Aisle Seat HULK Edition!
Andy Reviews the Latest Marvel Comics Film
Plus: Vintage DVDs including EXPERIMENT IN TERROR
and THE LONG SHIPS
By Andy Dursin
It's hard to imagine that there has been or ever will be a super-hero
movie that divides as many viewers as Ang Lee's ambitious filming of THE
From the pre-release buzz about how Lee had taken a revisionist tact
with the origin of the Stan Lee-Jack Kirby Marvel comic book hero, to the
first, fleeting -- and unfinished -- glimpses of the all-CGI green one
during the Super Bowl last winter, the comics-to- movie community has been
eagerly awaiting, and debating, the big-budget film. Early reactions have
ranged from utter disgust to complete and total admiration, which brings
me to my viewing on opening day last Friday.
Before I dive into specifics, I can say that I was first appalled when
I heard about the concept of Lee and James Schamus' version. Having grown
up on the old Bill Bixby-Lou Ferrigno show, plus the various cartoon incarnations,
the idea that Bruce Banner became the Hulk courtesy of his father's attempts
to play God, to the mystery surrounding his mother's death, to the Hulk
being able to leap tall buildings with a single bound -- all of them were
pretty hard to swallow considering my youthful memories of the Incredible
While what Lee and Schamus (along with credited co-writers Michael France
and John Turman) have come up with is at times too dark for its own good,
and is overly bogged down in psychological aspects that don't quite come
off, THE HULK is still an ambitious, flawed, but always watchable combination
of silly, colorful Marvel Comics action and a study of parents and children
and what makes us all tick.
Sound like a jumbled mess? Well, it works better than you might have
heard. Eric Bana essays Bruce Banner, a California research scientist who
works alongside former lover Betty Ross (Jennifer Connelly) in a lab for
their betterment of mankind. Their work, though, spurs interest from Josh
Lucas, who represents an "evil corporation" that's also associated with
Betty's military dad (Sam Elliott). Enter Bruce's long-lost father (Nick
Nolte, appropriately disheveled in one of his best performances in years),
who has tracked down his son and wants to make good on the experiments
he believes are trapped in his son's DNA. Obviously, it's just a matter
of time before Bruce is ticked off and his transformation into the Hulk
When it does, it's a triumph of CGI animation on the part of Industrial
Light & Magic, who have fully captured the look and movement of a comic
book character on-screen. Unlike the tempering of the X-Men's physical
characteristics (i.e. their subdued uniforms), ILM's Hulk isn't a compromise
-- it's the animated character captured in its full, colorful glory, and
while some may carp that the Hulk doesn't look "real" (as if a 20- foot
green creature ever could), I found ILM's work to be tremendous here. The
Hulk's facial animation is nothing short of outstanding (he's certainly
more emotive than Bana's bland Banner), like a combination of Frankenstein's
monster and Ferrigno's old muscular creation, and the level of detail in
the creature is astounding.
That aspect of the movie brings with it some completely absurd sequences
-- like the Hulk's battle with gamma-radiated dogs -- but they're completely
in tune with the kind of action that anyone who grew up reading Marvel
Comics will appreciate seeing on-screen. This Hulk does have the ability
to leap into the sky, bound off cliffs and ledges, and dismantle anything
that comes in his way, but the FX are great and Lee builds the dramatic
conflict between father and son up enough that the movie works if you're
willing to meet it halfway -- especially in its almost-indescribable, completely
"comic book" final confrontation between the two.
Getting to that point does require some patience, as Lee spends a great
deal of time establishing the relationships between nutty old man Banner
and his bottled up son, not to mention Betty Ross and her military father.
It's a little heavy-handed and slow-going at times, but you have to applaud
the filmmakers for trying to establish characters and drama in a movie
that ultimately turns more outlandish than any comic book film in recent
Nolte's ultimately over-the-top performance goes for broke and fits
the movie perfectly, as does Elliott's excellent work as Ross' father.
Bana and Connelly are OK but don't have much chemistry with one another,
and the former is completely overshadowed by the Hulk once the muscular
one takes over. One failing of the film is its notable lack of humor --
there should have been an additional supporting player on-hand for the
audience to identify with, since every character is overly brooding and
wrapped up in the story.
Visually, THE HULK benefits from Frederick Elmes' fine cinematography
and the use of comic book-styled "panels" that keep reminding the viewer
that you're watching a comic book movie -- even if the Shakespearian aspects
of the script sometimes clash with its pulpy pedigree.
Danny Elfman's music, meanwhile, is always serviceable but comes off
as uninspired for the composer, sounding like a compromise between what
Lee reportedly wanted (is there some point to the female vocalist who wails
away on the soundtrack?) and a by-the- numbers Elfman score that has "auto-pilot"
written all over it (the furious "lab montage" motifs reminiscent of "Darkman,"
the dark and brooding "Batman"-like aspects, the "Planet of the Apes" percussion,
etc). While I wasn't a huge fan of Elfman's solid but unremarkable work
on "Spider-Man" last year, THE HULK unquestionably sounds like the result
of one too many trips to the same well for the composer.
THE HULK is decidedly uneven but constantly surprising and, in the end,
highly satisfying from a number of angles. It's a movie that takes a lot
of risks and encompasses a wide range of emotions, and while some are more
successful than others, it's certainly one of the most audacious attempts
at creating a live-action comic-book that can sustain the interest of both
adults and kids. Even with its shortcomings, it's a strongly recommended
view in another summer of cinematic mediocrity. (PG-13, 138 mins)
New Vintage Offerings On DVD
EXPERIMENT IN TERROR. 1962, 123 mins., Columbia TriStar. ANDY'S
RATING: ***. CAST: Glenn Ford, Lee Remick, Stefanie Powers, Ross Martin.
COMPOSER: Henry Mancini. SCRIPT: The Gordons, from their novel "Operation
Terror." DIRECTOR: Blake Edwards. DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Trailer. TECHNICAL
SPECS: 1.85 Widescreen, mono sound.
Beautifully crafted 1962 thriller finds bank teller Lee Remick being
coerced into performing a bank robbery for killer Ross Martin. FBI man
Glenn Ford is soon on the case, attempting to track down the elusive Martin
while protecting Remick, who lives with her younger sister (Stefanie Powers)
in an eerie San Francisco where the killer could lurk in any corner.
Blake Edwards directed this highly acclaimed suspense picture, which
is atmospherically shot in black-and-white and sports one of Henry Mancini's
most low-key and effective soundtracks. The film's matter-of-fact tone
was ahead of its time in many respects, and the way in which it simply
hints at violence and sex makes it that much more effective than many of
today's more explicit and sensational genre films. This is a taut, well-oiled
machine of a movie, deftly utilizing the Bay Area locations (including
the memorable final showdown at Candlestick Park) to give the drama a strong
sense of time and place. Remick and Ford are both excellent, and there's
one doozy of a scene involving mannequins that should still send a sharp
shiver down the viewer's spine.
Columbia TriStar's DVD includes a crisp 1.85 transfer that looks terrific.
The mono sound is also fine, enabling you to hear the ominous strains of
Mancini's score -- one of his most atypical, and undoubtedly one of his
IS PARIS BURNING? 1966, 172 mins., Paramount. ANDY'S
RATING: **1/2. CAST: Jean-Paul Belmondo, Charles Boyer, Leslie Caron, Jean-Pierre
Cassel, George Chakiris, Alain Delon, Kirk Douglas, Glenn Ford, Gert Frobe,
Yves Montand, Anthony Perkins, Simone Signoret, Robert Stack, Orson Welles.
COMPOSER: Maurice Jarre. SCRIPT: Gore Vidal, Francis Ford Coppola. DIRECTOR:
Rene Clement. TECHNICAL SPECS: 2.35 Widescreen, 5.1 Dolby Digital surround.
International epic boasts a mostly French cast with a few American cameos
incorporated in an attempt to sell the movie to U.S. audiences. While the
end result met with mixed reception, IS PARIS BURNING? is still an interesting
and captivating attempt to convey the history of Paris' final hours under
Nazi occupation at the end of WWII.
Sporting a fragmented script credited to Gore Vidal and Francis Coppola
(other screenwriters are credited with material for the French and German
scenes), IS PARIS BURNING? utilizes newsreel footage, authentic locales,
and actual tales of the French resistance's fight to reclaim the city and
prevent a Nazi wave of destruction ordered by Hitler in the waning hours
of WWII. The film is decidedly episodic, opening somewhat raggedly with
one woman's futile attempt to find her POW husband before he's dragged
off to Germany, and unfolding with often brief cameos by U.S. stars like
Kirk Douglas (as General Patton!), Anthony Perkins (as a soldier wanting
to see the Eiffel Tower), Glenn Ford, and Robert Stack as the Americans
finally intervened in the effort. Orson Welles, on the other hand, garners
more screen time in a solid performance, while Gert Frobe essays a somewhat
sympathetic Nazi who knows full well that the battle is over (the scene
in which the two have a discussion while sitting next to a table full of
desserts is unintentionally amusing, however!).
The film does have its problems -- its length for one -- and nearly
every star, regardless of their country of origin, has been dubbed to the
point where even Kirk Douglas doesn't sound like Kirk Douglas. Some of
the dubbing is atrocious, but IS PARIS BURNING? does have its bright spots:
terrific black-and-white cinematography in full widescreen, a compelling
central story that survives in spite of its structural problems, and a
glorious Maurice Jarre score. Jarre deftly combines the bold, militaristic
sound of war with gentle Parisian waltzes, making for a memorable soundtrack
that carries much of the picture.
Paramount's DVD incorporates Jarre's original Overture, though make
sure you listen to it on the menu screen BEFORE starting the film -- the
movie will automatically start after the overture has played (if you hit
"Play Movie," you'll skip the Overture). The 5.1 Dolby Digital remix is
outstanding, aiding the film's strong asset, with even some split surround
effects employed at various points.
The 2.35 transfer is perfectly framed and varies in terms of the condition
of the print. Obviously, some newsreel footage looks excessively grainy,
as do scenes involving subtitles; other sequences are flawless, and the
B&W cinematography is likewise excellent (there's a final color shot
at the very end).
IS PARIS BURNING? is an interesting war epic that -- despite its flaws
-- comes highly recommended both for its historical relevance and its relatively
offbeat presentation, which separates it from many of its peers in the
genre. Recommended, for Jarre's score and the cinematography alone.
THE LONG SHIPS. 1963, 125 mins., Columbia TriStar.
ANDY'S RATING: **1/2. CAST: Richard Widmark, Sidney Poitier, Russ Tamblyn,
Rosanna Schiaffino, Edward Judd, Oscar Homolka. COMPOSER: Dusan Radic.
SCRIPT: Berkely Mather, Beverley Cross from the novel by Frans Bengtsson.
DIRECTOR: Jack Cardiff. DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Trailer. TECHNICAL SPECS:
2.35 Widescreen, mono sound.
Don't you just love it when a movie you'd never thought would see the
light of day on DVD is actually released?
The 1963 adventure THE LONG SHIPS is one of those gloriously fun, "Saturday
Matinee" flicks that's part camp, part comic book, and 100% brainless entertainment
for viewers of all ages.
Richard Widmark plays a Viking (!!) shipwrecked in a Moorish kingdom
presided over by Prince Sidney Poitier (just coming off his Oscar win for
"Lilies of the Field"). Widmark spins some wild yarns about a giant gold
bell dubbed the "Mother of Voices," which leads Prince Sidney to torture
Widmark about its whereabouts -- but not before Dick the Viking stages
a miraculous escape back to his homeland. After an apparently uneventful
journey back, he joins up with brother Russ Tamblyn, kidnaps the Viking
King's daughter (Rosanna Schiaffino), and steals his boat in an attempt
at claiming the Bell.
Long-time Ray Harryhausen collaborator Beverley Cross co-wrote this
colorful widescreen adventure: like a B-grade variation on "The Vikings,"
but in some ways just as much fun. Widmark's miscasting is a bit much at
times, but he's certainly energetic enough, and is supported by a strong
production shot in Yugoslavia, a good supporting cast (Poitier is indeed
"The Man"), and Dusan Radic's sweeping orchestral score. Christopher Challis'
Panavision cinematography is terrific, and there's even an opening title
sequence and prologue concocted by Maurice Binder of James Bond fame. Add
in some lovely looking ladies, sprawling battle scenes, and tongue-in-cheek
humor, and THE LONG SHIPS stays afloat with ridiculous, escapist entertainment
that still pleases today.
Columbia TriStar's DVD looks fine. The 2.35 transfer, remastered in
high definition, is superb, and the mono sound is likewise accomplished.
Special features are limited to a theatrical trailer, but in this day and
age of current movies receiving a myriad of releases on DVD, it's great
to see a cult favorite like THE LONG SHIPS being released at all. Good
New Release Pick of the Week
THE GURU. 95 mins., 2003, R, Universal. ANDY'S RATING: ***. CAST:
Jimi Mistry, Heather Graham, Marisa Tomei, Michael McKean, Christine Baranski.
COMPOSER: David Carbonara. SCRIPT: Tracey Jackson. DIRECTOR: Daisy von
Scherler Mayer. DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Deleted scenes, commentary tracks.
TECHNICAL SPECS: 1.85 Widescreen, 5.1 DTS and Dolby Digital sound.
Colorful, fun comic romp chronicles the adventures of a well-meaning
Indian immigrant (Jimi Mistry), who arrives in the U.S. hoping to become
an actor but instead finds employment as a porn star. Along the way, he
turns into a "Guru" of sex for wealthy NYC socialites, like a clueless
With ample musical interludes (with homages to both Bollywood and Hollywood's
"Grease"), THE GURU is an energetic, highly entertaining comedy that received
only limited distribution in the U.S. last winter, despite mostly positive
reviews. Mistry's likeable performance carries the film, with able support
supplied by Heather Graham as a porn actress his character meets along
the way, and Marisa Tomei as a lost soul seeking spiritual guidance. Michael
McKean and Christine Baranski, meanwhile, supply more laughs, while director
Daisy von Scherler Mayer ("Madeline") keeps the picture moving at a brisk
Universal's superb DVD includes a gorgeous 1.85 transfer with vibrant
5.1 DTS and Dolby Digital soundtracks. Special features are abundant, including
deleted scenes (a few of which shouldn't have been cut), and two commentary
tracks (one by Mistry, the other by the director).
THE GURU is a consistently amusing sleeper that's well worth tracking
down if you're in the mood for a few laughs. Recommended!
Creature Features and Action Flicks
THEY. 90 mins., 2002, PG-13, Buena Vista. ANDY'S RATING: *1/2.
CAST: Laura Regan, Marc Blucas, Ethan Embry. COMPOSER: Elia Cmiral. SCRIPT:
Brendan William Hood. DIRECTOR: Robert Harmon. DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Alternate
ending. TECHNICAL SPECS: 2.35 Widescreen, 5.1 Dolby Digital sound.
Mindless psychological thriller/monster movie mumbo-jumbo tries to up
the scare quotient without going overboard with gore -- and yet, what's
the point of a scare movie with a plot so absurd and poorly developed that
you could care less about anyone and anything that happens in it?
The bland Laura Regan plays a young woman plagued by nightmares, and
a bevy of friends with some similarly bad experiences in their upbringings.
In fact, one ol' childhood pal decides to kill himself after talking about
creatures who hide out under your bed and wait for the darkness to drag
you away. Actually, to be specific, they do that after "marking" their
victims and waiting until years later to return just so that there's enough
of a "story" to flesh out a 90-minute feature film. Soon after, Regan sees
and hears things coming from her closet, her boyfriend (Marc Blucas from
Buffy) thinks she's going insane, the books she reads talk about hellish
creatures who strike in the night -- and the point of all of this is --
well, I'm still trying to figure out what the point of THEY is, though
to be honest, I'm not thinking all that hard about it.
Robert Harmon's film is stylishly shot and offers creature effects by
Patrick Tatopoulos, but the real mystery about THEY is why Dimension Pictures
purchased it and opted to give it a national release, relegating far more
deserving genre flicks like "Below" and "Equilibrium" to video store fodder.
THEY offers uninteresting characters and stock movie situations so routine
that they only enhance the absurdity of the story as a whole. What are
these creatures? Why are they hiding out only in Regan's bathroom mirror?
Why do stupid movie victims keep crawling into claustrophobic air ducts
to find out what a mysterious noise is? And, more importantly, just what
the heck was the point of this mess? If you're looking for all the evidence
you need that Brendan William Hood's woefully undeveloped story needed
a rewrite or two, check out the DVD's alternate ending -- which laughably
tries to put a "Usual Suspects" twist on the entire story. While it seems
as if the excised finale is a bit of a stretch (and by itself raises all
kinds of questions), at least it makes a lot more sense than the ending
that WAS used in its place. Buena Vista's DVD at least looks great with
a superb 2.35 transfer and pounding 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack, sporting
a formulaic score by Elia Cmiral.
TEARS OF THE SUN. 121 mins., 2003, R, Columbia
TriStar. ANDY'S RATING: **1/2. CAST: Bruce Willis, Monica Bellucci, Cole
Hauser, Tom Skerritt. COMPOSER: Hans Zimmer. SCRIPT: Alex Lasker, Patrick
Cirillo. DIRECTOR: Antoine Fuqua. DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Two audio commentaries;
Making Of; deleted scenes; Africa "fact track" and interactive map. TECHNICAL
SPECS: 2.40 Widescreen, 5.1 Dolby Digital sound.
In this post-Private Ryan era, I suppose most war movies will resemble
TEARS OF THE SUN, which seems like it wants to break into a full-scale
action flick a la "Rambo," but instead tempers its head-bashing sensibilities
with "introspective" sentiments about the horror of war and the meaning
Bruce Willis gives another stoic and sleepy performance as a Navy SEAL
sent by Tom Skerritt into Nigeria, where an African governmental coup has
occurred, sending non-Muslims to run for cover. Willis and his team are
ordered to find Lena Hendricks (Monica Bellucci), the widow of an American
doctor working with missionaries deep in the jungle. Once they get there,
Hendricks predictably doesn't want to leave her injured and battered patients
behind, which forces Willis into an ethical decision about carrying out
his orders and "doing the right thing."
Antoine Fuqua ("Training Day") does an effective job with this good-looking
action thriller, with solid cinematography by Mauro Fiore and an elaborate
sound design making you feel that you're right in the thick of combat.
While the performances are all commendable, the trouble with TEARS OF THE
SUN is its repetitive script, credited to Alex Lasker and Patrick Cirillo.
This is a straight-ahead war movie with the Private Ryan/"Thin Blue Line"
type of touchy-feely emotions mixed in, meaning that there are passages
when our heroes stop to contemplate what's happening and the plight of
the refugees. It's certainly a noble sentiment, but it sure seems out of
place in a movie where one wishes that Willis would just dispense with
his steely demeanor and turn into John McClane again. The combat scenes
are efficiently handled, but the middle-of-the-road approach makes for
an action movie that's never thrilling enough to satisfy on that level,
while being too routine and predictable to function on the human scale.
Columbia TriStar's impressive-looking DVD sports a very wide 2.40 widescreen
transfer, and a predictably active 5.1 Dolby Digital sounding sporting
a redundant Hans Zimmer score that often sounds like a recycling of (surprise,
surprise) "The Thin Blue Line." Special features include a pair of commentary
tracks and deleted scenes, plus Making Of material and interactive content
(maps, fact track) about Africa -- which would have meant more if the story
itself was based on a true story.
Comedies, Dramas, and Everything Else
OLD SCHOOL. 92 mins., 2003, Unrated, Dreamworks. ANDY'S RATING:
**1/2. CAST: Luke Wilson, Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn. COMPOSER: Theodore
Shapiro. SCRIPT: Todd Phillips and Scot Armstrong. DIRECTOR: Todd Phillips.
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Deleted scenes, bloopers, featurettes, "Inside the
Actors Studio" spoof, commentary. TECHNICAL SPECS: 2.35 Widescreen, 5.1
DTS and Dolby Digital sound.
Director Todd Phillips' follow-up to his surprisingly funny "Road Trip"
isn't as cohesive or consistently amusing, but OLD SCHOOL does sport a
few choice moments just the same.
Luke Wilson plays a normal, everyday guy whose old college pals (Vince
Vaughn, SNL's Will Ferrell) opt to start a "fraternity" for their friend
after his girl is caught cheating with not one but two different accomplices.
Yup, it's the ol' collegiate life lived all over again -- crazy initiation
ceremonies, huge parties with endless brew, silly pranks and big-time hangovers
-- but this time with the added benefit of being older and even more irresponsible
OLD SCHOOL's central "story" -- of Wilson rediscovering his zest for
life and love again -- doesn't work at all, and feels like strict filler
for the "funny parts." Thankfully, there are enough of them to warrant
a viewing, particularly with the manic Ferrell on-hand to single-handedly
provide the majority of the script's guffaws. Playing a Party Animal repressed
by his recent marriage, Ferrell believably essays an ex-Bluto who's able
to find himself again by guzzling mass quantities of beer -- a quest decidedly
more entertaining than anything else in the film. So even if the picture
is an uneven romp, Ferrell and some uproarious scenes make OLD SCHOOL worth
Dreamworks' excellent DVD offers some terrific special features made
exclusively for disc. The 20-minute "Inside the Actors Studio" spoof is
a perfect replication of James Lipton's pretentious Bravo chatfest, with
Ferrell reprising his SNL impersonation for a conversation with the cast
and crew (including himself). Deleted scenes, bloopers, and more traditional
Making Of featurettes round out the package, which also includes an amusing
The film itself looks great in 2.35 widescreen with DTS and Dolby Digital
soundtracks, and Dreamworks has issued two different packages of OLD SCHOOL
on disc: the original R-rated cut, and an overly-promoted "Unrated!" version
that, like "Road Trip," primarily consists of added nudity (the running
times are nearly identical).
A GUY THING. 101 mins., 2003, PG-13, MGM. ANDY'S
RATING: *1/2. CAST: Jason Lee, Julia Stiles, Selma Blair, James Brolin,
Shawn Hatosy, Julie Hagerty. COMPOSER: Mark Mothersbaugh. SCRIPT: Greg
Glienna, Peter Schwaba, Matt Tarses, Bill Wrubel. DIRECTOR: Chris Koch.
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Deleted scenes, three alternate endings, bloopers,
featurettes, audio commentary, trivia track, trailer. TECHNICAL SPECS:
1.85 and full-screen transfers, 5.1 Dolby Digital sound.
A picture-perfect example of a mid-January theatrical release, A GUY
THING is a game attempt at making a ridiculous, just-for-laughs romantic
comedy. The only trouble is: despite energetic performances, this dreary,
dismal film is hardly funny and sometimes downright painful to watch.
Jason Lee, out of his element as a "straight man" here, stars as a regular
guy engaged to Selma Blair, by now typecast in this kind of role. During
the predictably raucous bachelor party, Lee meets perky hula dancer Julia
Stiles, who he ends up sleeping with. Before you can cue the laugh track,
Lee wakes up with Stiles by his side, and therein begins the shenanigans
-- which ultimately include the discovery that Stiles is Blair's cousin!
Director Chris Koch tries awfully hard to maintain a frantic pace and
a brainless story that's dictated simply by laughs, but A GUY THING never
works because the material is awfully desperate. Like a Farrelly Brothers
ripoff, the movie throws in the requisite bathroom gags and jokes (hey,
there's even spiked gravy served at dinner!), leaving the talented cast
to flounder with material not worth their time -- or yours.
MGM's Special Edition DVD offers three alternate endings and deleted
scenes with the director's introduction; Koch's audio commentary; mostly-fluff
filled featurettes; and both 1.85 and full-screen transfers, supported
by an overly-zany Mark Mothersbaugh score.
ME WITHOUT YOU. 101 mins., 2001, R, Columbia TriStar.
ANDY'S RATING: **. CAST: Michelle Williams, Anna Friel, Oliver Milburn,
Kyle MacLachlan, Trudie Styler. COMPOSER: Adrian Johnston. SCRIPT: Sandra
Goldbacher, Laurence Coriat. DIRECTOR: Sandra Goldbacher. DVD SPECIAL FEATURES:
Trailers. TECHNICAL SPECS: 1.85 Widescreen (cropped?), 5.1 Dolby Digital
Long, drawn-out saga of two girls who grow up -- and apart -- in London
over a span of nearly 30 years.
Michelle Williams ("Dawson's Creek") is the daughter of a conservative
family who befriends outgoing Anna Friel, whose mother is hooked on drugs
and sports more progressive views than Williams' domineering mother. The
two form an alliance that carries them through the "Me" decade -- with
ample sex, drugs and rock & roll -- while suffering through uneasy
relationships and a growing distance between them.
Williams and Friel give strong performances, but director/co-writer
Sandra Goldbacher's movie is predictable and slow-moving, a typical "rites
of passage"/growing up picture with a distracting rock soundtrack.
Columbia TriStar's DVD offers a fine 1.85 transfer, which apparently
has been cropped from the original 2.35 Panavision aspect ratio. While
the opening credits play out in 2.35, the rest of the film is framed at
1.85, and there is some evidence of cropping going on throughout. The 5.1
Dolby Digital soundtrack is OK, though special features are limited to
Aisle Seat Mail Bag
From Phil Martyn:
In answer to the Aisle Seat Mail Bag for June 10 and Mr.
Harry Chen's question "Any comments froms BTTF fans in other countries?
". Well I'm UK-based and I can confirm that there is a problem with both
the R2 and R4 discs. Replacement discs will allegedly be available in July
From "A Concerned Reader":
Concerning the BTTF boxed set, it seems like most regions
were affected with the misframing problem. The below info (for R2 and from
DVDTalk.com) might be of interest to Harry Chen.
From JP Falcon:
He can send to the below address for exchange; all he needs to
send is a copy of the receipt and a letter with shipping/telephone number/e-mail,
etc., without the need to send the old discs back:
Customer Services - BTTF
JP, I have mixed feelings on this. While I wholeheartedly agree that full
box sets of these shows would be the way to go, I'm happy to see these
compilation discs being issued in the first place (and with supplemental
content as well). Sure, they feel like an appetizer instead of a full-course
meal, but hopefully they'll sell well enough for Buena Vista among other
labels to consider releasing the complete series sets that these shows
While I understand your expressed pleasure in the supplemental material
provided in the Incredible Hulk DVD, I am annoyed at the scattershot distribution
of the early Merry Marvel Marching Society material, as well as the Ralph
Barkshi Spiderman series. Both of these series deserve complete set DVD
treatment that so many animated shows are now receiving. While the MMMS
had some of the crudest animation you will ever see, the daily series featuring
Captain America, Hulk, Ironman, Thor, and Submariner were very faithful
to the comics which they were drawn from. Ralph Bakshi's Spiderman was
an animated spree on acid. It's a shame that these series are not getting
their proper due with complete releases. Parceling them out the way they
are seems like such a waste of an opportunity.
NEXT WEEK: The JAWS sequels, GANGS OF NEW YORK,
and more! Send all emails to firstname.lastname@example.org
and we'll catch you then. 'Nuff said!