Bad Girls (1994)

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Released 22-Oct-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Western None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1994
Running Time 96:04
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (53:57) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Jonathan Kaplan
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Madeleine Stowe
Mary Stuart Masterson
Andie MacDowell
Drew Barrymore
James Russo
Robert Loggia
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $24.95 Music Jerry Goldsmith


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.0 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Hungarian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Polish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Danish
Dutch
English for the Hearing Impaired
Finnish
French
German
Hungarian
Italian
Norwegian
Portuguese
Spanish
Swedish
Turkish
French Titling
German Titling
Hungarian Titling
Italian Titling
Spanish Titling
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, during credits

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Bad Girls is another of those films that seems to cop a pasting from critics that I find quite enjoyable. I find it a film that is rather difficult not to like, which would put me in a serious minority amongst critics and reviewers. But what is not to like about the film? A bit of fluffy entertainment, with some very attractive women to make a serious dent in the eye candy department, with just a hint of nudity to add to the equation, and some different takes on some obvious Hollywood Western clichés. Truth be told, this film is very much within the idiom of the B-grade matinee Westerns of the past and should be celebrated as such. I personally think that too many critics in particular have looked for too many deep and meaningful insights from the film, which of course it is seriously wanting in. This is pure, simple entertainment and has to be seen in that light.

    When you do, you can enjoy the film. If you want to search for deep, meaningful content then you really are barking up the wrong tree here.

    The simple tale, which basically takes the male clichés of westerns and turns them 180 degrees to female roles, starts in Echo City where Cody Zamora (Madeleine Stowe) runs a house of pleasure, with several friends as the providers of the pleasure - Anita Crown (Mary Stuart Masterson), Lilly Laronette (Drew Barrymore) and Eileen Spenser (Andie MacDowell). Naturally, the righteous minority are not too enamoured with the existence of this house of pleasure and when Cody kills a prominent citizen when he gets a little too frisky with Anita, they take it as an opportunity to completely ignore the Bible and lynch the poor woman. Since the film would be very short if that were to be the end of the star, Cody is naturally enough rescued from the noose by her friends and they head out of town as fast as they can. With little idea of where they are going and what they are going to do, they end up deciding to go to Oregon to start a sawmill on some land that Anita supposedly has title to. To get to Oregon and set up the sawmill they need money, so they head to some two-bit border town deep in the south of Texas where Cody, acting all respectable like, makes a withdrawal of the funds she has been setting aside all those years. Along the way they meet a mysterious loner in Joshua McCoy (Dermot Mulroney) who gives them some fair warning of the detectives hunting them down (and makes eyes for Cody).

    Unfortunately at the same time as Cody is making her legal withdrawal, an old flame in Kid Jarrett (James Russo) is making an illegal withdrawal and takes off with her money. In the mayhem after the robbery, Eileen gets arrested and imprisoned under the watchful eye of deputised farmer William Tucker (James LeGros), who is soon bewitched. One thing leads to another and Cody ends up going after the Kid, to her misfortune. Things don't seem to get much better and Lilly soon finds herself in manure too. Cue the obligatory high noon shoot-up between the four ladies and the Jarrett gang.

   I know - it is not that much of a story. But last time I looked, half of John Wayne's films don't have much of a story either. Who needs a story? We get a bit of action, a bit of romance, some nice cinematography, some attractive women in various states of undress and some bad guys getting their comeuppance. Call me stupid (and most people do anyway) but it adds up to some mindless entertainment. This is just a modern version, with role reversal, of all those B-grade matinee films I spent my misspent youth watching on television. I like it! Besides, I always enjoy Madeleine Stowe, regrettably only on film though, so I am not exactly unbiased here anyway.

    I think it is a worthwhile film to check out, admittedly more so if the price point was somewhat less than indicated above, but that probably puts me in a small minority. However, give the film a chance - it does not proclaim to be high cinema and it is presented on a pretty decent DVD.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film was originally presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 so it is good that the video transfer is so presented, as well as being 16x9 enhanced.

    I confess to having some trepidation when approaching this review session, as the general view of the film and the rather lacklustre approach to the issue from the distributor left me with the feeling that I was about to indulge in something rather poor. I need not have worried as, aside from some generally minor issues, this is a pretty good transfer. The main issue is a degree of inconsistency in the sharpness, with a noticeable drop to a soft look at certain times. I am assuming that this is inherent in the way the film was shot and therefore cannot be blamed on the mastering process. Aside from those lapses, this is otherwise a sharp, well detailed transfer. Clarity is just about spot on with virtually nothing in the way of grain to be found. Shadow detail could perhaps have been better at times, but overall was better than average.

    The colours are very well handled indeed, with a vibrancy at times that was certainly unexpected. There are not a whole lot of bright primary colours here, with an obvious tendency towards earthier tones, but certainly the result is very natural and totally believable. Tones are well handled and consistently so, with only a modest complaint regarding the depth of the blacks. Oversaturation is not an issue and colour bleed is absent from the transfer.

    There is a nothing really significant in the way of MPEG artefacting in the transfer. There is a minor amount of aliasing in the transfer, such as in the hat at 55:16 and the wagon at 61:55, but overall this was hardly noticeable and certainly was not at all disturbing. Otherwise there were no film-to-video artefacts in the transfer. I did not notice any significant film artefacts in the transfer, which again was better than I was expecting. Most of what was to be found were small specks that are not unreasonable given that the source material is ten years old.

    This is an RSDL formatted DVD with the layer change coming at 53:57. I did not really notice it during playback of the film, so it must be quite a reasonable one.

    There is another decent selection of selectable subtitle options on the disc. I stuck with the English for the Hearing Impaired efforts, which are pretty good with only modest amounts of dialogue dropped here and there.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There is a fairly eclectic mix of soundtrack options available on the DVD. Contrary to what you might read elsewhere, the English soundtrack is a five channel Dolby Digital 5.0 448 Kb/s soundtrack, albeit a rather good one. The other options are a French Dolby Digital 5.1 384 Kb/s soundtrack, a German Dolby Digital 5.1 384 Kb/s soundtrack, a Hungarian Dolby Digital 2.0 192 Kb/s surround encoded soundtrack, an Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 384 Kb/s soundtrack, a Polish Dolby Digital 2.0 192 Kb/s surround encoded soundtrack and a Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 384 Kb/s soundtrack. Quite why the English soundtrack is five channel and the other efforts are six channel defies logic but... I naturally enough listened to only the English soundtrack.

    The dialogue comes up well in the transfer and it is easy enough to understand, within the parameters of some of the accents. There is nothing obviously wrong with the audio sync in the transfer.

    The ever reliable, and generally very good, Jerry Goldsmith is responsible for the score and it is indeed a rather nice one. Not an absolute classic, and at times it seems to go walkabout just a little, but it certainly has some memorable moments.

    The Dolby Digital 5.0 soundtrack is really quite an excellent effort, even if it is lacking the low frequency channel. You would not know it was missing generally, so well has the bass information been incorporated into the surround channels. Probably the best example of the excellence that the soundtrack can demonstrate is during the explosions around 75:00. Aside from some excellent bass information, the rear surrounds in particular have a gorgeous encompassing feel with bits whizzing into oblivion. When the five channel sound is this good, there is a strong argument against six channel soundtracks! Even during sequences without any major dynamic, the sound is really very clear, very open and rather nice sounding. The score in particular is very well carried during these sequences. There really is nothing to complain about here at all.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Once again an astounding lack of anything apart from a rather perfunctory menu.

Menu

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The film has yet to be released in Region 1, although an extended version is due out on 1st February, 2005. Details are somewhat sketchy, but the old laserdisc release of the film was of an extended version of the film and ran 100 minutes - equivalent to around 96 minutes in PAL format, so presumably the version we have here is the extended version and will be the same as the Region 1 release. Interestingly, that laserdisc release had an extra in the form of a featurette - How the Bad Girls Conquered the West.

    I am guessing that the Region 2 releases will be similar to the Region 4, although I have not seen any English reviews of the Region 2 (UK) release yet and cannot understand the review for the Region 2 (Dutch) release. However, taking a stab at translation, the summary of the DVD would indicate that it is the same DVD as what we have in Region 4. In the absence of any overwhelming information one way or the other, this one is even until proven otherwise.

Summary

    To my mind Bad Girls has copped more than its fair share of flak. Sure it is no classic, some of the acting leaves a little to be desired and the story is best described as mediocre, but to my mind there are too many that forget that films are for entertainment. This is certainly a film that I find entertaining on a hot Sunday afternoon: nothing cerebral but enjoyable fluff with a decent eye candy rating. Of course, those who have never watched the film will simply not bother to check it out to see whether it does justify the panning that the critics gave it. Afforded a fine audio transfer, it would perhaps have helped if the video transfer was a bit better, but most of the problems are inherent in the source material rather than introduced by the mastering process.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Tuesday, December 21, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-1600, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Aconda 9381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

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Comments (Add)
Much better than made out... -