Probably something that we never saw coming… Especially how Ricky Gervais dissed Johnny Depp (and Angelina Jolie) for their film “The Tourist”.
For those who don’t remember, when Gervais was the host and doing his monologue, he said, “It seems like everything this year was three dimensional – except the characters in The Tourist”. And when the camera panned on Depp, let’s just say, he wasn’t looking too thrilled.
But of course, Depp is known to take those jokes in stride and in Gervais’ upcoming show “Life’s Too Short”, Depp confronts Gervais’ on what took place at the Golden Globes.
“The Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” continues the fun adventures of Jack Sparrow and as expected, wonderful visuals, plenty of action and beautiful cinematography and music. But for those wanting to purchase this film on Blu-ray, it’s important to note that the majority of the special features are included on the 5-disc version of “On Stranger Tides” as opposed to the 2-Disc version.
© 2011 Disney. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – 2-Disc Combo Pack
FILM RELEASE: 2011
DURATION: 136 minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1), English, French and Spanish 7.1 DTS-HD HR, English DVS 2.0 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
COMPANY: Walt Disney Home Entertainment
RATED: PG-13 (Some Intense Sequences of Action/Adventure Violence, Some Frightening Images, Sensuality and Innuendo)
Release Date: October 11, 2011
Directed by Rob Marshall
Screenplay by Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio
Characters by Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Stuart Beattie and Jay Wolpert
Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer
Executive Producer: John DeLuca, Ted Elliott, Chad Oman, Melissa Reid, Terry Rossio, Pat Sandston, Mike Stenson, Barry H. Waldman
Music by Hans Zimmer
Cinematography by Dariusz Wolski
Edited by David Brenner, Michael Kahn, Wyatt Smith
Casting by Lucy Bevan, Kathy Driscoll, Francine Maisler
Production Design by John Myre
Art Direction by Drew Boughton, John Chichester, Robert Cowper, Zack Grobler, Tomas Voth
Set Decoration by Gordon Sim
Costume Design by Penny Rose
Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow
Penelope Cruz as Angelica Teach
Geoffrey Rush as Barbossa
Ian McShane as Blackbeard
Kevin McNally as Joshamee Gibbs
Sam Claflin as Philip
Astrid Berges-Frisbey as Svrena
Stephen Graham as Scrum
Keith Richards as Captain Teague
Richard Griffiths as ing George
Greg Ellis as Groves
Damian O’Hare as Gillette
From Disney and producer Jerry Bruckheimer comes all the fun, epic adventure and humor that ignited the original. Johnny Depp returns as Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. A tale of truth, betrayal, youth, demise — and mermaids! When Jack crosses paths with a woman from his past (Penélope Cruz), he’s not sure if it’s love or if she’s a ruthless con artist using him to find the fabled Fountain of Youth. Forced aboard the ship of the most feared pirate ever, Jack doesn’t know who to fear more —Blackbeard (Ian McShane) or the woman from his past. Directed by Rob Marshall, it’s filled with eye-popping battle scenes, mystery and all-out wit.
If there is one thing that is consistent with “Pirates of the Caribbean”, you know that this film will make a ton of money in the box office.
And while many thought that the “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” was finished with the third film in the trilogy, “At World’s End” would be the last we would see of Jack Sparrow. But the truth is, that no matter how film critics have shown their declining interest in the film, the audience have not.
And with the release of the fourth film “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”, once again, the audience have shown their love for this film as it became the 8th highest grossing film of all time (worldwide), the third highest grossing film of 2011 and following “Dead Man’s Chest” and “Toy Story 3″, the third highest grossing film for Disney. The film which cost anywhere between $150-$250 million to make, earned over $1 billion in the box office.
And now “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” makes its debut on Blu-ray and DVD for the very first time in Oct. 2011 courtesy of Walt Disney Home Entertainment.
The fourth installment, “On Stranger Tides” begins with a man being found in the sea by the Spanish who knows about the “Fountain of Youth”. Immediately, the Spanish make their trip to locate the “Fountain of Youth”, while the British have arrested Jack Sparrow (played by Johnny Depp) and brings the pirate before King George II (played by Richard Griffiths). There are rumors that Jack Sparrow is recruiting men to search for the Fountain of Youth, but it appears it is someone else who is using his name that is recruiting people, not the real Jack Sparrow.
King George wants Jack Sparrow to help the British find the Fountain of Youth but heading the expedition is Jack’s nemesis, Captain Hector Barbosa (played by Geoffrey Rush, who was the antagonist of the first film, “The Curse of the Black Pearl”). Barbosa is now a privateer working for the British Navy after losing his leg and his ship, the Black Pearl (which Jack lost in the last film “At World’s End”).
But Jack refuses to work under Barbosa and escapes from British custody. While he is chased around by the British, he is saved by his father Captain Teague (played by Keith Richards) who warns Jack and tells him about the tests that are needed in order for the Fountain of Youth to work.
Meanwhile, Jack encounter the person responsible for impersonating him, it’s his old girlfriend Angelica (played by Penelope Cruz) who happens to be the daughter of the ruthless pirate Blackbeard (played by Ian McShane), a legendary pirate known for his supernatural powers and to sue voodoo magic.
Angelica meanwhile has captured Jack and he is stuck on Blackbeard’s ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge and Blackbeard expects Jack Sparrow to use his knowledge and help them find the two silver chalices (which once belonged to Juan Ponce de Leon) that are needed to activate the Fountain of Youth, but also needed is a tear from a living mermaid. How it works is that one must be a sacrifice and drink one chalice, while that person’s life is transferred to the drinker of the mermaid’s tear, extending their life.
So, now it’s a race against time as the Spanish, Blackbeard along with Jack Sparrow and the British under Captain Barbosa try to get their hands on the chalices to activate the fountain of youth. Who will succeed?
“Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1). And as one can expect from Disney, the picture quality is fantastic. The majority of the film is shot outdoors, at sea or during day or night and for the most part, detail is high, skin tones are natural and blacks are deep and inky.
And once again, cinematographer Dariusz Wolski should receive credit for his spectacular cinematography, from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films to “Alice in Wonderland”, Wolski is an expert in shooting in the darkest of scenes, underwater, in smoke and chaotic sequences and there is no artifacts, banding or any problematic situations in the picture quality at all.
Overall, “On Stranger Tides” is a fantastic looking film and looks absolutely wonderful on Blu-ray!
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
What best than to present this film with a lossless English, French and Spanish 7.1 DTS-HD HR presentation. The surround channels are heavily used in Hans Zimmer’s wonderful score to the swordfights, the sound of boots walking on the deck, the sound of blasts, the growl of the mermaids and scenery ambiance, and throughout all this immersive sound, dialogue is crystal clear and understandable.
The LFE for the film is wonderful and like the wonderful picture quality of the film, the lossless audio soundtrack is also fantastic!
Subtitles are presented in English SDH, French and Spanish.
“Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” comes with the following special features:
- Disney Second Screen – Viewers can watch the film simultaneously through their iPad or computer.
- Disney Second Screen Bloopers of the Caribbean – (3:25) Outtakes rom the making of “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”.
- Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by director Rob Marshall and executive producer John DeLuca discuss the cast members, the making of the film and its challenges during production and more.
- LEGO Animated Shorts: Captain Jack’s Brick Tales – (5:19) Featuring five Lego animated shorts for “Captain Jack’s Brick Tales”.
When it comes to popcorn action films “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” manages to incorporate the fun, swashbuckling action of Jack Sparrow and Johnny Depp does a wonderful job of playing Jack Sparrow. But one’s enjoyment is subjective, especially whether or not you have felt that your passion for the film series is starting to wane a bit.
After the third “Pirates of the Caribbean” film, I have to say that “At World’s End” left me feeling bitter because it was not a great film to end the trilogy. But because these films make a tremendous amount of money, there is no way that we are going to see an end to this film series. In fact, a fifth film is being planned and Johnny Depp is returning, so as long as the audience continues to come out to see the films, I don’t see why Disney should stop. People still love “Pirates of the Caribbean”.
Personally, I enjoyed the film but unlike previous “Pirates of the Caribbean” films, it felt a bit light when it came to Jack Sparrow because there is so much emphasis on other characters. In fact, I found myself enjoying scenes with the Christian Philip (played by Sam Claflin)and the mermaid Syrena (played by Astrid Berges-Frisbey), which for me was the replacement characters for Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann (Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley’s characters for the previous films). But unfortunately, where Turner and Swann had staying power for three films, not sure if we are going to see Philip or Syrena ever again.
While “On Stranger Tides” continues to be a fun, adventurous popcorn action film, I did enjoy seeing Penelope Cruz playing the character of Angelica Teach, a compassionate/cutthroat ex-lover of Jack Sparrow and Ian McShane as the legendary dark pirate Blackbeard was quite fun to watch as well. And seeing Barbosa, it was no surprise to see his return to the film as well.
But “On Stranger Tides” tries to showcase many other characters as well and truth be told, aside from Gibbs who has a place in the PotC films, everyone else didn’t. For example, in the first film, there was a sympathetic feeling towards Sparrow and his crew, but this time around, you really had no sympathy for anyone’s crew. If anything, you just wondered when will Jack Sparrow be back on his ship instead of being Indiana Jones/Blackbeard’s grunt. This is one side of Jack Sparrow that we have not seen in previous films and I’m not sure if I like him in such a non-commanding role.
But however one feels about “On Stranger Tides”, similar to films like “Transformers”, these are popcorn action films that people come to see and have a good time, not for anything deep or mind-blowing. You get action and a ton of special effects and in that sense, “On Stranger Tides” does not disappoint.
But when it comes to this Blu-ray release, one thing that does disappoint is the fact that we are getting far less than the five disc version when it comes to special features. Picture and lossless audio is fantastic but I was surprised to see only three special features including the audio commentary included with this release. But it appears that Disney really is pushing for the 3D 5-disc version which has nine special features over its 2-disc counterpart which has only three minus the second screen.
Overall, “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” is a fun film and from the crew fight on the Queen Anne’s Revenge, Jack Sparrow’s escape from British custody to the encounter with the mermaids, there are many fun action scenes in this film. But in terms of story, I still prefer the first original film, but there is no doubt that the visuals and overall production design is much improved in this latest film.
If you are a fan of the series and own the trilogy on Blu-ray, or you are just a big fan of the film or its talent, you’re definitely going to want this film in your collection. But if you are wanting the best version of this film released on Blu-ray, you may want to look into the 5-disc version over this 2-disc combo pack as Disney chose to include most of the bonus features on the 5-disc release.
“Platoon” is one of the best war films ever made. Based on writer/director Oliver Stone’s own Vietnam War experience and wanting to capture the authenticity of what he saw and experienced, “Platoon” will always be Stone’s masterpiece. If you enjoyed the film, it is highly recommended on Blu-ray!
Images courtesy of © 1986 Orion Pictures Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
FILM RELEASE DATE: 1986
DURATION: 120 minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (widescreen 1:85:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 4.0 Dolby Surround, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 DTS, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
COMPANY: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc./Twentieth Century Fox
RELEASE DATE: May 24 2011
Written and Directed by Oliver Stone
Produced by Arnold Kopelson
Executive Producer: John Daly, Derek Gibson
Co-Producer: A. Kitman Ho
Music by Georges Delerue
Cinematography by Robert Richardson
Edited by Claire Simpson
Casting by Pat Golden, Warren McLean, Bob Morones
Production Design by Bruno Rubeo
Art Direction by Rodell Cruz, Sherman Williams
Charlie Sheen as Chris
Tom Berenger as Sgt. Barnes
Willem Dafoe as Sgt. Elias
Keith David as King
Forest Whitaker as Big Harold
Francesco Quinn as Rhah
Kevin Dillon as Bunny
John C. McGinley as Sgt. O’Neill
Reggie Johnson as Junior
Mark Moses as Lt. Wolfe
Corey Glover as Francis
Johnny Depp as Lerner
Chris Pedersen as Crawford
Bob Orwig as Gardner
Corkey Ford as Manny
David Neidorf as Tex
Richard Edson as Sal
Tony Todd as Warren
Kevin Eshelman as Morehouse
Terry Mclivain as Ace
J. Adam Glover as Sanderson
Paul Sanchez as Doc
Dale Dye as Captain Harris
Peter Hicks as Parker
Basile Achara as Flash
PLATOON tells the extraordinary journey of Private Chris Taylor (Sheen), a young, naive American who arrives in Vietnam and quickly discovers he must battle the Viet Cong alongside the gnawing fear, physical exhaustion and intense anger growing within him. His two commanding officers (Oscar-nominated Tom Berenger and Willem Dafoe) draw a fine line between the war they wage against the enemy and the one they fight with each other. Meanwhile, the conflict, chaos and hatred permeate Taylor, suffocating his realities and numbing his feelings to man’s highest value: life.
For screenwriter and filmmaker, Oliver Stone, there is always a film that sparks intrigue among critics and audiences.
As a writer, Stone has had success with “Midnight Express” (1978), “Conan the Barbarian” (1982) and “Scarface” (1983) but as a filmmaker, Stone had not had a hit. In fact his film “Salvador” was a failure in 1986 and dejected with the failure of the film, he would have to work on “Platoon”, a Vietnam war film that had challenges, especially because of its low budget of $6.5 million.
But as an infantryman in Vietnam, Stone had wanted to create a film based on his experience but to counter John Wayne’s “The Green Berets” film from 1968 (which was created to counter the anti-war atmosphere and social discontent in the U.S.).
And because the film showcased the atrocities, the discontent with the soldiers and the confusion of what took place in the battlefield, it was well-received by film critics and audiences.
The low budget film would be a box office success earning over $138 million and would be nominated for eight Academy Awards and take home four Oscars for “Best Director”, “Best Film Editing”, “Best Picture” and “Best Sound”. In 2007, the film would be placed at #83 by the American Film Institute for “AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Movies” poll.
And now “Platoon” will reach its 25th year and to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the film, Twentieth Century Fox will be releasing a special 2-Disc Set on Blu-ray.
“Platoon” is a film that focuses on Chris Taylor (played by Charlie Sheen), a young college student who quit school to volunteer and fight in the war in 1967. But once he arrives to Vietnam, he starts to realize that it was a big mistake.
Upon arriving, dead bodies of Americans in body bags are lying on the ground and now being loaded into the plane he just arrived in. As a member of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment near the Cambodian border, the conditions are harsher than he had imagined.
The veteran soldiers look at him as weak, he is constantly being bitten by red ants and not exactly handling being in the jungle all that well. While making friends with various soldiers, he begins to respect Sergeant Elias (played by Willem Dafoe), a man who cares about his soldiers unlike Sergeant Barnes (played by Tom Berenger), who is more like a bully and is often at odds against Elias.
But with each day, he notices soldiers counting the days when they can go back home. For Chris, with regrets of being in Vietnam, each day he is constantly writing to his family of how much he hates being there and also begins the countdown to when he will go back because each day in the jungle, chances of being killed continue to rise.
In fact, friends he would make are killed and he begins to realize that for many of these soldiers who don’t want to be in Vietnam, the atrocities he sees from war, the killing and rape of innocent Vietnamese in villages start to weight down on him and he starts to find himself losing it.
And to make things worse, he starts to suspect a superior of killing the one true friend he had on the battlefield.
As the platoon continues to go back to the ambush areas, what will happen to the soldiers that are left and will Chris survive at all?
“Platoon” is presented in 1080p High Definition (Widescreen 1:85:1). At first, because of the older titles, I was thinking that this film was going to look aged, especially since this was a low budget film that was shot in the ’80s and I tend to be critical on the PQ of many ’80s films released on Blu.
As for “Platoon”, I was quite impressed by the look of the film and how clean the print was. Granted, it’s not going to come close to anything released in the last five years but for a 25-year-old film, “Platoon” looks very good on Blu-ray. The amount of detail and clarity especially the vibrant colors featured in the film were quite noticeable this time around watching it in HD versus on DVD. You can see the grime, sweat, blood and just overall detail of the jungle. Also, the blacks are nice and deep and there is a good amount of grain.
Robert Richardson (“Shutter Island”, “Inglorious Basterds”, “Kill Bill” films) did a fantastic job with the cinematography, from vignettes during sundown to capturing the fears of the soldiers eyes. Overall, PQ for “Platoon” is very good!
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Platoon” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 4.0 Dolby Surround, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital and French 5.1 DTS. There is no doubt that Georges Delerue’s (“The Man for All Seasons”, “Twins”, “The Day of the Jackal”) music is one of the most memorable themes in a movie. The music for “Platoon” captures ’60s music but also a score that I have always look forward to listening to each time I watch the film.
But with this lossless soundtrack, it is known that Oliver Stone really pushed the buttons for sound and would easily frustrate the sound crew because he wanted authenticity down to the insects and lizards (especially a gecko). But while ambiance for the film is rather strong, whenever you get to scenes of an ambush, where there is firing both ways especially during the final half hour of the film, there is really good panning of the audio but unfortunately, it’s not as much as I would have liked.
For the most part, dialogue is clear as with the sounds of ammunition being discharged and sounds of people running into the plants and so forth. Don’t expect too much though as it’s not the most immersive soundtrack that utilizes the surround channels or LFE but still, it’s a major upgrade compared to the original DVD release.
Subtitles are in English SDH, Spanish and French.
“Platoon” comes with the following special features:
- Audio Commentary by Director Oliver Stone – Director Oliver Stone talks about his own Vietnam War experiences, how Chris Taylor was loosely based on his experiences and more.
- Audio Commentary by Military Advisor Dale Dye – For this commentary, retired US Marine Capt. Dale Dye gives is in-depth information of the conflict in Vietnam and really impressive details of the war.
- Deleted and Extended Scenes with Optional Commentary by Olive Stone – (11:31) A total of eleven scenes with Oliver Stone explaining why he cut them, why he regrets cutting some of them and some he just found really lame.
- Flashback to Platoon: Snapshot in Time: 1967-1968 – (19:15) Interviews with Oliver Stone and other veterans and historians about the Vietnam War and how America lost the war.
- Creating the Nam – (12:04) A featurette on how Oliver Stone wanted authenticity and the pains that it took to create that authenticity in the Philippines, especially with a low budget and how much stress it put on the cast and crew.
- Raw Wounds: The Legacy of Platoon – (17:19) A featurette on how successful the film was and how veterans reacted to the film.
- One War, Many Stories Documentary – (25:32) Oliver Stone and Vietnam War veterans talk about their experiences and how it was similar or different from what was shown in “Platoon”.
- Preparing for ‘Nam – (6:36) A featurette about those who signed up for the military and went to boot camp before the Vietnam War.
- Caputo & The 7th Fleet Vignette – (1:38) Phillip Caputo talks about leaving Saigon in a helicopter and many anti-aircraft were being shot at them.
- Dye Training Method Vignette - (3:23) Captain Dale dye talks about training the actors to be a soldier in the film.
- Gordon Gekko Vignette - (1:06) A story from the editor of how the name Gordon Gekko came up.
- TV Spots – Three TV spots (Action, Critical Acclaim and The Director).
- Theatrical Trailer – (1:44) The original theatrical trailer for “Platoon”
“Platoon” comes with 2-Discs, one is the Blu-ray and the other is a DVD version of the film presented in widescreen (1:85:1). The DVD is presented in English 5.1 Dolby Digital and Spanish Dolby Surround and subtitles are in Spanish and French. Also, the Blu-ray release comes with a slip cover.
I had the opportunity to watch “Platoon” in the theater several times and since its release back in 1986, I have watched this film many times on video and on cable and what I love about the film is that it doesn’t glorify war or patriotism, it was an honest portrayal of war and the fears that took place among the soldiers.
Many of us grew up reading or hearing that the Vietnam War was an unpopular war which we lost politically but yet during the early ’80s, the films that were shown about the Vietnam War were Chuck Norris “Missing in Action” films or Sylvester Stallone’s “Rambo” and nothing that covered the truths about what happened during the war.
So, two films during the mid-’80s would showcase those fears experienced by soldiers and less about American machismo…”Platoon” (1986) and “Full Metal Jacket” (1987). Interesting enough, while these two anti-war films would capture the attention of the fears of soldiers fighting in the Vietnam War, “Top Gun” (also from 1986) would inspire many people to join the military. As films would showcase the fears of World War III as tension between Americans and Russians still existed, suffice to say, films such as “Platoon” and “Full Metal Jacket” were war films that would ask Americans, “What are we fighting for?”.
As mentioned, Stone’s film was a counter to John Wayne’s “The Green Berets” but there was no sugarcoating America’s involvement in the Vietnam War, no focus on heroics but pretty much the feeling that young men were being sent in on a suicide mission. and as constantly mentioned in the film, many wondered why they were sent there and what are they fighting for and all one can answer to those questions… “It’s all politics!”.
Also, it’s important to note that “Platoon” is the first film of Oliver Stone’s Vietnam Trilogy which was followed by “Born on the Fourth of July” (1989) and “Heaven & Earth” (1993).
And this leads me to the 25th Anniversary Blu-ray release of “Platoon”, there are featurettes that really further explain what happened during the Vietnam War and most importantly, why it was unpopular and how we lost. I’ve read books and tried to understand the war back then and to tell you the truth, I couldn’t grasp it. Especially having the mindset of the United States being so strong and powerful, how can we lose?
And fortunately, there are featurettes in this film, especially “Flashback to Platoon: Snapshot of Time: 1967-1968″ that really explains to the viewer of what happened. And there are so many other featurettes included in this Blu-ray release that while many may have seen these in previous DVD releases, it’s great to have these special features once again for the Blu-ray release.
And in 2011, while we hear so much about an older Charlie Sheen and his “Tiger’s Blood”, back in 1986, his performance as Chris Taylor, the soldier who is struggling to understand the war and knowing his mistake of volunteering was done very well. You can sense Taylor’s fear and watch him slowly as he loses it but at the same time, trying to bring a moralistic attitude towards other soldiers when they start wanting to obliterate and destroy everything they see in Vietnam, even if the villagers are innocent.
“Platoon” also has many visual moments (the shot of Sgt. Elias trying to get back to the helicopters is one of my favorite scenes in cinematic history) and one thing I was surprised to see that back during the Vietnam War, there were certain live video feeds that people had the opportunity to see of Americans wounded in battle, bloodied or losing body parts or dead, it made the war real. You can tell that Oliver Stone wanted to bring that realism to the viewer but to also show how many people were killed. Many people that you start to care for or root for, you realize that these individuals have no chance.
And those who survive, knowing what we do now, many of the survivors would have a hard time when they arrived back in the U.S. No hero’s welcome! For some, it was deep depression, health problems due to Agent Orange or Post-Traumatic Stress and if anything, show us that war sucks!
“Platoon” for me is a classic war film. A film that tries not to be anything sugarcoated but to really show how moral was for soldiers back then. Oliver Stone experienced this and he saw others experience this sense of confusion and not knowing if they are going to live or die each day. They just hope they can make it long enough to get back home.
For me, that was enjoyable and in 2011, what is even more enjoyable is to see the number of talent who starred in this film and made a great career for themselves afterward. Aside from Oliver Stone who would go on to make “JFK”, “Any Given Sunday”, “Nixon” and “Natural Born Killers”, the film would feature talent such as Keith David (“Death at a Funeral”, “Crash”), Forest Whitaker (“The Last King of Scotland”, “Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai”), Kevin Dillon (“Entourage”, “The Doors”), John C. McGinley (“Scrubs”, “Se7en”, “The Rock), Johnny Depp (“Edward Scissorhands”, “Sweney Todd”, “Pirates of the Caribbean”), Tom Berenger (“Inception”, “The Big Chill”, “Training Day”), Willem Dafoe (“Spider-Man”, “The Boondock Saints”, “Antichrist”) and Charlie Sheen (“Two and a Half Men”), “Wall Street”, “Major League”).
So, there are many components to the film that you can’t help but be impressed by. Well-directed, well-written, well-performed and to think that this film was a low-budget film made for only $6.5 million and would make over $138 million. It’s a testament to the film’s efficacy and how it struck a chord for many viewers and to this day, many continue to rewatch this film over and over because it’s a wonderful film.
If you are a fan of “Platoon”, owned various video versions of this film or even if you haven’t watched it before, this 25th anniversary Blu-ray release is worth buying, worth owning and worth having in your Blu-ray collection. Highly recommended!
“Benny & Joon” is a romantic comedy that remains honest, fun and enjoyable after all these years. Johnny Depp’s performance as the Buster Keaton loving Sam is fantastic! If you have never watched this film before, definitely give this Blu-ray release a chance!
Images courtesy of © 1993 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: Benny & Joon
FILM RELEASE DATE: 1993
DURATION: 98 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Widescreen (1:85:1), English 2.0 Surround DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish Mono, French Dolby Surround
COMPANY: MGM/Twentieth Century Fox
RATED: PG (Theme, a Scene of Mild Sensuality and line use of Harsh Language)
RELEASE DATE: April 5, 2011
Directed by Jeremiah S. Chechik
Story by Barry Berman and Lesley McNeil
Screenpay by Barry Berman
Produced by Susan Arnold, Donna Roth
Executive Producer: Bill Badalato
Associate Producer: Lesley McNeil
Music by Rachel Portman
Cinematography by John Schwartzman
Edited by Carol Littleton
Casting by Risa Bramon Garcia, Heidi Levitt
Production Design by Neil Spisak
Art Direction by Pat Tagliaferro
Set Decoration by Barbara Munch
Costume Design by Aggie Guerard Rodgers
Johnny Depp as Sam
Mary Stuart Masterson as Juniper “Joon” Pearl
Aidan Quinn as Benjamin “Benny” Pearl
Julianne Moore as Ruthie
Oliver Platt as Eric
CCH Pounder as Dr. Garvey
Dan Hedaya as Thomas
Joe Grifasi as mike
William H. Macy as Randy Burch
Liane Curtis as Claudia
Oscar Nominee Johnny Depp, Mary Stuart Masterson (TV’s Law & Order SVU) and Aidan Quinn (Practical Magic) star in this hilarious, quirk comedy. Wildly eccentric Joon (Masterson) can be very charming – especially when she takes her medicine. Long under the thumb of her overprotective brother, Benny (Quinn), Joon craves her independence. During an unusual poker game, Joon loses her hand – but wins Sam (Depp), a whimsical misfit who soon charms his way into her heart. Now if they can only find a romantic interest for her brother, love just might stand a chance in the charming, delightful film that also features Oliver Platt (“Frost/Nixon”) and Academy Award Nominee Julianne Moore.
In 1993, the romantic comedy “Benny & Joon” became a hit for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The film would showcase the physical comedy of Johnny Depp (fresh from his hit film “Edward Scissorhands”) and its theme song “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles” by the Proclaimers.
And while there was a little backstage drama behind-the-scenes as Winona Ryder who just broke up with Depp was supposed to play “Joon” and Woody Harrelson was to play the role of “Benny”. The roles were re-cast and Aidan Quinn would be playing “Benny” and Mary Stuart Masterson as “Joon”.
The film would also feature talent who would eventually become popular stars years later with William H. Macy as Randy, Oliver Platt as Eric and Julianne Moore as Ruthie.
Directed by Jeremiah S. Chechik (“Burn Notice”, “Gossip Girl”, “The Avengers”, “Chuck”) and a screenplay by Barry Berman (“Waterproof”, “The Adventures of Pinocchio”), “Benny & Joon” would earn $23 million and also earn Johnny Depp a Golden Globe Award nomination.
“Benny & Joon” revolves around a mechanic named Benjamin “Benny” Pearl (played by Aidan Quinn) who takes care of his mentally ill sister, Juniper “Joon” Pearl (played by Mary Stuart Masterson).
Joon is an intelligent young woman, an avid painter but unfortunately has problems handling her anger and also is used to a certain rhythm of daily routines. While Benny is busy at his auto shop and managing his workers, he has been dealing with various housekeepers who seem to quit their job as they are unable to deal with Joon’s outbursts.
Her doctor, Dr. Garvey (played by CCH Pounder) recommends that Benny put Joon in a group home because no housekeeper is willing to work there at his home and he is unable to manage her. And Benny doesn’t want to because he is all she has. We see a flashback of Benny and Joon when they were younger and they witnessed their parents being killed in a car accident and he has made sure that he has given his life and even his happiness to take care of his sister. But one day, her anger is taken out on Benny that he realizes, maybe the doctor is right, he can’t take care of her.
In fact, even his good friend Eric (played by Oliver Platt) sees how Benny has turned down women for dates because he’s stuck caring for sister and tries to convince him to put Joon in a group home. But Benny is not sure what he wants to do.
One night, as Benny & Joon visit a few friends for a night of gambling, his friend Mike (played by Joe Grifasi) has told him about a friend’s nephew who has moved in with him and he can’t stand him. The nephew is named Sam, a cinemaphile who is a big Buster Keaton fan (to the point that he dresses like the silent film actor and behaves like him) and we also learn that he is illiterate and is trying to learn how to read and write.
During another night of gambling, Joon wants to play and bet against Mike (without Benny being there) and Joon bets for whoever wins will paint her house and Mike bets that if he wins, she must take in his roommate Sam (played by Johnny Depp), that he can’t stand. Sure enough, Mike wins and now Benny & Joon must take in Sam.
Eventually Sam and Joon start to know each other. Despite an outburst from Joon one day, after Sam tries to clean the whole kitchen, he comes back by giving her a jack-in-a-box. Eventually, this surprises Joon as this guy is not bothered by her and if anything, he sees her as normal. She helps Sam with his writing and Sam cooks ham and cheese sandwiches for the family (via a clothes iron) and as odd as he may be, Benny can see how happy Joon is.
And needless to say, both Sam and Joon want to make Benny happy, so the two hook Benny and a woman named Ruthie (played by Julianne Moore) together. Ruthie is currently a waitress and apartment manager but also was a former actress that is recognized by Sam and the two become friends as Sam has recognized every dialogue from a slasher film she appeared in.
And while Benny and Susie become attracted to each other, Benny has a hard time dealing with his emotions as he doesn’t know how to get close to her because of his duties of caring for Joon. Meanwhile, Sam & Joon are becoming closer and closer and eventually they fall in love.
Now that Joon has found happiness, will Benny end her happiness by putting her in a group home?
“Benny & Joon” is presented in 1080p High Definition (widescreen 1:85:1). As part of the catalog titles that are being released by MGM/20th Century Fox, I can say that this film does look better than its DVD counterpart but at the same time, does feature dust and speckles from time to time. For the most part, the film does look very good. The outdoor scenes are vibrant, the darker outdoor scenes or vignette type scenes have really good inky blacks.
And while colors are vibrant and there is good contrast for this film on Blu-ray, I do believe a lot of these catalog titles which include “Benny & Joon” are most likely sourced from an old HD master which was originally used for the DVD release. But it does look better than its DVD counterpart and that is a plus.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Benny & Joon” is presented in English 2.0 Surround DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish Mono and French Dolby Surround. Dialogue is clear and understandable and the music, including the Proclaimers “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” comes clear through the front channels. But it’s a decent lossless soundtrack that is appropriate for this film.
Subtitles are in English SDH, Spanish and French.
“Benny & Joon” comes with the following special features:
Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by director Jeremiah Chechik. Chechik talks about the timelessness of the film and not so much of the technical parts of the film. We learn how the photo of a young Aidan Quinn and Masterson was created, how the film was shot on location and more.
Deleted Scenes – (5:12) Featuring two deleted scenes: audition and mutilator.
- Costume, Make-Up Test and Stunt Reel - (18:45)Featuring various costume and make-up tests with the talent and a commentary track.
- Music Video – (3:40) Featuring the music video “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by The Proclaimers.
- Theatrical Trailer - (2:01) Featuring the original theatrical trailer to “Benny & Joon”.
It has been nearly 20-years since I have watched “Benny & Joon”, a romantic comedy that was pretty cool for it’s time because it didn’t have the typical displays of banality of a romantic comedy. And the fact that you have a female character who is mentally ill and a young man who probably lived his life watching movies and literally transformed himself to be a hybrid Buster Keaton/Charlie Chaplin type of actor. And then you throw in the older brother who has not been able to live his life because he had to care for his younger sister.
“Benny & Joon” was a film that felt natural and when I first watched it, I found it intriguing, enjoyable and hilarious. I also credit the film for introducing me Buster Keaton and eventually making me become a silent film fan at a younger age. But “Benny & Joon” is a film that is timeless. Nearly 20-years-later and sure, the talents are much older but the film doesn’t look like it has aged. The storyline remains fun, relevant, enjoyable and I have not grown tired of it yet.
I felt that the younger Johnny Depp showed an amazing brilliance of what kind of actor he would later become in this film. The physical comedy and capturing that Keaton/Chaplin-esque style was fantastic and the same can be said with the brother and sister chemistry between Aidan Quinn and Mary Stuart Masterson.
As for the Blu-ray release, there is nothing new added to this Blu-ray release and as mentioned, I wouldn’t be surprised if the HD master was what was prepped for the DVD release. Fortunately, PQ is good and I didn’t find any artifacting and for the most part, if you loved the film on DVD, it’s worth upgrading to Blu-ray.
Overall, “Benny & Joon” is a romantic comedy that remains honest, fun and enjoyable after all these years.
While I enjoyed the film a lot back then and even now, I do wish the Blu-ray release had a better HD transfer and newer special features but if you really enjoyed “Benny & Joon” and have not owned it on DVD or LD prior, then definitely give this Blu-ray release a chance!
“The Tourist” is visually stunning and Venice, Italy has not looked this great since David Lean’s 1955 film “Summer Time”. And the film looks magnificent on Blu-ray! If you are looking for a fun, popcorn action thriller, definitely give “The Tourist” a try!
Images courtesy of © 2010 GK Films, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: The Tourist: Blu-ray and DVD Combo Pack
FILM RELEASE DATE: 2010
DURATION: 103 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1), English and French 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English – Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, English, French and Spanish
COMPANY: Spyglass Entertainment/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
RATED: PG-13 (For Violence and Brief Strong Language)
RELEASE DATE: March 22, 2011
Directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Screenplay by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, Christopher McQuarrie, Julian Fellowes
Based on the motion picture “Anthony Zimmer” by Jerome Salle
Producer: Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum, Jonathan Glickman, Tim Headington, Graham King
Executive Producer: Ron Halpern, Lloyd Phillips
Line Producer: David Nichols
Co-Producer: Denis O’Sullivan
Music by James Newton Howard
Cinematography by John Seale
Edited by Joe Hutshing, Patricia Rommel
Casting by Susie Figgis
Production Design by Jon Hutman
Art Direction by Susanna Codognato, Marco Trentini
Set Decoration by Anna Pinnock
Costume Design by Colleen Atwood
Johnny Depp as Frank Tupelo
Angelina Jolie as Elise Clifton-Ward
Paul Bettany as Inspector John Acheson
Timothy Dalton as Chief Inspector Jones
Steven Berkoff as Reginald Shaw
Rufus Sewell as The Englishman
Christian De Sica as Colonnello Lombardi
Alessio Boni as Sergente Cerato
Daniele Pecci as Tenente Narduzzi
Giovanni Guidelli as Tenente Tommassini
Raoul Bova as Conte Filippo Gaggia
Bruno Wolkowitch as Capitaine Courson
Igor Jijikine as Virginsky
Vladimir Orlov as Lebyadkin
Vladimir Tevlovski as Liputin
Alec Utgoff as Fedka
Frank (Johnny Depp), a mild-mannered American on vacation in Venice, Italy, is befriended by Elise (Angelina Jolie), a breathtakingly beautiful woman with a mysterious secret. Soon, their playful romantic dalliance turns into a complicated web of dangerous deceit as they are chased by Interpol, the Italian police, and Russian hit men in this suspense-filled, international action thriller.
Have you ever watched a film that made you want to travel to that country because it looks so beautiful onscreen? That is how I felt while watching “The Tourist”. Venice, Italy in a movie has never looked so beautiful until I watched this film and how glamorous and breathtaking this film makes you want to be there.
“The Tourist”, an action thriller which was nominated for three Golden Globes (as a comedy) was written and directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, well-known for his 2006 critically acclaimed film “The Lives of Others”.
The German filmmaker along with writers Christopher McQuarrie (“The Usual Suspects”, “Valkyrie”, “The Way of the Gun”) and Julian Fellowes (“Gosford Park”, “Tomorrow Never Dies”, “Shadowlands”) would create an engaging thriller starring Johnny Depp (“Edward Scissorhands”, “Alice in Wonderland”, “Pirates of the Caribbean” films), Angelina Jolie (“Salt”, “Mr. & Mrs. Smith”, “Wanted”) and Paul Bettany (“Master and commander: The Far Side of the World”, “Abeautiful Mind”, “Iron Man”, “The Da Vinci Code”).
While the film met with negative reviews from film critics, the public turned out to support the film as the $100 million film earned over $258 million in the box office worldwide and now “The Tourist” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD in March 2011.
The film begins with a woman named Elise Clifton-Ward (played by Angelina Jolie) being trailed in Paris by the French police working together with Scotland Yard (UK police) who are hot on the trail of a criminal named Alexander Pearce, Elise’s boyfriend.
She secretly receives a letter from a courier which tells her to depart to Venice, Italy by train and to find a man with the same height and build, in order to throw the police off and finally, to burn the letter. Meanwhile, we are shown a mystery man also watching Elise.
The police try to get the letter but Elise has burned it. As they try to follow her, she times it perfectly with the oncoming rush of workers and easily escapes from them.
Elise makes it to the train which is en route from Paris to Italy and as she walks to find a man with the same build as Alexander Pearce, she spots a man sitting alone. His name is Frank Tupelo (played by Johnny Depp) who is a school teacher from Wisconsin, reading a spy novel and smoking an electronic cigarette.
Frank is allured by Elise’s style as she doesn’t get into conversations but tells him that if he enjoys spy novels, to imagine why she’s on the train off to Italy and asks Frank to give her a scenario. Frank does just as she asks but then she requests for Frank to ask her out to dinner, but not in a form of question. Frank finds this mysterious woman so alluring and strong that he enjoys his time sitting with her and now about to have dinner with her.
As the two eat, Frank seems to feel that two men are watching them (which they are and the police take a picture of Frank to send to Scotland Yard). Back at Scotland Yard, Inspector John Acheson (played by Paul Bettany) tries to figure out if Frank is Alexander Pearce and contacts Interpol to await the arrival of Frank, who may be Alexander Pearce. As for John, he is under intense pressure to finish this case which has been costing them a lot of money and his boss, Chief Inspector Jones (played by Timothy Dalton) wants him to finish this investigation soon.
Meanwhile, at Scotland Yard, as an employee is researching Frank Tupelo, a person inside the division secretly contacts a gangster named Reginald Shaw (played by Steven Berkoff) that both Elise and Frank (who he believe is Alexander Pearce) are arriving in Italy and for Shaw, he wants Alexander badly because Pearce stole two billion dollars from him.
Elise takes Frank to a beautiful hotel right near the canal and together, they have dinner together. Frank learns that Elise is a woman that is very much in love with her dear Alexander but the two have not seen each other in two years and have been communicating via letters. As the two arrive back home, when Elise opens the balcony, she sees a man watching their hotel room and realizes that she must do what Alexander has said and make the authorities think Frank is Alexander. So, when Alexander comes to join her on the balcony, she kisses him.
The man takes a photo of the two kissing and sends it to the police, meanwhile at a distance, watching them kiss are Shaw’s men.
The kiss literally makes Frank want even more. As she goes to sleep, part of Frank wants to join her but he decides not to. When he wakes up the following morning, room service has arrived and Frank is surprised that Elise has left and ordered for him. When he goes to check her room, she is not there. Meanwhile, Shaw’s men break into the hotel room and when Frank sees the gun, he runs into the bathroom and locks the door and escapes from the back window. Running from roof tops to avoid the men with guns and shooting at him, he tries to escape. Why are these men after him?
Frank manages to escape but is detained by Italian authorities. Frank tells the investigator his story but it seems a bit far-fetched that a man meets a beautiful woman, she takes him to her hotel room and men start shooting after him. It doesn’t make sense, especially since he’s just a teacher from America. But as the investigator locks him up for the night to look into his story, he finds out that there is a bounty on Frank’s head.
The investigator sneaks Frank out of the jail and tells him that there is a bounty on his head because there are people who think he is Alexander Pearce. A wanted man!
The investigator tells Frank he needs to get him out too safety and drives him by boat to a mystery area…but waiting for the investigator are Shaw’s men who have paid the investigator to deliver the man they think is Alexander Pearce. Shocked and confused, Frank doesn’t know what to do… until a boat pulls up right next to his, driven by Elise who comes to save him.
What will happen to Frank… the Tourist?
“The Tourist” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1). There is nothing but positive I can say about the cinematography and overall look of “The Tourist”. Glamorous and breathtaking, director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck has really shown us the beauty of Venice, Italy through this film. It was a big deal with David Lean’s “Summer Time” when we saw the beauty of Venice onscreen but with the wide shots courtesy of James Newton Howard (“The Sixth Sense”, “Unbreakable”, “The Fugitive”) the look and feel of Venice’s beauty and the decrepit buildings also show its age, as well as scenes showcasing its darkness.
The Blu-ray release of “The Tourist” showcases the detail of the Italian locations and facial textures, skin pores, hair, clothing textures, you name it…the Blu-ray releases shows off it’s clear details with efficacy and as expected, the day scenes are vibrant, the night time scenes are spot on with its inky blacks.
The picture quality for “The Tourist” achieves perfection!
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“The Tourist” is presented in English and French5.1 DTS-HD MA and English – Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital. Similar to the excellent picture quality, “The Tourist” sounds great via its lossless soundtrack. Because the film has its fair share of action, from the jet engines of the boats during its chase scene, the sound of guns shooting, broken glass to radio chatter, the presentation is crystal clear. But it’s important to note that this film does not have an immersive lossless soundtrack.
I will say that “The Tourist” is more of a front and center-channel driven soundtrack, there is use of the surround channels but it is not as immersive as one would hope and I don’t recall hearing the LFE used as much throughout the film as well. But considering the film focuses more on dialogue and character development than continuing action, the lossless soundtrack is adequate for this film. So, it’s not exactly a soundtrack that will win over audiophiles but the lossless soundtrack works for this film.
Subtitles are presented in English, English SDH and Spanish.
“The Tourist” comes with the following special features in standard and high definition (audio in stereo, subtitles in English):
- Audio Commentary – Director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck goes into great detail of the style he wanted to accomplish for the film, working with the cast members and the technical details for the film. Especially differences that were made for the chase scene and more.
- Canal Chats – (8:01) A featurette with the director and cast while driving through the canal in Venice talking about the film and their character.
- A Gala Affair – (7:12) Director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck wanted a glamorous ball and we get to see how the set design was made for this film, including the location of where this ball was shot in.
- Action in Venice – (8:28) A featurette on the boat chase and the type of shots used for this scene. Also, how director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck wanted this scene to be different than other chase scenes for other films.
- Bringing Glamor Back – (9:08) Director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck wanted glamor and elegance for the film. Also, the locations of where “The Tourist” was shot in Venice.
- Tourist Destination: Travel the Canals of Venice - (3:12) The director, producers and cast talk about the beauty of Venice and shooting in the canals.
- Alternate Animated Title Sequence – (2:14) An alternate title sequence created for the film.
- Outtake Reel - (1:26) Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie and Paul Bettany talk about how they kept cracking up throughout the shooting of this film and footage of them laughing and joking around on set.
“The Tourist” did not receive the best reviews from film critics and when it received three Golden Globe nominations for best comedy film and comedy roles for both Depp and Jolie, it even furthered the flame for those who disliked the film. But while critics disliked it, moviegoers came out to see this film starring two of America’s big-draw talents, Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie.
Johnny Depp’s role was to play a writer Frank, who is trying to get by with life and enjoy traveling through Europe. Not an assertive man but because he found a woman, so strong and not down-to-Earth, needless to say, he is automatically smitten by her and starts to care for her deeply.
Meanwhile, Angelina Jolie plays the girlfriend of the criminal that everyone is going after. Far different from her character role in “Salt”, Jolie’s Elise is a mystery, but Jolie knows how to bring sexual attraction and seduction to the big screen, as masterful as Depp who is able to fill in any characters shoes and do it with so much efficacy.
Some reviewers felt the two didn’t have the right chemistry onscreen but I don’t blame the chemistry, without spoiling too much of the story, as we learn about Elise’s past, you would tend to expect more action on her part. As for Depp’s Frank, I’m not sure anyone would expect a school teacher to become an action star, so in some way, pacing seems a bit off and you feel that there are a bit of holes in the screenplay.
What the filmmakers did do right is include a third character that would catch the audience’s attention and that third character is the city of Venice itself. When showcasing Venice, its canals, the hotel, the ballroom, director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck was able to showcase the beauty of the city and it shows on film, so much emphasis was given to achieving glamor and elegance, as much as I enjoyed watching it onscreen, it does take away from any action-driven plot that the film could accomplish.
But considering the challenges that this film had gone through since it was first created, the film originally had Lasse Hallstrom and Charlize Theron, then later Bharat Nalluri, Tom Cruise and then Sam Worthington. The director was in it, then left and then returned to re-write it and next thing you know, while shot in 58 days, the film was shot quickly because Depp was only available for a short time as he had to film the fourth upcoming “Pirates of the Caribbean” film. Also, making things limited for its action scenes are the rules that the film crew had to abide in Venice. And because they were strict on how fast the boats can go during the chase scene, once again, the film crew had to make some compromises.
Needless to say, with a quick rewrite, quick shooting schedule and many challenges to begin with, director Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck literally had to pull a rabbit out of his had and deliver.
And while the film is not action-packed as one hoped it would be, I do feel that the film did manage to capture the elegance and glamor of the city and while cinematography can’t be a film’s sole savior in entertaining viewers, for me, the overall style of the film was quite captivating.
The Blu-ray release of “The Tourist” does capture that beauty and there is no doubt about it, the picture quality of “The Tourist” is magnificent and the special features were also fun to watch (focusing heavily on the beauty and darkness of Venice, Italy).
Overall, I did enjoy “The Tourist” and by no means did I feel bored by it. It may have its share of plot holes but I feel that Depp and Jolie were quite enjoyable onscreen and while others may find their pairing to be bland, I didn’t feel that way at all. I felt there was a good balance of being an action thriller/comedy but had its own limitations through pacing issues but by no means did I feel this film was terrible.
One thing you will notice is that those who do enjoy the film always comment on the visuals of the film and the beauty and glamor of Venice, Italy and I do believe that because Director Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck wanted to showcase the city the way he did for this film, it was the primary factor in enhancing one’s enjoyment for this film. Shot anywhere else and I don’t think this film could have achieved the same result.
If you are looking for a popcorn action thriller on Blu-ray, definitely give “The Tourist” a chance.
Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie Star in the
$205 Million Worldwide Box Office Hit
Extensive Bonus Materials Include Behind-the-Scenes Featurettes,
Outtake Reel and Director’s Commentary
Debuting on Blu-ray™, Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack and DVD March 22
CULVER CITY, CALIF. (January 31, 2011) – Two of Hollywood’s hottest properties, three-time Academy Award® nominee Johnny Depp (Best Actor, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, 2003; Finding Neverland, 2004; Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, 2007) and Academy Award® winner Angelina Jolie (Best Supporting Actress, Girl Interrupted, 1999), star in the sexy action-adventure caper The Tourist, debuting on Blu-ray™, Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack and DVD March 22nd from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. A mysterious woman (Jolie) and a mild mannered American (Depp) become involved in an international web of intrigue, romance and danger in the spectacular city of Venice, Italy. From Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck, the director of the Academy Award® winning film The Lives of Others (Best Foreign Language Film, 2006), the film also stars Paul Bettany (The Da Vinci Code, The Young Victoria), Timothy Dalton (The Living Daylights, License to Kill), Steven Berkoff (A Clockwork Orange), and Rufus Sewell (The Holiday).
The DVD and Blu-ray are loaded with bonus materials, including an outtake reel, director’s commentary and two featurettes: “A Gala Affair” and “Bringing Glamour Back.” Blu-ray exclusive materials include three additional behind-the-scenes featurettes: “Action in Venice,” “Canal Chats,” and “Tourist Destination Travel the Canals of Venice.” The Tourist will be available in the Combo Pack for $38.96 SRP, on Blu-ray™ for $34.95 SRP and on DVD for $28.95 SRP.
During an impromptu trip to Europe to mend a broken heart, Frank (Johnny Depp) unexpectedly finds himself in a flirtatious encounter with Elise (Angelina Jolie), an extraordinary woman who deliberately crosses his path. Against the breathtaking backdrop of Paris and Venice, their whirlwind romance quickly evolves as they find themselves unwittingly thrust into a deadly game of cat and mouse.
Directed by Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck from a screenplay by Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck, Christopher McQuarrie, and Julian Fellowes. Graham King, Tim Headington, Roger Birnbaum, Gary Barber, and Jonathan Glickman produced, with Lloyd Phillips, Bahman Naraghi, Olivier Courson, and Ron Halpern acting as executive producers.
DVD and Blu-ray Bonus Features Include:
§ Featurette: “A Gala Affair”
§ Featurette: “Bringing Glamour Back”
§ Alternate Animated Title Sequence
§ Director Commentary
§ Outtake Reel
Blu-ray Exclusive Bonus Features Include:
§ Featurette: “Action in Venice”
§ Featurette: “Canal Chats”
§ Featurette: “Tourist Destination Travel the Canals of Venice”
The Tourist has a runtime of approximately 103 minutes and is rated PG 13 for violence and brief strong language.
The final film of the “El Mariachi” trilogy. “Once Upon a Time in Mexico” is a film that delivers in action, guns, explosions…you name it. And to hear this film on Blu-ray is fantastic. But compared to the other two films (“El Mariachi” and “Desperado”), the film delivers as a popcorn action-flick but the focus of the film is not all about El Mariachi. Otherwise, an essential film to own if you have enjoyed the trilogy and worthy of upgrading to Blu-ray, if you own the original DVD.
© 2003 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: Once Upon a Time in Mexico
FILM RELEASE DATE: 2003
DURATION: 102 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), English, French, Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, French, Portuguese and Spanish
COMPANY: Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
RATED: R (For Strong Violence and for Language)
Release Date: January 4, 2011
Written and Directed by Robert Rodriguez
Produced by Elizabeth Avellan, Carlos Gallardo, Robert Rodriguez
Co-Producer: Sue Jett, Tony Mark, Luz Maria Rojas
Music by Robert Rodriguez
Cinematography by Robert Rodriguez
Edited by Robert Rodriguez
Casting by Mary Vernieu
Production Design by Robert Rodriguez
Art Direction by Melo Hinojosa
Set Decoration by Eva Castro, Patrice Laure
Costume Design by Graciela Mazon
Antonio Banderas as El Mariachi
Salma Hayek as Carolina
Johnny Depp as Sands
Mickey Rourke as Billy
Eva Mendes as Ajedrez
Danny Trejo as Cucuy
Enrique Iglesias as Lorenzo
Marco Leonardi as Fideo
Cheech Marin as Belini
Ruben Blades as Jorge FBI
Willem Dafoe as Barillo
Gerardo Vigil as Marquez
Pedro Armendariz Jr. as Advisor
Leaping back into action, gun-slinging, guitar-toting hero “El Mariachi” is back in town in ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO, as director Robert Rodriguez delivers the epic final chapter of his pulp Western trilogy. Starring Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Johnny Depp, Mickey Rourke, Eva Mendes, Enrique Iglesias and Willem Dafoe ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO is a full-frontal assault.
In 1993, filmmaker Robert Rodriguez debuted with his Spanish independent film “El Mariachi” created for $7,000.
Although the film did not make a huge earning in the box office, the film went on to make $1.5 million in video sales and for Robert Rodriguez, his dreams of becoming a filmmaker came true as he went on to make two TV movies in 1994 and the sequel to “El Mariachi” titled “Desperado” which would cost $7,000,000 and became a box office hit.
Since “El Mariachi”, Robert Rodriguez has inspired filmmakers who have dreamed of getting a shot in Hollywood and his story of his adventures in making “El Mariachi” was written in his book “Rebel Without a Crew” and he has become a hero among upcoming filmmakers who have been inspired by his story of doing all it takes to get your film noticed and eventually making your dream come true of becoming a successful filmmaker.
From the first two films of the “Mariachi Trilogy”, Rodriguez went on to create the “Spy Kids” trilogy and direct films such as “The Faculty” and “From Dusk Till Dawn”. But the film that helped him get established needed its final conclusion for the trilogy and by 2003, he would go on to create “Once Upon a Time in Mexico”. The trilogy would feature an all-star cast with Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Johnny Depp, Mickey Rourke, Eva Mendes, Danny Trejo, Enrique Iglesias, Cheech Marin, Ruben Blades, Willem Dafoe, Marc Leonardi and more!
It was the most expensive film in the trilogy with a budget of $29 million but earned its money and more with over $98 million in the box office.
With successful sales on VHS, LD and on DVD of the first two films, the trilogy will now be released on Blu-ray in January 2011 (“El Mariachi/Desperado” as a dual feature and “Once Upon a Time in Mexico” as a standalone).
“Once Upon a Time in Mexico” features El Mariachi (played by Antonio Banderas). El lives in a small Mexican town where people make their living building guitars. But one day, Cucuy (played by Danny Trejo) shows up with his men and start questioning some of the guitarmakers of the whereabouts of El Mariachi. Because they are protecting him, one is killed. To prevent further bloodshed, El gives himself up to Cucuy and his men.
El is taken to meet with CIA agent Sheldon Sands (played by Johnny Depp). El is hired to kill General Emiliano Marquez (played by Gerardo Vigil), a leader of a guerrilla force who has been hired by Mexican drug lord Armando Barillo (played by Willem Dafoe) to assassinate the President of Mexico (played by Pedro Armendariz Jr.) and overthrow the Mexican government who is clamping down on drug dealers.
For El, this is what he has been waiting for as we see his history and we learn that he and Carolina (played by Salma Hayek) fought against corruptness together (after the events of “Desperado”) and in a shootout, ended up wounding General Marquez. A few years later, El and Carolina are happily married with a young daughter but one day, in retaliation for getting shot by El/Carolina, the General killed Carolina and his daughter in cold blood and even left El for dead.
So, El wants revenge against General Marquez and knows he will need to bring some friends, Mariachi and weapons experts Lorenzo (played by Enrique Iglesias) and Fideo (played by Marco Leonardi).
Meanwhile, Sheldon Sands shows a sign that he is a corrupt CIA agent and uses his plan to bring FBI Agent Jorge Ramirez (played by Ruben Blades) out of retirement to exact his revenge against the Mexican drug lord Barillo who murdered his partner. Also, Sheldo is working with AFN operative Ajedrez (played by Eva Mendes) to follow Barillow.
Throughout the film, we see allegiances shift between characters who are dedicated to helping CIA agent Sands and those loyal to the Mexican drug lord Armando Barillo. As for El, his main goal is for revenge and that is to avenge Carolina and his daughter by killing General Marquez. Who will die and who will survive in this final “El Mariachi” film?
“Once Upon a Time in Mexico” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1). Of the three films in the “El Mariachi” trilogy, as one would expect from a film created in 2003 versus the previous two from the early-to-mid ’90s, this film looks absolutely great on Blu-ray. The colors are vibrant, there is detail that can be seen with the characters, their surroundings and the picture quality looks much clearer. The blacks are nice and deep, the reds, browns and ambers are brilliant and for the most part, you can see details such as grime on the faces of characters (especially the child that helps out CIA agent Sands) and more detail on the weapons and surroundings much better on Blu-ray than its DVD counterpart.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Once Upon a Time in Mexico” is presented in English, French and Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD MA and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital. Where “Desperado” definitely shined with its guns ablazing lossless soundtrack, “Once Upon a Time in Mexico” is an action driven film that features many gunshots, many rifle shots, bullets whizzing, explosions galore. If you thought “Desperado” was action-packed, “Once Upon a Time in Mexico” is a tour-de-force when it comes to action and weapons being shot in full force within this trilogy.
Dialogue and music is clear through the center and front channels but there is such a wonderful use of the surround channels and LFE that audiophiles should be happy with the lossless soundtrack. It sounds absolutely wonderful in HD especially when you compare it to the original DVD, the Blu-ray packs a wallop in terms of audio!
Subtitles are in English, English SDH, French, Portuguese and Spanish.
“Once Upon a Time in Mexico” special features are presented in standard definition, English Stereo and with Portuguese and Spanish subtitles. Special features include:
- MovieIQ – If your Blu-ray player is connected to the Internet, while watching the film, you can access facts, trivia and movie information about “Once Upon a Time in Mexico”.
- The Cutting Room – Select certain video clips and edit and share them with other friends via Blu-ray live.
- Robert Rodriguez Audio Commentary - Like the previous films, Robert Rodriguez audio commentaries are wonderful as he goes into detail of how scenes were shot and cost-cutting corners that he used in editing and more. Just a wonderful commentary for those who want to become a filmmaker.
- Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary – Featuring a total of eight deleted scenes with optional audio commentary by director Robert Rodriguez.
- Ten-Minute Flick School – (9:04) Robert Rodriguez shares a few of his filmmaking techniques employed into “Once Upon a Time in Mexico”.
- Inside Troublemaker Studios – (11:22) Robert Rodriguez gives a tour inside of his studio, Troublemaker Studios.
- Ten-Minute COOKING School – (5:48) Robert Rodriguez teaches viewers how to cook puerco pibil.
- Film is Dead: An Evening with Robert Rodriguez – (13:18) Robert Rodriguez and Danny Trejo talking to the audience about “Once Upon a Time in Mexico”.
- The Anti-Hero’s Journey – (18:03) Director Robert Rodriguez and cast of the trilogy talk about the journey and the making of the films and how they embraced Rodriguez’ vision.
- The Good, the Bad and the Bloody: Inside KNB FX – (19:03) Behind-the-scenes of the visual effects of “Once Upon a Time in Mexico”.
When it comes to the “El Mariachi” trilogy, for any fans who have followed the career of Robert Rodriquez and was inspired by his book “Rebel Without a Crew” to his mini-film school special features and audio commentary, you can’t help but respect Robert Rodriguez.
From the time he made “El Mariachi” and doing all he can (including interesting ways to fund “El Mariachi” back then) to stay within a budget, he has become a studio’s favorite director and since 1993 and for any film student, you can’t help but respect his determination and his passion for making a movie and trying to get his independent film recognized. But most of all, even today, he manages to keep it real, continuing to help future filmmakers by providing tips and advice on DVD and Blu-ray releases that he takes part in.
Even with the release of the wonderful “Sin City” Blu-ray to most of the releases that he gets to become involved in, typically all DVD and Blu-ray releases featuring the work of Robert Rodriguez are worth owning. Future filmmakers, both the “El Mariachi/Desperado” and “Once Upon a Time in Mexico” are recommended. The amount of information and advice he gives to filmmakers through his commentary and special features are incredible!
With that being said, let’s first talk about “Once Upon a Time in Mexico”, a film that has had its positives and negatives among film critics because unlike the previous two films, because it featured plenty of characters, the main character of El Mariachi is diluted. He has a presence in the film, he is important in the film but he is just a part of the film whereas the two previous films were shaped around him. In fact, USA Today film critic Claudia Puig was correct in my opinion when she said the film paid homage to spaghetti Westerns such as Sergio Leone’s “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly”.
The film is focused more on bodies dropping, weapons firing, explosions and action after action, while the romantic and dramatic elements of El Mariachi and a woman is much different in this film as the love of his life has been killed and once again, he must get his revenge. The previous two films helped shape the character of El Mariachi, the third film tends to make him out like a Jonah Hex/Punisher comic book anti-hero in which he is a man that is literally untouchable and whoever goes against him, you know they are not going to survive.
So, approaching the film in that aspect, the film works on that level because viewers want to see bodies drop and how El Mariachi wins over the bad guys is what has been impressive in the previous two films. This time, the story has a lot going on with the characters of CIA agent Sands, agent Ajedrez, drug dealer kingpin Armando Barillo, retired FBI agent Jorge Ramirez, Billy Chambers and I have to admit that If found myself lost when it came to connecting the dots of the characters relationships, down to the point where I just wanted to see more of El Mariachi and his buddies getting revenge.
By the end of the film, I was content and for those who want a very good Western action popcorn flick, “Once Upon a Time in Mexico” fits the bill! For those who wanted more of a character driven storyline, unfortunately this film diverts itself from how the previous two films and aims to fit everyone else’s storyline in the film.
So, “Once Upon a Time in Mexico” is pretty subjective to the viewer and feel that some will have a mixed feeling towards this film but action fans and those wanting to see an all-star cast will find the film to be an enjoyable, fun and action-packed. If anything, this film is an early Rodriguez movie that showcases his love of featuring many characters, many stars as he would continue to do again in his later films such as “Sin City”, “Planet Terror” and “Machete”.
Now if you own the trilogy on DVD, is the Blu-ray worth upgrading to? If you want the best PQ and AQ and have the hardware to support it, then most definitely. These films benefit from the lossless soundtrack and the picture quality is awesome as well. The special features are the same with the exception of the trailer and the two (not-so-fun) games that were included on the original DVD but not on the Blu-ray release. But if you do have the hardware to take advantage of the HD lossless, then you’re going to love the upgrade because films such as “Desperado” and “Once Upon a Time in Mexico” sounds fantastic! And also they look great in 1080p.
Overall, “Once Upon a Time in Mexico” is a film that definitely delivers in action but unlike the two films, is not a character driven story that focus on El Mariachi completely. But still an essential film as part of the trilogy and both Blu-ray releases are definitely worth owning and are worthy of the upgrade to High Definition. Definitely recommended!
ANGELINA JOLIE, JOHNNY DEPP ACTORS THE TOURIST PHOTOCALL HOTEL ADLON, BERLIN, GERMANY 14 December 2010 DIM48849 THE TOURIST PHOTOCALL Photo via Newscom. Content © 2010 Newscom All rights reserved.
“happily ever after” is a fantastic film featuring strong performances from Yvan Attal and Charlotte Gainsbourg and the other talent in this film. The writing and cinematography (especially the music) are well-done. And I know the film goes against the trend of a romantic comedy and deals with the concept of marriage and the difficulties, but not every romance ends in a fairy tale, nor does every couple live happily ever after.
© 2005 Kino International Corp. All Rights Reserved.
DVD TITLE: happily ever after
FILM RELEASE: 2004
DURATION: 105 minutes
DVD INFORMATION: 2:35:1 letterboxed, French with optional English subtitles
COMPANY: Pathe!/Kino Video
RATED: NOT RATED
RELEASE DATE: 2005
Written and Directed by Yvan Attal
Produced by Claude Berri
Executive Produced by Salim Fassi Fihri, Pierre Grunstein, Nathalie Rheims
Music by Brad Mehldau
Cinematography by Remy Chevrin
Edited by Jennifer Auge
Casting by Noureddine Aberdine, Antoinette Boulat, Laurent Soulet
Production Design by Katia Wyszkop
Art Direction by Alexandra Lassen
Set Decoration by Sandrine Mauvezin
Costume Design by Jacqueline Bouchard
Johnny Depp as L’inconnu
Charlotte Gainsbourg as Gabrielle
Sebastien Vidal as Thibault
Yvan Attal as Vincent
Chloe Combret as Chloe
Christiane Oui-Oui as La femme de chambre
Alain Cohen as Fred
Carolina Gynning as Zoe
Alain Chabat as Georges
Ben Attal as Joseph
Emmanuelle Seigner as Nathalie
Kitu Gidwani as Mme Gibson
Sujay Sood as M. Gibson
Ruben Marx as Antoine
Writer-director Yvan Attal (My Wife is an Actress) takes a “funny, observant, evanescent approach to the mysteries of human desire” (Jami Bernard, NY DAILY NEWS) in Happily Ever After, a bittersweet comedy about the battle of the married sexes. Starring Attal and real-life amour Charlotte Gainsbourg (21 Grams), Happily Ever After uncovers a web of marital deceit and sexual combustion connecting a handful of Parisian friends, spouses and lovers.
Though to all appearances happily married parents, Vincent and Gabrielle (Attal and Gainsbourg) both harbor secret doubts about their monogamy. Despairing of the cynicism of his hen-pecked married co-worker George (Alain Chabat), and envious of the joie de vivre of his swinging single friend Fred (Alain Cohen), Vincent weighs the risks involved in both keeping himself satisfied and his marriage intact. Sensitive but independent Gabrielle, in turn, feels helpless over her partner’s increasing evasiveness and is drawn in to her own burgeoning fantasy life. But when she makes a surprising and powerful connection with a handsome stranger in a record store (“Yes… that’s Johnny Depp!” – Paul Sherman, Boston Herald), Gabrielle stops speculating about Vincent’s loyalty and begins to consider an affair of her own.
Happily Ever After‘s able cast features Emmanuelle Seigner (Bitter Moon) and memorable cameos by Anouk AimÃ©e (A Man and a Woman) and director Claude Berri. Balancing realistic characters with bravura widescreen camerawork, and enlivened by a playful and smart pop soundtrack, Happily Ever After gives exuberant new life to the age old dilemmas surrounding love, marriage, and fidelity.
A sexually-charged film that is humorous, witty, slick and cool!
In 2004, actor Yvan Attal (“Rush Hour 3″, “Munich”, “The Interpreter”) had tremendous success with writing and directing his first film “Ma femme est une actrice” (2001, My Wife Is an Actress) and in 2004, he reunited with his real-life partner Charlotte Gainsbourg (“Antichrist”, “21 Grams”, “The Tree”) for his second film which he wrote and directed titled “Ils se marièrent et eurent beaucoup d’enfants” (US Title: happily ever after) which would feature a cameo appearance by Johnny Depp and would star Sebastien Vidal, Chloe Combret, Alain Cohen, Caroline Gynning, Alain Chabat, Ben Attal and Emmanuelle Seigner.
The film revolves around a man named Vincent (played by Yvan Attal) and his wife Gabrielle (played by Charlotte Gainsbourg). The two are very much in love, married but somewhere after having kids and starting a family, the relationship has never been the same.
So, the film showcases how Vincent and his two male friends view marriage. Fred (played by Alain Cohen) is a bachelor who is near 50 and just loves having women available for sexual encounters, while Georges (played by Alain Chabat) is married to a beautiful blonde named Nathalie (played by Emmanuelle Seigner) and has a child. But Georges is not enjoying his marriage as his wife is always screaming down his neck and he doesn’t know how to cope with it and wonders if his problems are because he went for a beautiful woman instead of other women that had a chance to be with at the time.
But as for Vincent, he looks like a man who is dedicated to his wife Gabrielle and his son. He and his wife give passionate kisses, he is there to play with his son but the truth is, Vincent is also having an affair with another woman. Meanwhile, his wife Gabrielle has a sense that Vincent is having an affair and she dreams of them being separated.
One day at a music store, while listening to Radiohead’s “Creep”, a man (played by Johnny Depp) listens to the music alongside with her and there appears to be a slight attraction between them and for the first time, Gabrielle finds herself being interested in the man. Can this feeling mean that she’s wanting out of her marriage?
“happily ever after” is presented in 2:35:1, letterboxed. Unfortunately back in the early 2000′s, Kino Video wasn’t known for their picture quality for their releases. Back then, even their trailers had burned in subtitles didn’t look good at all and so people did voice their dissatisfaction back then. As for the film, picture quality is good but it does look a bit faded but it’s important to note that quality-wise, Kino Video has stepped things up since 2005 and hopefully they consider this film for Blu-ray release. But as far this DVD goes, PQ is fine but not great.
“happily ever after” is presented in Dolby Digital French with optional English subtitles. Dialogue is clear as with the music but it’s pretty much a front and center channel driven soundtrack.
“happily ever after” comes with the following special features:
- An interview with writer-director Yvan Attal – (11:57) Yvan Attal talks about how he got the idea for the film, how it’s like to work with his partner Charlotte Gainsbourg and how the concept of the film changed overtime. Also, how he convinced Johnny Depp to have a cameo in the film and discussing the ending of the film as well as how Charlotte contributed to the film outside of acting.
- deleted scene – Yvan Attal comments – (3:00) A deleted scene from the film that would have changed the film in someways. A pivotal scene in which Yvan Attal explains why he cut it out. I’m glad he did.
- trailer – (1:59) The original KINO theatrical trailer with burned-in subtitles.
- stills gallery – Using your remote, you can cycle through various stills from the film.
For me, “happily ever after” was a purchase I made after I enjoyed Yvan Attal and Charlotte Gainsbourg’s performance in the film “My Wife is an Actress” but I have to admit that one of the biggest joys of watching this film was when I was on YouTube and searching for Radiohead’s “Creep” music video and I saw this video:
I just felt this video was just amazing and found out that it was from a scene from “happily ever after” and definitely inspired me to watch the film.
And I have to say that I enjoyed “happily ever after” and it’s probably more in the context of being married and talking with other married men and questioning marriage of “does this happen to you?” and changes that happen in marriage, especially after children and those who have more than one children.
And decisions that people make and what Yvan Attal was able to write is what he saw happening in life around him. The concept of “Ils se marièrent et eurent beaucoup d’enfants” came to him when he was taking his son to school and noticing that many of the parents were single. “happily ever after” dissects the modern marriage, those who want the fairytale of happily ever after and those who don’t understand what “happily ever after” is.
Going even deeper, the film in some ways explores the male perspective of marriage. Running a household, keeping your partner happy but also examining one’s own weakness of being happy through sexual gratification or an emotional disconnect between husband and wife after one has children. I hear this all the time from friends and the fact is that many people feel that way. Some are able to accept life as is, while others can’t and they look for that gratification elsewhere.
But where I feel Attal was very smart is by showing the female perspective through Gabrielle. Knowing that she loves her husband and family but also sensing that her husband is probably out with another woman and that is why he is hardly home and wanting to be with his friends. It tears her apart because she wants to keep the marriage strong. But when she goes to the music store, is touched by the lyrics of “Creep” by Radiohead and sees another man, she feels this attraction which she can’t explain.
“happily ever after” is an enjoyable film, humorous, witty and a film that makes you laugh and smile. But at the same time, the film’s title is not meant to re-enforce the concept of marriage. The film is to show that for many couples, it doesn’t matter if you are in France, USA, UK, etc., in today’s society, “happily ever after”…the fairy tale of a long and happy marriage with the person you love is disintegrating. These are what the men are thinking in this film. In fact, there is a fourth couple which features a husband and wife that truly love each other and for the character Georges, he doesn’t understand how anyone can be happy in a marriage.
Meanwhile, Vince is a man who wants to have the fairy tale marriage that is “happily ever after” but at the same time, he finds himself wanting to have fun with another woman and tries to see if he can have both but doesn’t know how this is emotionally hurting both women who love him.
But if there is one scene that did catch my attention and it was one of the smartest scenes without any dialogue and doesn’t feature the main characters is a scene that features an older couple eating dinner and throughout the dinner, not one word is said. It’s a powerful scene which I’m sure many couples can relate to.
As for the DVD, as mentioned, older KINO video DVD’s were not known for its quality but I hold hope that this wonderful film will receive HD treatment and will be considered for Blu-ray. I would love to see this film in HD.
Overall, “happily ever after” is a fantastic film featuring strong performances from Yvan Attal and Charlotte Gainsbourg and the other talent in this film. The writing and cinematography (especially the music) are well-done. And I know the film goes against the trend of a romantic comedy and deals with the concept of marriage and the difficulties, but not every romance ends in a fairy tale, nor does every couple live happily ever after.
Definitely a film worth recommending! As for the DVD, not the greatest but let’s hope the new KINO considers this film on Blu-ray.
“Alice in Wonderland” is a enjoyable, action-driven version of the characters loosely based on the original Lewis Carroll novel. Gorgeous and creepy in visual presentation, director Tim Burton captures the feel of wonderland. If you enjoyed the film, you will definitely enjoy the Blu-ray release!
Images courtesy of © 2010 Disney. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: Alice in Wonderland
DURATION: 109 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), English, 5.1 DTS-HD MA (48 kHz/24-bit), English 2.0 DVS, Spanish and French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound, Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
COMPANY: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
RATED: PG (For Fantasy Action/Violence involving Scary Images and Situations and for a Smoking Caterpillar)
RELEASE DATE: June 1, 2010
Directed by Tim Burton
Based on the books by Lewis Carroll
Screenplay by Linda Woolverton
Executive Producer: Chris Lebenzon, Peter M. Tobyansen
Producer: Joe Roth, Jennifer Todd, Suzanne Todd, Richard D. Zanuck
Co-Producer: Katterli Frauenfelder, Linda Woolverton
Associate Producer: Derek Frey
Music by Danny Elfman
Cinematography by Dariusz Wolski
Edited by Chris Lebenzo
Casting by Susie Figgis
Production Design by Robert Stromberg
Art Direction by Tim Browning, Todd Cherniawsky, Stefan Dechant, Andrew L. Jones, Mike Stassi, Christina Ann Wilson
Set Decoration by Karen O’Hara, Peter Young
Costume Design by Colleen Atwood
Mia Wasikowska as Alice
Johnny Depp as Mad Hatter
Helena Bonham Carter as Red Queen
Anne Hathaway as White Queen
Crispin Glover as Stayne
Matt Lucas as Tweedledee/Tweedledum
Stephen Fry as the voice of Cheshire Cat
Michael Sheen as the voice of White Rabbit
Alan Rickman as the voice of Blue Caterpillar
Barbara Windsor as the voice of Dormouse
Paul Whitehouse as the voice of March Hare
Timothy Spall as the voice of Bayard
Marton Csokas as Charles Kingsleigh
Lindsay Duncan as Helen Kingsleigh
Geraldine James as LAdy Ascot
Tim Pigott-Smith as Lord Ascot
Leo Bill as Hamish
Frances de la Tour as Aunt Imogene
Jemma Powell as Margaret Kingsleigh
John Hopkins as Lowell
Tumble down the rabbit hole with Alice for a fantastical new adventure from Walt Disney Pictures and Tim Burton. Inviting and magical, ALICE IN WONDERLAND is an imaginative new twist on some of the most beloved stories of all time. Alice (Mia Wasikowska), now 19 years old, returns to the whimsical world she first entered as a child and embarks on a journey to discover her true destiny. Wonderland is a world beyond your imagination and unlike anything you’ve seen before. The extraordinary characters you’ve loved come to life richer and more colorful than ever. There’s the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), the White Queen (Anne Hathaway), the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter), the White Rabbit (Michael Sheen) and more. A triumphant cinematic experience – ALICE IN WONDERLAND is an incredible feast for your eyes, ears and heart that will captivate audiences of all sizes.
The film’s opening weekend made ALICE IN WONDERLAND the highest-grossing non-sequel opening weekend in history, the biggest March opening of all time, the biggest 3D opening of all time and the biggest IMAX opening of all time.
“Alice in Wonderland” is Tim Burton-lite but that will appeal to the young and old, without becoming overly dark or twisted.
The 2010 film directed by Tim Burton (“Corpse Bride”, “The Nightmare Before Christmas”, “Beetlejuice”) and a screenplay by Linda Woolverton (“The Lion Queen”, “Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey”, “Beauty & the Beast”) is loosely based on the Lewis Carrol 1903 classic “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”.
Featuring a production by Team Todd (The Austin Powers films, “Memento”, “Across the Universe”), the 2010 Disney incarnation received a lot of buzz when the announcement was made that the film would feature a reunion of both director Tim Burton and actor Johnny Depp but the that the film would feature a cast tat would include Mia Wasikowska, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Crispin Glover, Alan Rickman and many more. The film would also receive buzz about the creation of the world of Wonderland and the extensive use of CG, especially with its steep production budgeted at around $200 million.
Despite receiving reviews that were 50/50 from film critics, there is no denying that a Tim Burton film would bring people to the theaters and in this case, the Burton and Depp mystique would help bring in over $996 million dollars in the box office. The film would achieve the sixth highest grossing opening weekend of all time and the highest opening weekend for a non-sequel and also surpassing “Avatar” in the IMAX and is currently the highest grossing film of 2010.
The film revolves around a young girl named Alice Kingsleigh (played by Mia Wasikowska) who at a young age would have these unique dreams of talking animals and going to another world. She would tell this to her father who would be open to hearing more about Alice’s dreams.
Flashforward to Alice at 19-years-old and she is taken to a garden party at Lord Ascot’s estate and finds out the party is actually a proposal party in which a young man named Hamish would be asking Alice’s hand in marriage. But when she sees a white rabbit wanting her to join him, she goes after the rabbit and ends up falling into a rabbit hole and taken to another world.
In this world, she meets the white rabbit, the dormouse, a dodo and two bumbling twins, Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Each are debating if the young woman is “the right Alice” who has been documented as slaying the Red Queen’s dragon known as the Jabberwocky on the Frabjous Day to restore the power of the White Queen.
Of course, Alice doesn’t think she’s a fighter and thinks they have found the wrong Alice. While the others debate on if Alice is the actual Alice or not, the Red Queen’s Knave of Hearts (played by Crispin Glover) and the Red Queen’s soldiers go to capture the white rabbit and others. As everyone tries to escape, the Knave of Hearts finds a scroll and realizes that the girl who was seen running may be the Alice on the scroll who is planning to kill the Red Queen’s Jaberwocky.
Meanwhile, as Alice travels the Wonderland alone, she is greeted by the Cheshire Cat who brings Alice to the Mad Hatter (played by Johnny Depp), Doris the Mouse and March Hare. As the Mad Hatter tries to figure out if Alice is the right Alice, he explains to Alice of how the world is not the same since the Red Queen (played by Helena Bonham Carter) has taken the crown away from her sister the White Queen (played by Anne Hathaway) and how the Red Queen has had many good people killed or imprisoned and has ruled the area and making everyone fear of her. But as he tries to explain to Alice of her path, Alice does not believe she is the person that can fight a dragon and refuses to believe that she is the one they are looking for.
The Red Queen has issued an order to the Knave of Hearts to capture Alice and with the help of Bayard the bloodhound, has them searching for Alice and leading them to the Mad Hatter. With quick thinking, the Mad Hatter shrinks Alice and throws her on his hat to avoid being caught by the Red Queen’s soldiers but in the process of doing so, is captured by the Red Queen’s soldiers. But feeling guilty over how the Mad Hatter has protected her, Alice now wants to infiltrate the Red Queen’s castle and rescue the Mad Hatter and her new friends.
Will Alice find the strength to save her friends? And does she have what it takes to slay the Jabberwocky?
“Alice in Wonderland” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1) and for the most part, “Alice in Wonderland” is a film that showcases a great amount of detail on Blu-ray but in terms of colors, for example, Alice going with her mother for a party, the color seem quite muted (like it’s overcast) and I looked at it as a way for the film to show the viewer how Alice was a bit disenchanted with her life. When she falls into the hole, we notice a different, surreal landscape that was created digitally.
In fact, you will see in the special features that a large part of the film was created alongside a green screen, so for the most part, the film is CG-heavy and one can expect gorgeous CG graphics for Wonderland. Blacks are nice and deep and scenes such as the Red Queen’s lair and the use of reds are quite vibrant. And as mentioned, there is a good amount of detail. From Mad Hatter’s hat to the tea party and more.
As for the DVD version that is included with the three-disc Blu-ray release, the DVD is presented in Widescreen 1:78:1 (enhanced for 16×9 televisions).
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Alice in Wonderland” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA (48 kHz/24-bit), English 2.0 DVS, Spanish and French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. The lossless audio was very well done as the film is quite immersive. From crowd ambiance, to the smallest noises created by the Red Queen’s servants to the thunder clouds approaching nearby, to the galloping horses, the march of the soldiers and more. Dialogue is crystal clear through the front channels as Danny Elfman’s music utilizes the front channels while the surrounds utilize the special effects. From Alice falling through the hole and hitting various objects to the various characters running from the Red Queen’s soldiers and more.
“Alice in Wonderland” may not be action-heavy but the 5.1 DTS-HD MA is no slouch either. Audio is well done for this film and overall, a satisfying, immersive lossless soundtrack.
As for the DVD version that is included with the three-disc Blu-ray release, the DVD is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and English 2.0 DVS French and Spanish.
As for subtitles, the film is presented in English SDH, French and Spanish.
“Alice in Wonderland” comes with the following special features (in 1080p High Definition or 480i, Audio in English 5.1 or 2.0 and subtitles in English SDH, French and Spanish):
WONDERLAND CHARACTERS: (27:56) This segment contains the following special features:
- Finding Alice – The special effects, costume design and more.
- The Futterwacken Dance – Futterwhat? Check out the making of the timeless dance called the Futterwacken.
- The Red Queen – The creation of the Red Queen from start to finish, including early Tim Burton sketches showcasing costume designs, make-up and digital effects.
- Time-Lapse: Sculpting the Red Queen – A short time-lapse piece showing Helena Bonham Carter as she gets her make-up done. A three-hour process can be watched in just a few short minutes.
- The White Queen – An interview with Anne Hathaway, who plays Wonderland’s good queen, about her character’s journey throughout the process of the film.
Making Wonderland – (19:28) The following segment contains the mini-featurettes:
- Scoring Wonderland – Composer Danny Elfman and Tim Burton discuss the music for the movie.
- Stunts of Wonderland – A featurette highlighting some of the biggest stunts in the film.
- Making the Proper Size – An inside look at the visual effects process of growing and shrinking Alice. See how filmmakers used different techniques to stay true to the storyline.
- Cakes of Wonderland – Take a trip to “Cake Divas” where the creators of the EAT ME cakes provide viewers with details about how they made the smallest crumb to the largest cake in scale.
- Tea Party Props – Tea cups, saucers, cakes and more. Prop master Doug Harlocker gives an overview of all the props used to bring the famous tea party scene together visually.
“Alice in Wonderland” is available via a single Blu-ray disc release and a 3-Disc release. The 3-Disc release comes with a slip cover featuring artwork different than the main cover insert. Also, the film comes with a DVD version of “Alice in Wonderland” and a Digital Copy.
Tim Burton was able to create a magical world of Wonderland with its characters with the heavy use of CG. The film was literally filmed with a big green screen all around and people having to wear it while most of the work was then added via post-production in making sure the characters, the scenery and of courts the animals and inhabitants of this world are captured quite well in the film. So, I had no doubt that the Blu-ray release would look good because mostly everything is CG-driven.
“Alice in Wonderland” is a film that was received 50/50 and for the majority of the critics who are familiar with the Lewis Carrol novel, the film was a major deviation from the actual story. Whereas the novel was about a young Alice who ends up in Wonderland and interacts with the inhabitants of the land including the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter, the King and Queen and Ducchess and literally an adventurous experience of a girl in a new land.
As for the Linda Woolverton screenplay, the film is about a young adult Alice who faces adulthood. Not knowing how to explain her emotions and being asked to take part in a marriage (in which she doesn’t love the man), she just wants to escape. In Wonderland, this escape from reality is where Alice gets to know her true self and learn how to stand up for herself without anyone calling the shots in her life. Call it a coming-of-age film, “Alice in Wonderland” deals with a young woman not knowing her true strength but when her life and her new friends lives are in danger, she is the only one that can defeat the Red Queen’s biggest weapon. She may not think that it is possible but her brief stay in Wonderland will eventually be an incredible test.
Typically, I am a reviewer who tends to find CG-driven films to be quite banal of late. Granted, “Avatar” was a film that was extremely well-crafted and as for “Alice in Wonderland”, I actually enjoyed the world that Tim Burton and staff was able to create. Wonderland may be lush but a CG film can only go so far. It depends on the characters and its storyline. And reading a number of reviews, the film was split 50/50 for critics who enjoyed it or those who felt the film was to astray when compared to the original novel or just more eye candy and an unappealing film.
Sean P. Menas, film critic for The Salt Lake Tribune wrote, “Burton’s overamped, visually frenetic and chaotically action-heavy adaptation of “Alice in Wonderland” manages to be both too much and not enough of what a retelling of Alice should be.”
I have to agree with Sean P. Menas and that “Alice in Wonderland” is a film that could have been an amazing trilogy if given the chance. As I pondered about the film, sure, images of “Lord of the Rings” came to mind but it would have been great if there was more to the story of “Alice in Wonderland” because 109 minutes did not seem enough. And I felt that Tim Burton’s storyline was diluted by its pacing of trying to get from point A to point B so quickly that I found myself more in-tuned with Alice’s character and Johnny Depp’s Mad Hatter was just a creepy character that needed more time. Even the Cheshire Cat which was so instrumental in the novel was left with very little in the film.
Michael Smith of the Tulsa World writes, “A disappointment on a massive scale canvas, Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” is a beautiful, giant bore that’s almost comedy-free. It may be of some interest to adults, but kids will be bored to tears, unless they don’t listen to the leaden dialogue and imagine they are watching a new video game.”
Although, I didn’t find “Alice in Wonderland” as a giant bore, I found it to be entertaining and felt it was a film that had potential but in the end, making you feel it was OK or good but not fantastic. I can’t call the film a disappointment on a massive scale, especially as it is one of the highest grossing films of all time. I also feel that with the pairing of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, the films success was facile and if anything, their pairing would lead to financial box office success but I may not be an erudite when it comes to the original novel’s storyline but I do feel for the film, the story of “Alice in Wonderland” could have led to more sequels and stretch out the story to make us care for the characters and even Wonderland itself.
We are told that Alice has been to the Wonderland many times before, even painting roses for the Red Queen and this is where I find the biggest fault of the film. The original novel would have served a better first film for “Alice in Wonderland”, taking her to adulthood and bringing her back as featured in this film as a sequel. This would have made sense and a much more engaging film.
I did enjoy Mia Wasikowska as Alice. She fit the part of a young woman trying to find herself and both Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway did a wonderful job playing the queens. And Johnny Depp, he was wonderful as the Mad Hatter but for each of these three characters, once again, I just felt there was more storyline for these characters that could have been developed. I felt there was too much emphasis on the glitz and the look of the world while watching a girl who was trying to find her inner strength. Granted, that was the writer’s intention but for all these characters introduced, including the CG animated animals who play a major part in the film, it would have been great to see these characters explored a bit more. If anything, making the viewer care enough to see them rescued or have created some emotional connect to them. I just felt the pacing of the film was a bit rushed.
As for the Blu-ray release, there is no doubt that “Alice in Wonderland” is a beautiful film with tremendous detail. The lossless soundtrack is very good. A good amount of special features and you do get a DVD and digital copy for the 3-disc release. So, as a total package, its a pretty solid Blu-ray release from Disney. If you enjoyed the film, you will most definitely enjoy the Blu-ray release.
Overall, I was content with “Alice in Wonderland” and I’m sure that both parents and children may find the film entertaining. Those who are familiar with the original story may feel the storyline’s deviance from Lewis Carroll’s work to be too much of a difference and for children, for the most part, this is a safe film with not much violent content until the latter end of the film in which Alice goes against the Jabberwocky. Some parents might find the scene a bit too much for younger children and in that case, parental guidance is suggested.
But for me, I felt the film had tremendous potential but missed its target. Sure, it was a box office success but as I watched the film alongside with my seven-year-old son, after the film was done, the words that came out of his mouth was “is that it?” And like my son, I felt the same way about “Alice in Wonderland”… “is that it?”.