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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Ted Post
Cast:
Charlton Heston, James Franciscus, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans, Linda Harrison, Paul Richards
Writing Credits:
Pierre Boulle (novel, "La PlanŤte des singes"), Mort Abrahams (story), Paul Dehn

Tagline:
The bizarre world you met in 'Planet of the Apes' was only the beginning ... What lies beneath may be the end!

Synopsis:
The second installment in the Planet of the Apes series finds another astronaut (Franciscus) following in Heston's time-wandering footsteps to a planet ruled by highly evolved apes where he encounters a group of nuclear holocaust survivors living in Grand Central Station and worshipping the very atomic warhead that destroyed their world. Followed by Escape From The Planet of the Apes.

Box Office:
Budget
$3.0 million.
Domestic Gross
$17.489 million.

MPAA:
Rated G

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Monaural
French Monaural
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 94 min.
Price: $14.98
Release Date: 3/28/2006

Bonus:
• Cast
• Photo Gallery
• Trailers


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EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Beneath The Planet Of The Apes (1970)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 24, 2006)

After the critical and financial success of 1968ís Planet of the Apes, a sequel became inevitable. That flick made it to the big screen in 1970 via Beneath the Planet of the Apes. The movieís prologue launches right at the end of the first story. We see Taylor (Charlton Heston) and Nova (Linda Harrison) as they go out to explore whatís left of the Earth.

We immediately cut to a crashed spacecraft, though. Only astronaut Brent (James Franciscus) survives, and he soon comes across Nova. She doesnít talk, so she canít explain what happened to Taylor, though Brent understands a link exists since she wears her manís dogtags. We see some of Novaís experiences via flashback. Brent insists that she take him to someone who can speak, and they end up back in ape civilization.

Just like Taylor, Brent comes fresh from 20th century society, so this setting surprises him. We meet General Ursus (James Gregory), a warmonger who wants to further explore what he perceives as dangers in the Forbidden Zone. He also promotes the hatred and fear of humans. This upsets Zira (Kim Hunter) and Cornelius (David Watson), Taylorís pals from the first flick.

Brent hides from the other simians but catches up with Zira and Cornelius. They update him before he and Nova head off to the Forbidden Zone and a quest to locate Taylor. When they arrive, they find many exotic secrets and matters lead toward a conflict between human and ape.

A lackluster sequel, I find it hard to think of many positives to attach to Beneath. Actually, the flickís biggest strength Ė for me, at least Ė comes from Harrisonís continued presence. She was an amazing babe, and she stills scorches here.

I like the minor expansion of our understanding of ape society as well. The film focuses more on elements of the Forbidden Zone, but we see a little more with the apes. Those parts become entertaining and intriguing, though they appear infrequently. Cornelius and Zira play surprisingly minor roles, and since Heston didnít want to do a sequel, he barely pops up as well.

Which leads us toward a few of the movieís main weaknesses. One comes from Hestonís essential absence. Brent is really the same role as Taylor; they just changed the name and circumstances to explain why we see so little of Heston. We could easily replace Brent with Taylor and the movie would not change much.

In fact, itíd make more sense, since Brent accepts ape society awfully easily. In the original, Taylor found it tough to come to terms with intelligent, talking simians, but Brent seems to swalloe this with little more than a shrug. Granted, this helps ensure that Beneath isnít just a remake of Apes, but it doesnít seem too logical.

The filmís biggest revelations come when Brent finds out the secrets of the Forbidden Zone and what lies beneath the planet. I wonít specify these because I like to avoid spoilers, but letís just say that the discoveries are massive disappointments. The movie keeps us mildly interested as we see the build-up to those events, but once we find out whatís down there, the flick becomes idiotic and silly.

Frankly, the movieís story seems like little more than a series of political and social statements linked by some goofiness. Of course, the original offered similar commentary, but it did so much more effectively. This one turns heavy-handed and absurd before it concludes with an exceptionally dark ending. That finale should offer something impressive, but given the inanity that precedes it, the finish lacks bite.

And that goes for the rest of Beneath the Planet of the Apes as well. The film makes little sense and fails to intrigue or entertain when it does. It goes far out of its way to make its social points and lacks coherence or logic. I like the original Apes but find Beneath to be a disappointing successor.


The DVD Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B+/ Bonus D-

Beneath the Planet of the Apes appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Despite my disappointment with the film, I found little about the transfer than I could criticize.

With only minor exceptions, sharpness excelled. Some wide shots exhibited a little softness at times, but I didnít find too many examples of those concerns. The vast majority of the flick demonstrated very good delineation and definition. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and no problems with edge enhancement manifested themselves. Source flaws also seemed very modest. A few shots looked a bit grainy, and one or two blemishes appeared. That was it, as the rest of the flick seemed clean.

As was the case with the original Apes, Beneath went with a fairly restrained palette. It favored arid tones and depicted those well. When bright colors popped up, it displayed very nice vivacity and liveliness. The hues were consistently strong. Blacks seemed deep and firm, while low-light shots came across as clear and smooth. Some of the grain and mild softness almost knocked my picture grade to a ďB+Ē, but I thought that the visuals held up too well to drop my mark below an ďA-ď. This was an impressive transfer.

This release of Beneath the Planet of the Apes boasted a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. The soundfield opened up matters in a fairly impressive way when I considered the age of the material. The score showed pretty good stereo imaging, while effects expanded nicely to the sides and surrounds. Some of the Forbidden Zone elements presented the best usage of the various channels, though battle scenes and gunfire worked well too. This was a reasonably active and involving track.

At times the audio was a little dated, but the sound appeared quite good for its age. Speech could be a little flat, but the lines were always intelligible and lacked edginess. Though high-end parts of the score seemed a bit tinny, the music was generally lively and robust. Effects also showed nice definition and punch given the age of the elements. Those parts were acceptably clean and concise. This was a pretty solid track and it supported the film well.

Only a few minor extras fill out the DVD. Cast simply lists the names and roles of 10 actors. Thereís no biographical information included. Whatís the point?

Photo Gallery presents seven behind the scenes shots. We see various stages of ape makeup in this moderately interesting but awfully short set. Theatrical Trailers features ads for Planet of the Apes, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Escape from the Planet of the Apes, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, Battlew for the Planet of the Apes, the 2001 Planet of the Apes and a ďPlanet of the Apes CrosspromotionĒ that touts the first five films.

After the rich and exciting Planet of the Apes, its first sequel comes as a massive disappointment. It lacks an interesting story, compelling action, or much reason to exist other than as an excuse to make money. I guess it succeeded since they created three more Apes sequels, but I didnít think much of Beneath. The DVD lacked substantial extras but it offered terrific picture and very good audio. I canít recommend this DVD to non-fans, but those with an affection for the apes will be pleased with this discís quality.

A purse-strings note: you can buy Beneath the Planet of the Apes on its own or as part of a six-DVD Planet of the Apes Legacy boxed set. That package includes Beneath along with the original Planet of the Apes, Escape from the Planet of the Apes, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, Battle for the Planet of the Apes, and the documentary Behind the Planet of the Apes.

Fox presents Behind solely in Legacy and the super-duper $180 Planet of the Apes Ultimate Collection, though Image Entertainment produces a two-disc version on its own. For fans who want all the movies but who are not eager to shell out the big bucks for Ultimate, the Legacy set is a nice bargain. Separately, the five movies list for about $75, while the Legacy retails for $50. Toss in Behind as well and itís a nice set for Apes fans.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.1428 Stars Number of Votes: 7
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