Planet of the Apes (2001)
15th January 2002
Captain Leo Davidson is based on space station Oberon and trains chimpanzees to fly space pods to investigate space anomalies. When once such electromagnetic storm is located near the space station a chimp is sent out to take readings from within the storm and then return back to the space station. However, when the station looses contact with the chimp Leo heads out in another delta pod to retrieve the chimp.
But when he enters the electromagnetic storm strange things start happening to the delta pod. It appears that he's become caught in some form of time slip and thrown thousands of years into the future. With his ship damaged he crash lands on an earth type planet but he's not greeted by humans but intelligent and vocally capable apes. Far from being welcome he soon discovers that humans are hunted as vermin and kept in cages as pets. Could he really be back on earth?
As with all Tim Burton films there are plenty of dark and gloomy scenes that can quickly expose a poor transfer. However, what we have here is a near perfect transfer with rich and vibrant colours that show no signs of colour bleeding, outlining or any sort of artifacting. The high bit-rate and amount of detail throughout the film is brilliant and if you are in the market for either a new DVD player or projector then this film should be your demonstration material.
With so many recent "middle of the road" films having both DTS and Dolby Digital soundtracks there has been little chance to really compare the two formats in an effects laden film. Fortunately, what we have here is a very noisy and active soundstage that will give your neighbours a headache and your surround system the workout it truly deserves.
Both formats offer some superb surround and ambient effects and whilst the sub-woofer hasn't been neglected with plenty of LFE's. The dialogue is clearly audible in the centre channel and it remains fixed there throughout the film. Along with the excellent Danny Elfman musical score it is hard to separate the two competing sound formats. However, this is yet another film where my favourite was the DTS with its slightly brighter and wider soundstage.
The menu system is beautifully animated with a wonderful landscape flyby introduction. However, with so many animated menus it starts to become a little tedious selecting the extras you want to view when you can't bypass all the animated introductions. There's such a thing as over doing it!
Fox continues to introduce their discs with their "aren't our discs wonderful" routine and that is certainly the case here boasting over 13 hours of extras. There's so many that they spill onto an equally impressive second disc with a number of "making of" documentaries that run to over an hour, interesting gallery and extended scenes. There's even a neat little postcard explaining the timeline theory behind the film. However, I'm not sure if this was a late addition to try and explain the near unexplainable ending of the film.
The only minor disappointment in this impressive disc package is the rather bland commentary by Tim Burton. He recently admitted hating doing audio commentaries, stating that he was rubbish at them and that he won't be doing anymore. Sorry Tim, but after listening to Sleepy Hollow I'll have to agree with you there. The cynics amongst us could claim that this package has been boosted to make up for the films relative failure at the box office. However, if you can class a film that took over $200 million in the US alone a flop then I'd hate to see what a right stinker would make. I just hope they didn't spend too much on those special effects otherwise they'll be looking down the side of the sofa for loose change.
Although Tim Burton never claimed he wanted to remake the original film there's still plenty of references to the previous film and a cameo role from a certain actor who appeared in the first. As with the ground breaking, and Oscar winning, ape prosthetics in the first film this version also impresses and the Making of Documentary shows the amount of time and effort went into the make up.
The fact that this is a double disc set makes this package well worth a look in. Just remove your brain before sitting down to view the film and then remember to put it back in when you come to view the excellent and interesting extras. It's just a pity about the general storyline and the choice of the lead role.