The Jewel of the Nile (1985)

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Released 14-Feb-2001

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1985
Running Time 101:35
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Lewis Teague
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Michael Douglas
Kathleen Turner
Danny DeVito
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $36.95 Music Jack Nitzsche


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Czech
Danish
English for the Hearing Impaired
Finnish
Hebrew
Hungarian
Icelandic
Norwegian
Polish
Portuguese
Swedish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes, minor
Action In or After Credits Yes

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

Plot Synopsis

    By any decent measure, The Jewel Of The Nile should never have been made. It is the unfortunate result of the Hollywood system that demands the creation of dollars in preference to true creative merit. Obviously, these comments are neither new nor original, and no doubt they'll end up in the great rubbish bin of posterity, but so be it. Just for the record, you may as well stop reading here, because everything that follows in this review is merely elaboration on this general theme.

    The Jewel Of The Nile (JOTN) is, of course, the sequel to a highly and deservedly successful 1984 film, Romancing The Stone (RTS). Rushed through production in response to that success and released the very next year, it lacks every (yes, every) worthwhile characteristic of its predecessor. I had the advantage of being able to sit down and view these two films over successive nights. I might as well have put on any other film at random, for all the similarities that exist between them. Most telling are the changes in characterizations that occur between the films. The success of RTS stems largely from the glow that emanates from the two leading characters, romance novelist Joan Wilder (Kathleen Turner) and fortune hunter Jack Colton (Michael Douglas). Each is a dreamer in their own way, seeking that spark of happiness that turns into love for each other. Their adventure together is essentially a fun romp.

    The first few moments of JOTN destroy any spark that ever existed in our heroes' characters. Rather, it turns out that six months of living together and sailing amongst all the beautiful places of the world has left each of them hardened and bitter. Gone is the warmth and innocence and, unfortunately, gone too is the fun.

    The story opens with Joan and Jack living aboard the "Angelina" (how many noticed that the pleasant-but-modest yacht featured at the end of RTS has now turned into a luscious Beneteau 45 footer?) anchored in some suitably magnificent Mediterranean harbour. Jack is clearly having fun in the sun, but Joan is fed up and regretting the whole thing. When she's offered the chance to leave Jack and write the biography of some two-bit warlord she accepts and flies off to North Africa to begin a new phase in her life. The small matter of a bomb left on board the "Angelina", intended to kill Jack, plus a story about "the Jewel of the Nile" proves too much temptation for him, and he and the resurfaced Ralph (Danny DeVito, who valiantly tries to maintain his high level of energy from before), head off to save Joan and get rich.

    We are quickly appraised of a couple of facts: firstly that Joan's new patron is not a freedom fighter but a power hungry nasty who expects to take over the world with half a dozen armoured personnel carriers and a single F16 jet fighter and, secondly, that the Jewel of the Nile is actually a weedy little religious/mystic man. The film rambles from scene to scene with the odd silly gimmick popping up from time to time. There are chases, as before, lots of gunshots and a set scene involving the F16 causing lots of havoc on the ground. All this leads fairly unimaginatively to the climax that features the war lord putting on a light and sound spectacular, trying his best to look like he's the "chosen one". Of course, Joan and Jack reconcile their differences just in time to save themselves and the Jewel.

    This film lacked the central creative team that made RTS what it was. Instead, we get childish direction, characterizations that lose the viewers' interest, and plot weaknesses that show through the rest of the film's inadequacies.

    By the way, I couldn't get over the number of jugglers that keep appearing all the way through the film. Someone must have made a huge mistake and ordered jugglers instead of tuna sandwiches, or something similar. Even in supposedly "serious" scenes we get these ridiculous guys juggling their flaming pins.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio and it is 16x9 enhanced.

    Picture clarity is acceptable throughout, although I felt that sharpness tended to vary. It is certainly not up to the same standard as that of its predecessor and at times is rather soft. Resolution of shadow detail is also of a lesser standard than before and becomes marginal in many darker scenes. Graininess seems to threaten on many occasions. Given that the two films are being released simultaneously with the same general specifications, I'd hazard a guess that the difference in picture quality goes back to the quality of the original film stock.

    Colours show through realistically without ever being vibrant. Skin tones are fine and natural.

    No compression artefacts are present at any stage. The slightly less sharp image would help in this regard. The source print was very clean and showed no scratches or other marks.

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

Audio

    There is a sole English soundtrack formatted in digital stereo with Dolby surround encoding. It is a pretty clean soundtrack, with no extraneous noises and no distortion of any type.

    Dialogue is perfectly clear at all times (not that that helps much when there's nothing intelligent being said). The slight audio balancing problem that existed in RTS, resulting in sometimes too soft dialogue, is not present with this disc.

    The musical score consists predominantly of fairly unimaginative music prepared on a synthesizer. Having been a devoted fan of the film music genre for most of my life, and loving the grand works of everyone from Korngold to the wonderful John Williams, I generally find this type of "one man and his keyboard" approach a pitiful excuse for film music (there are exceptions, of course). Obviously, I didn't find anything of interest in the music for this film.

    Use of the rear speakers is very limited, even for the purpose of generating suitable atmospheric feel. In fact the overall effect of the sound design is often quite flat, being limited only to the front soundstage. As with its predecessor, the subwoofer is silent throughout.

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

Extras

Theatrical Trailer

    Presented in full frame (4:3) format and Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. Running time is 1:30 minutes. The trailer is in reasonably poor condition. While it doesn't suffer unbearably from scratching or other film artefacts, it comes from a poor video copy that imbues it with lots of grain and excessive contrast. To compound the problems, the sound is flat and lifeless, meaning that the trailer could only ever have succeeded off the back of the first film's good reputation.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 4 version of the film appears to miss out on nothing.

   The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

    If you would like to own the film on DVD, obviously the choice of version is easy - go with R4 for the better PAL picture and 16x9 enhancement.

Summary

    If this film had come along on its own it probably would have died a very short death and never be heard about again. In the event, it trades on the goodwill and good memories generated by Romancing The Stone. Unfortunately, in my opinion, it has very little to offer in any capacity - it is rather just a poor quality formula driven product from the Hollywood studio industry. If you happen to like the film then this disc does it decent, not great, service.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Murray Glase (read my bio)
Friday, February 16, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba SD-K310, using S-Video output
DisplayPioneer SD-T43W1 (125cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-D906S
SpeakersRichter Wizard (front), Jamo SAT150 (rear), Yamaha YST-SW120 (subwoofer)

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