PLANET OF THE APES
Fox Home Video, $29.98
"I SEE THE WAY she looks at you," Estella Warren gripes of Helena Bonham Carter's "human-rights activist" in an extended scene from this fast-fade summer blockbuster. "She's a chimpanzee," Mark Wahlberg replies incredulously, but a simian/studmuffin sandwich would've at least given ripped-off theatergoers a talking point.
All they have now is the baffling Lincoln Memorial finale, explained in maddeningly vague terms by director Tim Burton on this double-DVD set. "I had an image of complete reversal that I felt was weird and compelling to me with other issues and elements," he babbles. "The movie's about finding things out, sort of. You can spiral out on different tangents." Great, Tim. Translation: "Thanks for the ten spot, sucker. We'll figure it out by the sequel."
Those curious as to how the filmmakers got the damn, dirty apes to look so menacing will be far better appeased. In a series of 15-minute making-of featurettes, we watch extras at so-called Simian Academy make ballet out of knuckle- dragging; cringe as Michael Clarke Duncan is fitted for ape dentures; and endure irksome stunt coordinators boasting how a combination of overhead rigging and hidden conveyor belts let charging chimp armies glide like gazelles.
One of Apes' better Easter eggs can be unearthed from the commentaries menu; instead of hearing Burton blather on about his "vision," you can access a bizarre ape commentary, in which real-life chimps steal the mike and fast-forward to primate-friendly scenes. Finally, thank god, we can do the same.
WHAT ELSE should you contemplate buying for holiday DVD gifts? The funny Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau lend their commentary to a special edition of Made. With his A Beautiful Mind due soon, Ron Howard's 1988 Willow features one disc with a few extras. Pearl Harbor comes out in two different two-disc sets (Dec. 4), the latter with WWII-period National Geographic newsreel material. (Take heed that Michael Bay's director's cut arrives on a four-disc set in May.) Part-time Seattle resident Cameron Crowe issues his "bootleg cut" of Almost Famous Dec. 4.