The biggest movie of the summer comes home this month and I got it early enough to give you a preview. I’ll start with today’s new releases, The Iron Giant: Signature Edition and Road House, then give you a preview of next week’s biggies: Captain America: Civil War, Raising Cain and my personal favorite, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping.
I am blown away by the behind the scenes feature The Giant’s Dream. I can’t recall ever seeing such a warts and all documentary on a film’s own DVD or Blu-ray, although I’m sure there has been. This one is not for kids either. It’s got lots of swearing and even though it’s bleeped your kids will ask what Brad Bird is saying. There are also two tragic deaths, Bird’s sister and Sylvia Plath, wife of the author of the book, Ted Hughes.
This 55 minute documentary shows that Bird was difficult to work with. He was ambitious and motivated, and fighting against a studio that was half-assing their animation department and basically wanted to close down after Quest for Camelot bombed, but he was still a James Cameron/Michael Bay type. I mean, they have outtakes of the DVD extras where people have a hard time saying nice things about him! It’s also fun to see Lorenzo DiBonaventura at a Quest presentation full of hope. The style is great. There are no talking heads, just sound bites as narration and cartoon renderings of some of Bird’s contentious meetings. Snippets of Bird’s early animation are a treat to see, but this is a Sweatbox style documentary and they put it right on the Blu-ray! As well they should. It’s important to be honest about how art gets made.
The film itself looks great in HD. The environments range from stormy ocean to golden sunrise, autumn forest colors to snowfall. The Norman Rockwell-y small town images feel like vital nostalgia, and when the Giant takes to the skies through the clouds it is majestic.
Aside from a big fingerprint on the opening scene of the movie, the new 2K transfer of the bar fighting classic looks great in 2K. Shout! Factory also did Midnight Run in 2K but I think Road House looks better. It looks more like film than Midnight, and it’s very bright for taking place mostly in dive bars. They want us to see everything in the set dressing. The farmland where Dalton (Patrick Swayze) rents a room looks beauiful and Swayze glistens doing tai chi in the grass.
There’s an hour long documentary full of new interviews with Kelly Lynch, director Rowdy Herrington, stuntmen and supporting cast. Everyone knows the tone of the movie. They celebrate that they made a big budget B movie. Plus, there’s even more. 30 more minutes with Herrington, 15 with Swayze’s wife Lisa, more on the film’s stunts and all the old bonus features that do include Swayze when he was still with us.
Marvel has managed to make live action comic books, and they look even more like pages come to life in HD. Civil War boasts bright skies and colorful costumes mingling with the real world on the ground, showing the detail in all the debris of their battles. Lagos is weathered like years of living in Nigeria, but they actually built it all in Atlanta. Scenes like the apartment stairwell fight and the tunnel chase tearing up pavement also provide lots of detail. The airport scene, the civil war itself with all the different powers coming at each other so fast, is remarkable that every character remains clear and colorful between Iron man, Spidey, Ant-Man, Cap himself down to the all black Black Panther. I do have to say the teenage Downey effect looks even more distorted on the small screen, but that’s just one small mistake.
Deleted scenes show us a little more airport action with unfinished effects, and a tad more drama with Emily van Camp and Chadwick Boseman. The bonus features, for being over 45 minutes long, largely go through the plot and which sides of Civil War the characters are on. The commentary is better able to give depth to the story development and producing these elaborate scenes, while giving credit to the second unit team who did much of the memorable moments.
I have heard legends of the Raising Cain press junket from my colleagues. Apparently the press screening was met with laughter, so the morning of the interviews the studio handed out new press notes calling the film a dark comedy. When the press asked Brian De Palma about making a dark comedy, he didn’t know what they were talking about. He hadn’t gotten the memo.
The big news about Raising Cain is that Peet Gelderblom re-edited the DVD to put scenes in the order De Palma originally intended. Now we get the recut in Blu-ray quality along with the theatrical. It is a definitive difference. The theatrical cut celebrated the crazy right off the bat. It is much more sinister when revealed later in the film. Bonus features are typically thorough by Scream Factory. They got 30 minutes with John Lithgow and thorough one on ones with pretty much everyone except for De Palma and Lolita Davidovich.
This is the movie I really wish had done better this summer. It is hilarious and has great music that satirizes the bravado of pop stars, yet when it takes the characters seriously I feel it earned them. Hopefully people will discover it on Blu-ray. The flashy concert performances look great in HD.
About an hour of deleted scenes are mostly amusing, but nothing that made me cry laughing like the Mona Lisa song. There’s a good spoof of Justin Bieber’s Anne Frank house antics but it’s brief. There’s a lot more with the fake TMZ show and it’s all good, but the best ones are in the movie.