Romancing the Stone [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (14th November 2008).
The Film

When I was younger, I used to love to watch "Romancing the Stone" and its sequel "The Jewel of the Nile" (1985), these films featured adventure, action, romance and great characters. Looking back on it now the similarities to another popular adventure series (*cough* Indiana Jones *cough*) are endless, even Michael Douglas' character comes complete with fedora and leather jacket, he a sneaky conman though instead of an archaeological lecturerer-come-adventure seeker-treasure hunter like our beloved Dr. Jones. Which, I suppose adds a little something unique to this film that the Jones series didn't have. So in essence Douglas' Jack T. Colton is an anti-hero type; think Han Solo meets Indiana Jones... hmmm I guess similarities are still unavoidable.

"Romancing the Stone" follows romance novelist Joan Wilder (a pre-transvestite-looking Kathleen Turner) who just finished her latest novel when a mysterious package arrives for her from Colombia. As it turns out her sister has stumbled upon a treasure map, a map which her husband was murdered over. The map is what was sent to Joan but is forced to come to Colombia when thugs kidnap her sister and want to exchange her for the map. Joan travels to Colombia and encounters rugged bird trader-come-con-artists Jack T. Colton (Michael Douglas) and villainous Ralph (Danny DeVito) who is after the map and the stone in which it leads to... further to her troubles a private army is also after her as she faces a series of challenges and misadventure in the Colombian jungle...

The film, is much like in the same vein as the Indy films... it is fun, fluffy, adventure escapism, the plot is simple without any surprises and the action and adventure is plentiful. While the film is nothing special in itself, what makes it enjoyable, aside from the action, is the chemistry between Turner and Douglas. They are perfectly matched together and after a few minutes feels like a married couple bickering... what I didn't like was that Turner's character does nothing but complain most of the time, she screams occasionally and runs away a lot. When she finally decides to fight back she ends up in a knife fight at the end of the film, which although has some funny moments is rather silly in that eye-rolling kind of way.

The humor is well done, the classic fish out of water scenario with Turner's big city character stuck in the middle of a jungle makes for some laughs... or chuckles. The action and adventure is also a lot of fun, the waterfall scene is particularly enjoyable and one of the most memorable scenes from the film. What lessens the impact of these scenes in the typically 80's synth-style score that prevails over the entire film.

"Romancing the Stone" has it's moments, the characters are fun, the action and adventure is well done but the film does fall flat in a few areas particularly the unavoidable similarities to Indiana Jones, the cheesy score and simplistic plot that doesn't challenge viewers at all.

Video

Presented in the film's original ratio of 2.35:1, the image is delivered to viewers in high-definition 1080p 24/fps and has been created with AVC MPEG-4 compression codec. For a film that's 24 years-old the image looks pretty good, although there appears to be some digital noise reduction applied here (as grain has been removed from many shots...) grain is still evident especially amid the darker dimly lit scenes. Sharpness is very good, detail holds up well especially backgrounds. Colors appear solid and vibrant, blacks are a little murky but nothing too distracting. Overall it's a fairly good image with minor flaws that hold it back from being incredible.

Audio

Four audio tracks are included in English DTS-HD Lossless Master Audio 5.1 surround as well as tracks in English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround, French Dolby Digital 2.0 surround as well as Spanish Dolby Digital 1.0 mono. For the purposes of this review I chose to view the film with its DTS-HD track, presented in 48kHz/24-bit. The audio is hit or miss, the dialogue is clean and distortion free, the action and adventure scenes sound great and immersive but the sound effects (especially the gunshots) sound hollow and the music lacks impact. There's limited ambience and overall use of surrounds.
Optional subtitles are included in Cantonese, English HoH, Korean, Mandarin and Spanish.

Extras

Fox has released this film with a collection of small extras that include a series of deleted scenes and four featurettes. Below is a closer look at these supplements.

First up are a series of eight deleted scenes which can be viewed with a 'Play All' function or can be viewed individually. The scenes included are:

- "Jack T. Colton" runs for 2 minutes 13 seconds, is an alternate scene between Jack and Joan in the jungle talking about the treasure map and where it might lead.
- "By the River" runs for 4 minutes 22 seconds, Joan bathes in the river, while Jack brings some foliage for their campsite by the river and talk about getting to Cartagena, and then Jack wants to know more about Joan's sister.
- "Keep Quiet" runs for 1 minute 46 seconds, Jack keeps Joan quiet while men with flashlights search the area they are camped near.
- "Treasure Map" runs for 1 minute 40 seconds, Jack plays keep away with the treasure map, she tells Jack that if she delivers the map the kidnappers will free her sister.
- "Campfire and Cargo Plane" runs for 3 minutes 11 seconds, extended scene where Jack and Joan find the crashed cargo plane.
- “Romancing the Stone” runs for 1 minute 2 seconds, back in New York Joan has a conversation with her publisher about the new manuscript she has written.
- "Alligator" runs for 27 seconds, Joan faces off with an alligator.
- "The Book Signing" runs for 4 minutes 7 seconds, Joan attends a book signing were she meets some fans and her publisher invites her to dinner.

“Rekindling the Romance: A Look Back” is a featurette which runs for 19 minutes 47 seconds. This is a retrospective feature which interviews members of the cast and crew, but sadly the film's director is nowhere to be seen. The feature looks back at the film, it's production as the cast and crew share their memories from the production as well as working with each other.

“A Hidden Transcript: The Screenwriter” is the next featurette which runs for 3 minutes 15 seconds. Is a touching look at the film's screenwriter who died in a car accident, the feature pays tribute to the scribe who infused the script with a sense of fun and adventure.

“Douglas, Turner, and DeVito: Favorite Scenes” featurette runs for 3 minutes 56 seconds, these three stars look back on the film and talk about their favorite moments.

Michael Douglas Remembers” is the last featurette which runs for 2 minutes 23 seconds. This is yet another retrospective clip with Douglas only participating... the fact that this is split up into its own extra and not apart of any of the previous is kind of silly.

There are also bonus trailer for:

- "Jumper" which runs for 2 minutes 26 seconds.

Overall

The Film: C+ Video: B- Audio: C Extras: B+ Overall: C+

 


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