Pretty Woman: Special 10th Anniversary Edition (1990)
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Theatrical Trailer-1.33:1, not 16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0 (2:38)
Music Video-Wild Women Do (4:11)
|Year Of Production||1990|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (73:28)||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Language Select Then Menu|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Garry Marshall|
Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
|RPI||$36.95||Music||James Newton Howard|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Is it just me or does it seem odd to call this the 10th Anniversary Special Edition when in actual fact it is about thirteen years since the film was released? Mind you, the ID number for this DVD in the database indicates just how long we have been awaiting this release - current releases are numbered well into the 7,000 series, yet this throws back to the mid 3,000 series. Of course, the original 10th Anniversary edition was released for the 10th Anniversary and was a little different in being the Director's Cut. The Director's Cut adds just about five minutes of footage, much of which is only really noticeable because you, like me, have probably seen the film so many times that we know the film pretty much back to front. Of course, it does not hurt that five extra minutes of footage might actually see people go out and buy the new Special Edition DVD too. Got to add to those big dollars that the film has made since it was released!
As I have said before, the film is broadly a 1990's remake of the Cinderella story, one of many to emerge in the last ten years or so. Just in case you happen to have missed the film (if that is remotely possible), Edward Lewis (Richard Gere) is a very successful, very handsome businessman specialising in corporate raiding. He is also the king of impossible relationships. After breaking up with his girlfriend over the telephone, he decides to leave the party being thrown by his obsequious lawyer. Borrowing his lawyer's Lotus, he finds himself a tad lost in Hollywood. Now contrary to the popular version of Hollywood, the place is not exactly a terrific place and at night is the gathering point of prostitutes, amongst a lot of other worse elements. So it is that Edward pulls up lost on Hollywood Boulevard and attracts the attention of Vivian Ward (Julia Roberts), who in the absence of any other business opportunities for the evening, agrees to give personal directions to Edward in exchange for $20. So commences a rather unusual evening in Beverly Hills, and more especially the Beverly Hills Wilshire Hotel, that extends to a week-long engagement. Not quite fitting in to the usual crowd of Beverly Hills, when shopping Vivian is refused service at a store and then faces the inquisition from the hotel manager Barnard Thompson (Hector Elizondo). With his assistance, and Edward's money, she gets on the right track to make an impression and get the offer of a lifetime.
Nothing too mind blowing as far as the story is concerned, but the film has always transcended the rather banal little story through the somewhat inspired casting. Julia Roberts was in the halcyon days of her first period of super stardom, and nailed the somewhat starry eyed, love stricken prostitute. Richard Gere was a perfect foil and the pairing was so successful that they of course were later re-teamed in The Runaway Bride. However, for me the film was made by the supporting cast and in particular Hector Elizondo as the rather stern manager of the rather posh Beverly Hills Wilshire Hotel, who comes to warm to Vivian. Another obvious highlight though is Laura San Giacomo as Kit De Luca, Vivian's comrade in arms in the prostitute sense. Jason Alexander does an adequate job of the lawyer but really for me never really captured the sleazy side of a lawyer enjoying the hunt and kill. The whole film was nicely realised by Garry Marshall and the success the film achieved, at least commercially, was well deserved. However, thirteen years on and multiple viewings later it has to be said that, whilst still an eminently watchable film, it is losing its lustre just a little. Nonetheless, there are very few romantic comedies made that have this easy going nature and that have worn so well.
A most enjoyable film it may be, and certainly one that can be chucked into the player on a reasonably regular basis for a bit of entertainment. The earlier release was afflicted with just about everything bad that Buena Vista could throw at a DVD release: flipper formatting, lack of 16x9 enhancement and zero extras whatsoever. So by any way of looking at it, anything would have to be an improvement in the release department...
Except that the transfer remains infuriatingly not 16x9 enhanced. I don't think I need to rant again on this point. The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 which is the original theatrical ratio.
The transfer is reasonably sharp and quite well detailed throughout, although the first thirteen or so minutes are anything but. In fact those first thirteen minutes are quite poor, with a grainy, ghosting, diffuse image that almost makes you wonder how the rest of the transfer can be so different. After that first section, things progressively improve and by the end of the film there really are few problems at all. Clarity was good barring that first section, as was the grain levels - although the film tends to have a slightly grainy look throughout. Shadow detail was on occasions just a little disappointing - the opera house scenes for instance - but overall more than acceptable. There did not seem to be any low level noise problems with the transfer.
The colours come up pretty well here and are generally nicely vibrant with a very nice saturation to them. There were no real hints of over saturation, although some scenes like the bar could be just on the border, depending upon your own setups. There is a nice tonal depth and tonal consistency to the colours. There are no colour bleed problems here.
There did not appear to be any significant MPEG artefacts in the transfer, other than the ghosting problem in the first section of the film. One of the big problems with the original release was the aliasing and I was quite certain that I would be concentrating on this point during the review session. Whilst it does not seem to be as bad as in the original release, there is no doubt that there remains plenty of aliasing to be found here. Just about every straight, sharp line, especially if involved in any sort of minor movement, demonstrates quite noticeable aliasing. Whilst it is not really ugly, it is certainly difficult to miss the problem. Prime examples can be found with respect of cars: 3:00, 3:14, 15:10, 47:47, 67:49 and 81:10, to indicate that it is throughout the film. There are some noticeable problems with shimmer in some of the suits worn, as well as plenty of suggestion of moiré artefacting such as at 68:19 and 69:01. Add into the mix some rather obvious film artefacts - there is a huge white one at 48:24 - and the conclusion is obvious: Pretty Woman she may be but the transfer isn't.
This is an RSDL formatted DVD with the layer change coming quite noticeably at 73:28. Now the fact that I usually have great difficulty noticing layer changes on the Denon DVD-1600 would indicate that if it is that noticeable to me, then some players are going to show the layer change quite horrendously. Which of course makes the choice for layer change point a very poor one. Just as the original release had a lousy change point for the flipper formatting, so this one does for the layer change. I still cannot understand why the layer change would not be hidden in the natural black scene change after the piano scene ends.
There are two subtitle options on the DVD, being English and French. I sampled the English efforts and they both seem to be very decent. There are however some obvious changes to the dialogue which are a little perplexing at times.
There were three soundtracks on the original Region 4 DVD, all in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded sound. This new release loses a soundtrack but gains Dolby Digital 5.1 formatting in English and French. I listened only to the English default soundtrack.
Dialogue is clear and easy to understand throughout. There is some slight variation in sound in the added footage for this Director's Cut, but it is unlikely to be too noticeable or too annoying for most people. There did sound like a slight glitch in the soundtrack at 81:12, but if it is it is not too serious. There did not appear to be any significant problem with audio sync problems with the transfer.
The musical score comes from James Newton Howard, and a suitably sweet, sappy effort it is too. It complements the film very well, but it is of course overshadowed by a great selection of popular songs that resulted in a great soundtrack album and lead to something of a rediscovery of the great Roy Orbison through the magnificent title song.
In the review of the earlier release I said that I really did not miss having a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack to the film. Now that we have the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, I find myself thoroughly agreeing with the original assessment. While the original Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack was serviceable and not a whole lot more, the lack of any great need for the additional channels is well demonstrated here. Sure there are occasions when the surround channels add some ambience and detail to the soundscape but overall it is nothing really terrific and certainly not to be confused with demonstration class stuff. The sound is not really open when it needs to be - such as in The Blue Banana - and the need for the higher bitrate is amply demonstrated at those moments.
|Surround Channel Use|
Another Special Edition that really is anything but!
Some audio and animation enhancement adds a bit of life to the main menu here, which actually looks quite decent. The menus are 16x9 enhanced, just to be perverse.
If it is a theatrical trailer why is in a Full Frame format? As a result of its Full Frame format this is not 16x9 enhanced and comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. It is showing its age really badly and features poor colour, really soft definition and little in the way of worthiness for viewing.
Featuring interview material from Garry Marshall, Richard Gere and Julia Roberts, there is nothing really inspiring here and it is simple way too short. Presented in a Full Frame format that is not 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.
A fairly typical example of the music video of the 1990's, with Natalie Cole doing a decent lip-synching effort. Presented in a Full Frame format that is not 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. Probably the highlight of the extras package, which gives you some indication of how special the extras package is not.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The equivalent release to this Region 4 effort was the 10th Anniversary edition released over three years ago. In comparison to that release the Region 4 release misses out on:
The Region 1 release misses out on nothing. Whilst both releases are not 16x9 enhanced, the decision would be heavily in favour of Region 1 as the audio commentary is by all accounts a good one.
Pretty Woman is an enjoyable film, although perhaps more a "chick flick" than a family film. Its reappearance on Region 4 DVD should have been welcomed with open arms but the continued lack of 16x9 enhancement is a serious impediment to add to the lack of the audio commentary. I would have thought that given the dollars that this film has made over the years, a complete restoration and new 16x9 telecine master would not be out of the question. The presentation is an improvement over the initial Region 4 release but this remains a poor second to the Region 1 release.
|DVD||Denon DVD-1600, using S-Video output|
|Display||Sony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL|