Although I swore I wasn't going to start re-buying movies on blu-ray, when I found this one on sale it was too good to pass up. Housed in a really nice sturdy box, these five discs are loaded to the gills with special features, most of which weren't available on the original DVD box set. That helps make the double dip a lot less painful.
I won't go too much into the story, except to say that very loose interpretations of physics are used to catapult 3 astronauts forward in time. These astronauts, commanded by Charlton Heston's Taylor, find themselves on a planet dominated by apes, where humans are the animals. This flip allowed the first film to use allegory in much the same way that Star Trek was doing at the same time. Take a social commentary and place it in a science-fiction environment and suddenly it doesn't seem so much like social commentary. The first film taken on its own is still one of the most intelligent science fiction films of all time.
Taylor, of course, finds that the Planet of the Apes was not at all what he thought it was. A search party, headed by Brent (James Fransiscus) somehow manages the exact same time travel as Taylor and arrives shortly after him. Brent discovers the planet has another race of intelligent inhabitants -- mutants.
Meanwhile, offscreen, the apes Cornelius (Roddy McDowell), Zira (Kim Hunter) and Milo (Sam Mineo) have repaired Taylor's ship and left the planet. Using the same loose interpretation of physics again, the apes are transported back in time to 1970's Earth where they shock the entire population with their ability to speak and reason. While they find that they have become celebrities in human circles, some are plotting to ensure that their race never becomes dominant. Soon they are fugitives seeking help from circus owner Armando (Ricardo Montalban).
20 years later, a mysterious plague has wiped out all dogs and cats on Earth. Taking apes as pets and then as slaves, humans now live in a strange totalitarian state. However, the son of Zira and Cornelius, Caesar (Roddy McDowell again) vows revenge and refuses to see the apes live as slaves. Rebellion is inevitable.
Later still, humanity have destroyed most of the Earth in a nuclear war. A small group of humans and apes led by Caesar live in an imperfect but tranquil village. War is brewing, however, because the gorilla general Aldo doesn't like nor trust humans. And there is a group of surviving irradiated humans living in a destroyed city, caretakers of a nuclear bomb capable of finishing the job that the war started.
Will humans and apes ever live in peace? This is one of the major running themes through all five films.
Although this set is only five discs, it does include Behind the Planet of the Apes which was previously included as sixth bonus disc on the DVD editions. Here it is included on disc one, along with multiple commentaries, makeup tests, a public service announcement from ANSA, and much more. The third film and fourth films are both available in original and extended editions, previously unavailable on DVD. On each film's disc, you will also get featurettes and introductions from the ape Lawmaker.
The box itself is really nice, with a huge full colour book inside. This book, if sold on its own, would be over $20 itself. There is also a nice timeline included to help you keep all the different threads straight. The discs are held in place by rubber tabs, which can be a bit of a pain to work with, but you shouldn't find your discs sliding out.
This set is simply excellent value for the money. It looked crisp and clear, sounded great, and makes all DVD editions obselete.