When Bridge on the River Kwai author Pierre Boulle wrote topsy-turvy sci-fi allegory La Planete des Singes in 1963, he could scarcely have imagined that his apparently unfilmable novella would spawn one bona fide big screen classic, four sequels of varying (but generally high) quality, a shoddy TV series, the first merchandising phenomenon in cinema history – and an egregious 2001 ‘re-imagining’ courtesy of Tims Burton and Roth. Thankfully, such missteps are omitted from this 40th anniversary collection, which comprises a stunning HD transfer of the 1968 original – good to the last, unforgettable shot – and prints of the sequels which, while not as crisp as the first, are sharp enough to reveal the cheaper ape masks used in background shots of the later films. Each of these has something to recommend it, being built around an idea rather than the simple desire to cash in, and the fourth film, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, reinstates footage cut to secure a PG rating.
EXTRAS: The copious extras from previous editions – commentaries, documentaries, timelines, archive material, dailies, outtakes and more – are supplemented by a host of new material, all presented in HD. Seven individual featurettes trace the evolution of the film from page to screen, the fascinating story behind each of the five films, and the impact of the five-film series on society and pop culture. For younger fans, there are introductions by a CG rendering of the Lawgiver, a goofy Public Service Announcement from ANSA, ‘the American National Space Administration’, and a well-judged, remote control-driven adventure game linking scientific quiz questions with progress across the Forbidden Zone. Add an isolated 5.1 DTS score track for each film and you have a package well worth getting your stinkin’ paws on.