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PRETTY WOMAN (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 24, 2009 by  



“Nearly 20-years later and ‘Pretty Woman’ continues to be a delightful and charming romantic comedy.   A timeless classic featuring stellar performances by both Richard Gere and Julia Roberts.  The Blu-ray edition is the definitive version to own!”

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TITLE: PRETTY WOMAN

DURATION: 120 minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1), English 5.1 uncompressed (48 khz/24-bit), English 5.1, Frenh and Spanish 2.0 Digital, English SDH, French and Spanish Subtitles

COMPANY:  Touchstone Home Entertainment

RATED: R

Release Date: February 10, 2009

Directed by Garry Marshall

Written by J.F. Lawton

Produced by Arnon Milchan and Steven Reuther

Executive Producers Laura Ziskin

Director of Photography: Charles Minsky

Production Designer: Albert Brenner

Music by James Newton Howard

Co-Produced: Gary W. Goldstein

Cast:

Richard Gere as Edward Lewis

Julia Roberts as Vivian Ward

Ralph Bellamy as James Morse

Jason Alexander as Philip Stuckey

Laura San Giacomo as Kit De Luca

Alex Hyde-White as David Morse

Amy Yasbeck as Elizabeth Stuckey

Elinor Donahue as Bridget

Hector Elizondo as Barney Thompson

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The delightful and charming romantic comedy “PRETTY WOMAN” which would win hearts courtesy of the wonderful performances by Richard Gere and Julia Roberts and its fantastic music now makes its Blu-ray debut nearly 20 years after the film’s debut.

“PRETTY WOMAN” is about Edward Lewis (Gere) who is a business tycoon that takes over major companies and dismantles them for a profit.  He could never have a good relationship with a woman because he’s always busy and somehow, there is a certain loneliness within his life.

Vivian Ward (Roberts) is a prostitute.  A woman who moved to Los Angeles and to make ends meet, she is a prostitute and lives with another prostitute named Kit (San Giacomo) and both need money quickly to pay the rent.  One night on the job, she is encountered by Edward who struggles to drive a vehicle via stick shift back to his hotel in Beverly Hills, the Beverly Hills Wilshire.  Fortunately, he asks for the help of Vivian who knows about sports cars and how to drive a stick shift and thus she helps him back to his hotel.

With a business deal coming up and events to attend, Edward needs a woman to accompany him.  He hires Vivian for the week and eventually, the time spent together eventually changes Edward for the best and even changing Vivian.   Both feeling their lives being changed for the better by being with each other.  But with their “working relationship” coming to an end, Vivian starts to develop feelings for him and sees Edward as her prince but will their story become a “Cinderella story” or just another business transaction.

When I first watched this film, I absolutely fell in love with it.  I purchased it on VHS, the CD soundtrack, the director’s cut LaserDisc, the 10th Anniversary and then the 15th Anniversary DVD special edition, multiple release which I didn’t mind.   The film has become so much of a favorite that I have traveled to Beverly Hills to check out the Beverly Wilshire, to looking for similar suits and ties around that time period that Edward Lewis would sport, discovering the opera “La Traviata” and eventually listening to opera music.  Needless to say, this film at the time, really touched my life and it’s hard to believe that nearly 20 years have passed by.

There are so many memorable moments in the film that are just classic, it’s a film that has become a classic.   Just to let everyone know, this version is the theatrical version and does not include the director’s cut with the extra five minutes of footage.  But how does the Blu-ray edition fare?  Read on.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

The film is presented in 1080p high definition (1:85:1).  The picture quality is not eye-popping beautiful if compared to a film created in the past few years but for a film nearly 20 years old, it looks pretty good on Blu-ray.   There are a variety of scenes that I really looked closely, one being Vivian’s first trip to Rodeo Drive and seeing how the outdoor shots would be, the second would be at the polo match and another would be during the restaurant scene.  The picture quality was very good but it had a bit of grain, which is no surprise since grain is part of film.  But again, it wasn’t vibrant compared to a recent film but for a film of its time, it looks very good on Blu-ray.

In fact, the film on Blu-ray is the definitive version to own ala picture quality.

As for the audio, the audio is presented in English 5.1 uncompressed (48khz/24-bit) and having a lossless English 5.1 48khz, 24-bit track is pretty damn good.  If anything dialogue is clear, music is very clear and it’s what I expected from a dialogue-based film.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

Unfortunately, for those who were hoping for something new since the 15th Anniversary Edition DVD, unfortunately there are none.  So, if you own the latest DVD edition, you probably are familiar with these special features.  Included on the special features of the Blu-ray disc are:

  • Blooper Reel – A blooper reel that is quite dated ala picture quality-wise but otherwise fun to watch.
  • “Live from the Wrap Party” – Richard Gere, Garry Marshall and band along with Julia Roberts jamming.  Richard Gere was great on the piano and Marshall, playing the drums and Roberts singing.  A fun featurette but was probably taken via a personal video camera because it looks dated.
  • LA: The Pretty Woman Tour – This section allows people to select on a map, various locations featured in “Pretty Woman”.  For example, click “Beverly Hills Wilshire” and video plays with Garry Marshall giving you his memories of the location and information about it.
  • 1990 Production Featurette – A featurette on the making of the film, interviews and more!
  • “Wild Women Do” music video performed by Natalie Cole – I was really hoping that we would see other music video hits included such as Go West’s “King of Wishful Thinking”, Roxette’s “It’s Over Now” and more but only a single video which was on the original DVD release.
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Feature Audio Commentary with Director Gary Marshall – This is the same commentary from the 15th Anniversary Edition which was released back in 2005.  The 10th Anniversary Edition utilized the director’s cut from the LD version and I’m often asked which commentary did I enjoy the most.  The 15th Anniversary/Blu-ray commentary has newer commentary and you hear details that Marshall remembers of the film and how everyone has done since the release of the film “PRETTY WOMAN”.  But commentary-wise, I felt Marshall’s director’s cut commentary was very good because it was not long after the release of the film, so a lot of details were mentioned in his first commentary.  Granted, for redoing a commentary for a film over 15 years later, was well done.

Now, surprising is that the deleted scenes (which were included on the film for the director’s cut on LaserDisc and the special edition DVD’s) are not included as a special feature.  So, for those who prefer the extended version of the film, then the 15th Anniversary Edition DVD is the version to own.

I personally love this film and when the LaserDisc version first came out, it was technologically big because it included the director’s cut and featured an audio commentary.  With the Blu-ray edition, I wasn’t sure if I would be blown away by the picture quality and the audio quality.  The Blu-ray experience of “PRETTY WOMAN” was in the most part good but not great.

There are no extra special features that makes this better in content versus the 15th Anniversary DVD but its strength is that it’s featured in 1080p High Definition and an uncompressed 5.1 track (48khz and 24-bit).  Picture quality and audio-wise, if you have a television and receiver that can take advantage of the high definition treatment of this film, then it’s even much more enjoyable because of the better quality.  But anything more than that and unfortunately, there is nothing new special-feature wise compared to the 15th Anniversary Special Edition DVD.   I would have loved to hear a commentary or a retrospective featurette with Garry Marshall and some of the talent but with Richard Gere and Julia Roberts doing quite well with their careers, not sure if we would ever see that.  Hopefully in the 25th Anniversary release?  So, if there was one bummer of the Blu-ray edition was the fact that there is nothing new added to the special features.

Also, there are some who prefer the theatrical version and some who will prefer the extended cut version.  The Blu-ray version of the film is the theatrical version and the deleted scenes (extra five minutes of footage) added for the director’s cut on LaserDisc and on the 15th Anniversary Special Edition DVD are not included on this Blu-ray edition.  But for those who were not happy with the extended versions from the original DVD and wanted only the theatrical version, then with the Blu-ray edition, purists who despised the extended cut and have waited a long time for the original, theatrical version will definitely be happy with this release.

But overall, this romantic comedy is still enjoyable and charming now as it was then.  Richard Gere and Julia Roberts did a fantastic job, Garry Marshall did a spectacular job as well as with everyone cast in this film from Jason Alexander to Hector Elizondo, everyone did a great job.  It’s a fantastic film  and of all the previous versions that have been released, having owned so many previous releases, the Blu-ray edition is the definitive version to own.

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