Blu-ray: RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (2011)
Those damn, dirty apes look quite amazing in this 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 Blu-ray. This is certainly one of the best Blu-ray releases of the year. The picture quality is crystal clear adding great depth and detail. Weta's CG apes really stand out from fur to skin textures to their realistic looking eyes. The color palette is natural and clean with black levels inky throughout. There is a light film grain that runs through the picture, which does not increase during night scenes. Crush in those night scenes is also nonexistent. As for compression issues and other digital artifacts, they are completely absent.
The DTS-HD 5.1 Master soundtrack is just as impressive as the picture. The audio mix never misses a beat either in dialogue scenes or the epic action sequences toward the end. Ape growls and screams rattle the LFE track. Directionality is nicely handled, especially in the action scenes when spears come whizzing by the viewers and apes stampede past. Ambience is also handled wonderfully throughout whether it's quieter scenes in the redwood forest or the loud ape-filled cages of the animal sanctuary. Patrick Doyle's great score also surrounds the audience to great effect in getting the audience wrapped up in the plight of Caesar and his fellow apes.
The disc is also filled with a nice assortment of special features. The twelve deleted scenes were either cut for time or alternative choices to various key scenes. When it comes to the alternative choices, I felt in each case the filmmakers chose the correct direction for the finished film. The detailed scenes also show off Andy Serkis' amazing performance capture acting, because they were cut before a fully rendered Caesar was added.
Another nice feature is the PiP option of seeing the performance capture and previs playing along with the film. It really highlights again how much of Serkis' performance is right up there on the screen. And if that isn't enough there is the featurette "Studying the Genius of Andy Serkis.'
"A New Generation of Apes" and "Breaking Motion Capture Boundaries" are the best mini-docs on the disc. They focus is on the Oscar-worthy visual effects and the performers that brought the digital apes to life. I hadn't known that the film was the first to use an outdoor daylight motion capture set.
"Capturing Caesar – Script to Screen" is your standard behind the scenes press kit featurette and "Mythology of the Apes" does the same with the story and the franchise as a whole. "Composing the Score" is as the title states, but Doyle makes it more fun than you'd expect with his lively personality.
There are also three "nature" mini-docs that fill viewers in on facts about chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans.