Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Re-Creating Old Hollywood
Featurette-Behind The Headlines
Featurette-Hollywood Then and Now
|Year Of Production||2006|
|Running Time||121:02 (Case: 126)|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (73:42)||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Language Select Then Menu|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Allen Coulter|
Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Brad William Henke
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Polish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Czech Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Hungarian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
All the fame and glory that has come to the actors that have played Superman hasn't managed to bring them a lot of luck. Not only have the actors been typecast, but they've suffered grisly and rather premature fates. In relatively recent years, we have seen the tragic end of Christopher Reeve. Years before him, a similarly tragic end came to the original Man of Steel, George Reeves. Hollywoodland is a rather moving examination of his mysterious downfall.
The film is told in two narratives; One from the perspective of a private investigator looking into Reeves' death after the fact (and what seems to be a police cover-up), the other from the perspective of Reeves himself as the film examines Reeves personal life in the years leading up to his demise.
Louis Simo (Adrien Brody), a media hungry private investigator (and one of the few purely fictional characters in the film), is hired by Reeves' mother Helen Bessolo to investigate her son's alleged suicide. Though rather estranged from her son in his later days, Bessolo is convinced her son would not simply take his own life and Simo is happy to generate a media circus as he investigates the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death as well as the sordid details of Reeves private life. The people at the scene of the crime had waited more than 45 minutes after the alleged suicide before alerting the authorities, which initially provides Simo with perfect bait for the reporters. Throughout the course of the investigation, Simo makes a personal connection to the death as he realises just how much the fall of a hero has affected Superman's legions of fans, including his young son.
George Reeves had a tough time breaking into Hollywood. After dozens of minor roles under studio contracts with Paramount and Warner Brothers throughout the 1940s, George Reeves had always been one step away from stardom but never broke through. He began a lengthy affair with Toni Maddox (played by a seductive Diane Lane), the wife of MGM studio head Eddie Maddox (a fiery Bob Hoskins), who was near a decade older than Reeves. Rather than be furious at the affair, Eddie encouraged it for as long as it made his wife happy and afforded him a string of his own mistresses. Toni had treated Reeves as her toy-boy from the outset, even buying him the house in which he died. It was Toni that encourage Reeves to take the role of Superman, despite his fears that he would be typecast by the shallow role. Over the years he battled depression arising from his typecasting and inability to find other roles (interestingly, he never starred in an MGM picture despite his connections). Reeves had ended his affair with Toni and gotten engaged to reputed gold-digger Leonore Lemmon (Robin Tunney) not long before his death and neither of the Maddoxes had taken it well. This sordid and somewhat tormented personal life provided a plethora of suspects to murder, but none the police were willing to bring down without firm evidence.
The acting in Hollywoodland is first rate all-around. Enough so to make the film memorable even if it did not tell a story as involving as it does. Somewhat surprisingly, the highlight by far is Ben Affleck. Affleck captures the personality, the charm and the turmoil of George Reeves perfectly in what seems to be an effortless performance. True to the curse of Superman, it is tragic that Affleck had virtually destroyed his career with such clunkers as Gigli, Surviving Christmas and Jersey Girl before he was able to bring out the performance of his career in Hollywoodland. Affleck's track record prior to Hollywoodland probably cost the film any chance it would have had at commercial success, but his brilliant performance deserves to carry the film to cult success in the long run.
Hollywoodland is a welcome change from the usual Hollywood bio-pic formula. It presents all kinds of angles to the mysterious death and the roller-coaster life of George Reeves. Rather than leading the audience to a particular conclusion about the murder, or the man himself, the film dramatises the facts and lays a case open for viewers to draw their own conclusions. Rarely does a bio-pic seem as unbiased or factual as Hollywoodland.
An interesting explanation of the fact vs. fiction of Hollywoodland can be found here.
The film is presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio and is 16x9 enhanced.
The video looks good, even for a recent film. The image is sharp and only a fine level of film grain is noticeable. Dark colours and shadows have a good level of detail to them.
The film employs a lot of soft colour filters to evoke a noir look to the film, which befits the story. These subtle colour warps have made a good transition to DVD and maintain the theatrical look of the film.
There are no signs of distracting MPEG related artefacts or noticeable film artefacts at any point in the film.
Both standard English subtitles and English subtitles for the hearing impaired are supplied. These tracks appear to be quite accurate, based on the short portion of them that I sampled.
This is a RSDL disc. The layer break occurs at 73:42 but was not noticeable on my equipment.
Quite an assortment of soundtracks are available. There are English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384 Kbps), French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384 Kbps), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384 Kbps), Polish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192 Kbps), Czech Dolby Digital 2.0 (192 Kbps), and Hungarian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192 Kbps) soundtracks available.
Despite a relatively low bitrate, the English soundtrack is well and truly up to task. The dialogue is a tad softly spoken (though this is for style more than anything) but perfectly understandable. The audio appears to be well synchronized throughout.
The music in the film is fairly sparse and minimal, but this fits the noir edge to the movie. What music there is comes out well in the soundtrack.
The surrounds get used to good effect for environmental audio, but nothing out of the ordinary. Similarly, there isn't much in the way of subwoofer use beyond some supporting bottom end. Hollywoodland isn't the sort of feature you would expect much from sonically, so what there is in the audio department is perfectly good.
|Surround Channel Use|
A high quality and fairly stylish animation precedes the menus, which feature a cut from the score.
One thing that Hollywoodland manages to do very well, particularly given its relatively modest budget, is capture the look and style of Hollywood in the late 1950s. This featurette provides a fairly shallow look at how this was achieved through sets and costumes. It is worth a look, but not something worth watching twice
This featurette looks at the characters of Reeves and Simo and the relationship between them. Though both characters are male leads in the film, their stories are set in different periods of time and the characters never meet. Simo does form an empathic bond with the late Reeves throughout the course of his investigation. If you've seen the film, there isn't really a lot of point watching this featurette as it really adds up to little more than a cheat sheet for high school students studying the film.
A look at Hollywood, in particular MGM, in the late 1950s to early 1960s and comparison to the modern age. There is a particular focus on the culture of cover ups in the days of old versus today's paparazzi madness. This featurette is rather interesting, certainly the best on this disc, but it is too short by half and doesn't really break any new ground.
A handful of rather dull deleted scenes, all involving Adrien Brody's Simo character rather than Affleck's Reeves. No context or commentary is provided, making these a fairly random collection of trimmed fat.
The Region 1 edition features all of the extras featured on the Region 4 edition as well as an additional Audio Commentary with Director Allen Coulter.
The Region 4 edition features several additional language tracks to the Region 1 edition. Specifically:
There is also a much wider assortment of subtitles available on the Region 4 edition, as the Region 1 edition only has English, French and Spanish subtitles.
For English speakers, the version of choice is the Region 1 edition for the additional commentary, but it is a close race.
There is also a HD DVD edition, that features the same extras as the Region 1 edition, available in the USA and a Blu-ray edition due for release in Australia on 18 July 2007.
Hollywoodland is an intriguing drama come thriller that burrows deeply into the mystery and conspiracies surrounding the death of George Reeves, the original Superman. A powerhouse performance from Ben Affleck pulls the film together into a dramatic gem (and that's something I never thought I would write).
The handful of extras are OK, but nothing worth visiting more than once. The video is excellent. The audio is very good despite a low bitrate.
|DVD||Sony Playstation 3, using S-Video output|
|Display||Samsung 116cm LA46M81BD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).|
|Audio Decoder||Pioneer VSX-D512. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||150W DTX front speakers, and a 100W centre and 2 surrounds, 12 inch PSB Image 6i powered sub|