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Planet of the Apes - DVD Cover Graphic for Planet of the Apes
"Planet of the Apes"
"Planet of the Apes" DVD
Reviewed by Ivana Redwine
Guide Rating -

Tagline: "Rule the planet."

Length: 119 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some sequences of action/violence.

Starring Mark Wahlberg, Helena Bonham Carter, Tim Roth, and Michael Clarke Duncan, the 2001 version of "Planet of the Apes" has been released as a two-disc DVD set that's loaded with special features -- "over 13 hours of primate-packed extras," according to the DVD box. Directed by Tim Burton, this action-adventure film is an update of the popular 1968 movie of the same name that starred Charlton Heston, who has a cameo appearance in the new film. I watched the 2001 version of "Planet of the Apes" on DVD recently and found it reasonably diverting, but it's much better at spectacle than it is at drama. Also, I don't think that Wahlberg in the new version has anything like the kind of charisma that Heston had in the old, but I'd still say that overall the new and old versions are about equally entertaining.

"Planet of the Apes" (2001) opens in the year 2029, and we meet an American man named Captain Leo Davidson (Wahlberg), who soon pilots a space pod during an electromagnetic storm and winds up crash-landing on a strange planet. The planet is ruled by talking apes who wear clothes, live in a city, ride horses, have spears and armor, and worship a simian deity. I half-expected the apes in the new movie to be computer-generated, but it turns out they're all played by humans wearing ape costumes and make-up.

There are humans on the planet as well, but they either live as cavemen or serve as slaves to the apes. Davidson is quickly captured and sold to Ari (Bonham Carter), a female ape who believes in equal rights for humans and is physically attracted to him. Eventually, Davidson sets out for a place where he hopes he can be rescued, but he is pursued by the ape military, which is headed up by the nasty, bigoted General Thade (Roth) and his second in command Attar (Duncan). This leads to a 30-minute action sequence that I got bored with way before it was over.

Disc One of the DVD set provides two separate commentary tracks, one by director Tim Burton and the other by composer Danny Elfman. I didn't think Burton's commentary was worthwhile, but I liked Elfman's music in this film a lot, and I thought his commentary about how he works as a film composer was pretty interesting.

Disc One also offers something called "enhanced viewing mode," where sporadically there appears on the screen a small rectangle within which are shown brief behind-the-scenes vignettes while the movie continues to play. Also in this mode, there sometimes appears a special icon, and you can press the Enter key on your remote to have the movie interrupted temporarily by a short behind-the-scenes featurette.

Disc Two contains a wealth of bonus materials, most of which I've listed below. I particularly enjoyed the six featurettes. The HBO special is like a long commercial, and I loathed it. I would have liked the music video "Rule the Planet Remix" a lot better if I had muted the sound.

Selected Special Features on the DVDs:

  • Two-Disc Set
  • Enhanced Viewing Mode
  • Commentary by Director Tim Burton
  • Commentary by Composer Danny Elfman
  • Featurette: Simian Academy
  • Featurette: Face Like a Monkey
  • Featurette: Ape Couture
  • Featurette: On Location - Lake Powell
  • Featurette: Swinging from the Trees
  • Featurette: Chimp Symphony, Op. 37
  • Screen Tests (5)
  • Multi-Angle Featurettes (4)
  • Extended Scenes (5)
  • HBO Special
  • Trailers & TV Spots
  • Music Video: "Rule the Planet Remix"
  • Gallery of Still Images
  • Cast & Crew Profiles
  • NUON Features
  • DVD Release Date: November 20, 2001

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