordings that are over thirty-five years old. (The DVD picture upgrade from Fox's original non-anamorphic one isn't perfect though, with some flicker and scratches visible. Hopefully Fox will do another improvement from archival restored elements before this title comes to High Definition DVD.)

The picture quality of the four sequels to the original SF classic have been vastly improved with these THX-mastered anamorphic transfers. The images on all are much brighter and sharper, with truer color fidelity, and just as importantly, their new Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks feature much better stereo separation and directionality than the previous DVD release. (All the sequels were originally released theatrically in mono sound only.)

Still disappointing is the lack of extras for the sequels. No commentary tracks, little if any still and poster galleries. (There are Easter Eggs of behind-the-scenes footage on the discs for ESCAPE and CONQUEST, though, that have been lifted from the 2nd Disc of the Anniversary edition for the original.) The trailers for all of the films are still non-anamorphic, though, and that doesn't seem right. Could it be that Fox is holding off on such things until the inevitable High Definition DVD release, possibly in time for the 40th Anniversary of the 1968 original in 2008? Let's hope so.

Also disappointing here is the egregious cover art for each film, which I think is an effort to try and link these films to the ill-conceived 2001 "reimagining" of the franchise. Fox should have stuck with something based on the original theatrical ad and poster campaigns. This is usually what fans desire, but for some reason the people working for these home video companies don't seem to know it.

Finally, the disc of "Behind the Planet of the Apes," the 1998 documentary on the making of the APES franchise, has been included once again here. It's the exact same thing as found in the original DVD release with no enhancements. Clips from the films are still non-anamorphic. While this documentary was fine for its day, it's now nearly a decade old and should be retired. Hopefully it won't reappear in any future High Definition release (new making-of featurettes should be produced).

So, if you're an APES fan and care about seeing these films in the best possible quality -- but don't care about paying over $100 for a "Collector's Head" -- this "Legacy" boxed set is an excellent buy... that is, until HD and Blu-ray DVDs.
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VINE VOICEon August 21, 2000
A brilliant commentary on society, racism and even the Theory of Relativity. While none of the films are as fast-paced and fascinating as the original, all provide pleasure. Who would have thought Maurice Evans, Samantha's father on "Bewitched" would make such a perfect Dr. Zaius. And take note of Charleton Heston, a magnificent actor-turned shill for the NRA, showing his bare butt in the court scene. :)
Part 2, Beneath, seems like the end, but it's really the beginning. Get it? You will. Overall, it's a bit schlocky, but fun.
Part 3, Escape, comes close to the best story. Roddy McDowall and Kim Hunter are fun to watch as they return to the early 70s in Heston's original ship.
Part 4, Conquest , is a gritty and brutal episode mirroring the race and anti-war protests of the 1960s. Don Murray overacts to the gills. There was a much different ending that was cut from the film before it was released.
Only part 5, Battle, is somewhat of a turkey with poor production values and cheesy acting. Director John Huston plays "The Lawgiver." Roddy is good. So is veteran Lew Ayres.
The winner in the box set is the AMC documentary on the making of these films. Otherwise, the lack of exras would be a problem. The transfers are sadly not anamorphic, but they still rate about a 3 out of 5.
Tim Burton will make a terrific-looking version of Planet, but no way will it have the multiple layers of the original. Most of his films don't seem too coherent.
Like Dune and Lord of the Rings, this series is nearly a pop culture masterpiece.
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on April 28, 2001
A brilliant series that is captured perfectly on DVD.
However, there is one flaw: there are two scenes that appeared in the original 'director's cut' of Battle for the Planet of the Apes that were left off the DVD:
1. before the mutants leave to attack ape city, Governor Kolp shows Mendez and Alma the doomsday bomb, and instructs them to launch it at Ape City if he should not return.
2. at the end of the film, Mendez and Alma decide to not launch the bomb. instead, they worship it - with Mendez as the leader.
These two scenes nicely round out the entire series, but were only shown in the TV version. Why Fox didn't include them in the film, or at least as special features, is beyond me.
It's unforgivable. That's why the series is only getting 3 stars.
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on December 2, 2008
I have bought every Planet of the Apes release in the past on VHS and every DVD release. I have to say that this new Blu-ray transfer has let me experience all 5 Apes films like I have never seen them before.
Being that the original is 40 years old now, I had my doubts on how good it would look transfered into HD. My doubts were put to rest when the movie started. It looks stunning! As I previewed the rest of the films, the picture quaility does not falter any! I know many look at this as a way for FOX to re-issue the same DVD in a different box, but this is not the case here!
Yet, I do have a few gripes with this set. First is the package. The DVD's are held on by rubber bumbs. They are almost impossible to remove and put back on. Also, the DVD art work stinks! It does not have any of the original art work of the actors or the movies. Instead, FOX used members from APEMANIA and put them on the DVD's as art work. Now I appreciate APEMANIA and what they do to keep the origianl Planet of the Apes makeup and style alive and take nothing from them. But they do not belong on DVD covers of movies that they are not in.
Most of the special features are from the previous release but each DVD has new mini features as well. Both versions of Battle for the Planet of the Apes and Conquest of the Planet of the Apes are included on this set. Both versions are transfered into HD Blu-ray.
All in all, this is a must have DVD Blu-ray release and I can not be more than pleased with the quaility. I only wish FOX would have issued the Apes TV series on Blu-ray with this set also. Since they didn't we can only hope that the TV series will get the Blu-ray treatment also.
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on January 27, 2007
I rank the original "Planet Of The Apes" series very high among the plentiful output of science fiction movies of their era. Although the special effects are not brilliant by today's standards (compensated for somewhat by the quality designs of what they were trying to capture, even if the execution seems somewhat hampered in retrospect) and the action sequences are occasionnally rather low-impact, the strengths of the series - a great, thought-provoking and memorable story that weaves through all five movies; solid and impressive characters among both human and ape; a nice job on the photography; and mind-blowing endings to most of the movies; make up for any shortcomings.

The endings have become legendary, especially the finale to the first movie (which I'm certainly not going to give away here, in case anyone reading this is among the 22 or so people on the planet who don't yet know it; they even used to have the final shot on the Cover of one of the editions of the boxed set, for crying out loud). The secrets of the conclusions to "Beneath The Planet Of The Apes" and "Escape From The Planet Of The Apes", however, aren't nearly as well-known by people who haven't seen the movies yet, which is good, because it gives one a chance to have some of the surprises unhampered by foreknowledge. The end moments of "Escape", in particular, are haunting, the kind of thing that can give one chills just remembering it.

It's hard to talk to much about the latter movies in the saga without giving away far too much. The original, "Planet Of The Apes" has Earth astronauts making an emergency crash-landing on an unknown world, where it turns out that apes, not humans, are the dominant species. Captured, the humans - indigineous to the planet but very primitive, in addition to the more scientifically advanced spacefarers - find themselves imprisoned in wooden cages (rudimentary equivelents to the barren metal cages of old, pre-'simulated natural habitat' zoos?). The apes of the world are diverse - there are some who view the human population as mindless beasts without rights, while others are sympathetic to the humans's plight. There is also considerable friction between the three races of apes - gorillas, orangitans, and chimpanzees (notice quite a few real-world parralells yet?).

The series - which continues through "Beneath...", "Escape...", "Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes" and "Battle For The Planet Of The Apes" (disc 6 in the collection is a behind-the-scenes documentary) has some recurring characters, continues to introduce new ones, introduces new concepts and layers and twists to the concept. By the 4th and 5th entries, the series is admittedly losing some steam, but judged on their own each of those is still a good movie. Great price, too. Any fan of adventure movies, science fiction, or movies that offer volumes of fodder for thought and dream, should consider picking this set of classics up.
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on July 16, 2014
Like others, I received a different disc collection than what was shown when I ordered. What I received was Planet of the Apes Legacy Collection with the red/black/tan box and 5 blu-ray discs in one case. That must be why the image has been taken off the order page. For $23 and some change, it's still a good deal. I'll post a pic of what I received.
review image review image
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on July 31, 2001
When I was a kid, "Planet of the Apes" merchandise flooded the stores. Action figures, puzzles, guns, masks; we had it all. Unfortunately, we had to rely on the scheduling whims of network executives in order to watch the actual films that spawned this kitschy bonanza. The Age of Cable, VHS and DVD has dawned, and now we have the movies to enjoy whenever we want to time travel to a world where apes dominate. It's a decidedly downbeat and pessimistic world, but one that continues to fascinate.
And this DVD set contains the entire 5-film series, so you can watch the devolution from highly-original concept into low-budget mediocrity. Fortunately, though, the "Planet of the Apes" franchise was almost always entertaining, even as inspiration ran low. Let's look at the films in order, shall we? Set controls for the year 3978... or 3955, depending on the movie.
Planet of the Apes: The original, which over the years, has picked up some only marginally justified camp baggage. Charlton Heston plays a misanthropic astronaut who, ironically, becomes humanity's sole defender. Maurice Evans persecutes him as orangutan Dr. Zaius (who knows more about ape history than he lets on), and Roddy McDowall (soon to become synonymous with playing chimps on-screen) and Kim Hunter (and Oscar winner for "A Streetcar Named Desire"!) portray Cornelius and Zira, his chimpanzee defenders. With the lovely, fur-bikinied Linda Harrison as Nova, Heston's mute main squeeze. A genuinely thought-provoking and thrilling classic, despite a few heavy-handed attempts at humor. Worthy of special note is Jerry Goldsmith's dynamic, percussive score.
Beneath the Planet of the Apes: The bizarre, somewhat inferior, sequel, which suffers from a lower budget (witness the really poor ape masks on the extras, and a few gorilla soldiers in flimsy outfits). James Franciscus crashes to earth to find Heston, and instead finds Ms. Harrison and the apes. Everyone's back from the first except McDowall (this is the only ape film he missed). As a special bonus, James Gregory ("The Manchurian Candidate") plays a war-hungry gorilla general with gusto. Features some interesting vistas of a bombed-out New York, and a memorable mutant unmasking scene. A veritable camp-fest, and a lot of psychedelic fun.
Escape from the Planet of the Apes: An inversion of the original concept, and quite a bit closer to Pierre Boulle's original novel. McDowall returns, and with Kim Hunter and Sal Mineo ("Rebel Without a Cause"), journeys back to the present day United States, only to run afoul of a sinister government scientist. Vivacious performances by McDowall and Hunter salvage it somewhat.
Conquest of the Planet of the Apes: A more violent entry in the series, but tame by today's standards. McDowall plays his own character's son, a chimp named Caesar who is destined to overthrow humanity. And that's pretty much what he does. Ricardo Montalban performs admirably, but the series was beginning to fray with lower and lower budgets. The final visuals will chill you, though.
Battle for the Planet of the Apes: The final film. McDowall attempts to divine the future, but invites the wrath of disenfranchised humans. A miniscule budget (evidenced mainly in the final, underwhelming battle scenes) devastates this one, although the script's not too bad. Claude Akins makes a fine villainous gorilla, diminutive singer/songwriter Paul Williams has some memorable lines as a wise orangutan, and director John Huston portrays the legendary Lawgiver in the framing sequences. Award yourself a banana if you can spot "Animal House" director John Landis as one of the humans.
The complete DVD set includes a 2-hour documentary, hosted by Roddy McDowall himself. It's fun for the serious "Apes" fan. It features a lot of trivia, and talking head interviews with the major players, including Heston, make up artist John Chambers, and producer Richard Zanuck.
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Fox once again invites fans to go "ape" with the 40th Anniversary Blu-ray edition of all five of the films in the "Planet of the Apes" series. The good news is that we get exceptionally good looking transfers for all five films AND we get the extended "International cut" of "Conquest of the Planet of the Apes" with its original more downbeat ending. Audio sounds quite good but keep in mind that this these films were shot and released anywhere from 40 to 33 years ago so they aren't going to sound like "Transformers".

It looks like almost all the extras from the previously released DVD boxed set released about a year and half ago EXCEPT the live action TV series and animated TV series (both of which should have been included to make this definitive even if they were in standard definition). These were included with the DVD limited edition set. We also get new featurettes on each film and its production featuring the authors of PLANET OF THE APES REVISITED book among others. Additionally, we get a couple of vintage featurettes on the production of the films, stills galleries, isolated music tracks and an excellent commentary track on "Planet of the Apes" featuring a variety of the original cast (most of whom have passed away)and crew. Sadly, the three people that would have been most important to hear on the commentary track passed away quite some time ago--director Franklin J. Schaffner, producer Arthur Jacobs and writers Rod Serling & Michael Wilson. Still, its an intelligent and informative commentary track.

The most annoying and unnecessary extra here is the introduction by a poorly rendered CGI of "the Lawgiver" character that John Huston played in the fifth film "Battle for the Planet of the Apes". It's not that it's necessarily a BAD extra just that it is unnecessary. It is an example of a good idea at the time that clearly no one really had any idea as to how to use it effectively.

We also get a deluxe hardcover book which has plenty of terrific looking photos (some of which have never appeared in print before)and text giving us background on the production of the films. Additionally, the cardboard fold outs of the "box" have timeline for the films, where they fit and what occurs in each. ALthough the book is nice and the packaging makes good use of all the extra cardboard, fans will probably find this a bit cumersome to store with their other DVDs or Blu-rays. Additionally, the films are held in place in the set with little pieces of clear rubber that will eventually fail allowing the discs to float around inside and become damaged. Again, this is an example of a idea that seemed good on the surface but was poor in execution. I would have preferred to have one Blu-ray holder like we saw with "Blade Runner". This box could easily have been redesigned to hold that AND the book making better use of the extra space of this boxed set.

Overall, this is quite a nice set--the images are sharp and crisp for the films. The book is an excellent glimpse behind-the-scenes and the timeline welcome. Just the packaging for the films themselves is lacking and the box a bit too big and cumbersome.

In "Planet of the Apes" astronaut Taylor (Charlton Heston) and his crew arrive on a planet where apes are the dominant species and man is a mute animal. He befriends Zira (Kim Hunter) and Cornelius (Roddy McDowell)two chimpanzees who help prevent Dr. Ziaus (Maurice Evans) from carving up Taylor to protect their society. Five stars.

"Beneath the Planet of the Apes" has a different astronaut named Brent (James Franciscous) sent to discover what happened to Taylor and his crew. He and Taylor are caught in the middle of a war between apes and human mutants. Three stars-Working with a diminished budget Ted Post makes the best of his resources.

"Escape from the Planet of the Apes" focuses on Cornelius (McDowell), Zira (Hunter)and Dr. Milo (Sal Mineo)who travel back in time to 20th century Earth using Taylor's recovered spacecraft. They pose a threat to the future of humanity in the eyes of Dr. Hesslin (Eric Braedon). Four stars-Clever "fish-out-of-water" variation on the first film.

"Conquest of the Planet of the Apes" stars McDowell as Cornelius and Zira's son Ceasar who forments revolution. It seems a plague has wiped out cats and dogs. Humans have adopted domesticated apes into their homes as pets and servants. Four stars particularly for the "International Cut". A pity J. Lee Thompson didn't have a bigger budget to make this the epic it deserved to be.

"Battle for the Planet of the Apes" was the last film in the series (although there was a single season TV series that also starred McDowell as well as an animated TV series both of which are NOT part of this set). Caesar rules over a city where humans are second class citizens. When a conflict with the human survivors of his war occurs, Caesar must rally humans and apes alike to fight together for their survival. 2 stars-The weakest of the film series didn't was crippled by a weak screenplay by Joyce and John William Corrington ("The Omega Man")and a nearly non-existent budget (a little over $1 million--essentially almost making this essentially a TV movie in terms of its scope).
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