Battle For The Planet Of The Apes was the last of the original Apes films. It has been far too frequently maligned. While I will admit that some of the high concepts are a little too undisguised, there was still some life left in the franchise. Of course, the novelty had worn off by now. It didn’t help that the films’ budgets kept falling as Fox was looking for cheaper ways to sell the same ideas. “Battle” was a violent film, but it was really a film about peace and the violent rite of passage often necessary to ac…ieve any long-term tranquility.
Roddy McDowell was, in fact, Planet Of The Apes. He appeared in four of the original films as well as the short-lived television series. The series was a victim not of its viewership, but rather a strong anti-violence movement aimed at the television industry at the time. While it was no more violent than most shows, it seemed to draw the most fire. Whether playing Cornelius in the first film, Caesar in the final two, or Galen in the series, McDowell had an uncanny ability to bring emotion and strength of character to the Apes make-up. He brought a realistic animation to a risky business. The Apes films might have easily become farces with laughable characters that no one took seriously enough to listen to the social commentary being offered. With the help of brilliant makeup artist Chambers, these characters were real. Paul Williams was a surprising cast choice. Better known for writing syrupy love songs, the singer did a fine job as the cynical brain trust, Virgil. Claude Akins brings the gruffness of gorilla Aldo exactly what it needs. The cast is pretty solid.
Battle For The Planet Of The Apes is presented in its original theatrical release aspect ratio of 2.35:1. This is a wonderful transfer. It is far superior to the more bland version offered in the previous release. Colors are vibrant and alive. The Apes makeup is seen likely in more detail than previously possible. I was able to discern shade variations on McDowell’s facial makeup I had not been capable of before. Trust me, I’ve watched these films hundreds of times on DVD, VHS, and even laser disc. Black levels are strong and shadow detail is high. The overall sharpness is stunning when compared to other prints of the film. If this is what the entire new set looks like, it might well be worth the upgrade..
The upgrade is not quite so dramatic here. Still, this is at least as strong a soundtrack as the previous DVD. This is a nice Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. Surrounds are not aggressive, which would have been nice during the climatic battle. Dialogue is always clean. You can hear every word just fine, even during the harsh sounds of explosions. I would have liked to hear more from my subs during these loud explosions, but there’s enough there for you to compensate somewhat.
Because of a rather poor editing decision, the original film often left us scratching our heads. It did not seem to fit in to the continuity of the original films. A missing 10 minutes of footage has finally been restored. This footage puts this film squarely in line with the second. We finally find out what most of us have long suspected: that the city’s deformed inhabitants are the ancestors of the bomb worshippers who capture and finally kill Taylor (Heston). We actually see the alpha-omega bomb for the first time and find out why it became so venerated. This footage alone makes the DVD a necessary upgrade.
There are also trailers for all of the Apes films.
I have owned the original laserdiscs and the Apes box set from a few years ago. I was not considering yet another upgrade with this Legacy collection now being offered. That may have changed with watching “Battle For The Planet Of The Apes.” I must say that if all of these films received this kind of attention, it is a worthwhile investment. If you are a fan of this wonderful series, I would say go for it and upgrade, hopefully for the last time. But then again “Who knows about the future?”
Special Features List
- Cast Page
- Extended Footage