Vanilla Sky (2001)

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Released 12-Nov-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Romance Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-Prelude To A Dream
Featurette-Hitting It Hard
Audio Commentary-Cameron Crowe & Nancy Wilson
Interviews-Crew-An Interview With Paul McCartney
Music Video-Afrika Shox-Leftfield/Afrika Bambaataa
Gallery-Photo-with audio introduction by Neal Preston (8)
Easter Egg-Outtakes
Teaser Trailer-(unreleased)
Theatrical Trailer
DVD Credits
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 130:25 (Case: 138)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (82:21) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Cameron Crowe
Studio
Distributor

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Tom Cruise
Penelope Cruz
Cameron Diaz
Jason Lee
Kurt Russell
Noah Taylor
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music Nancy Wilson


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Czech Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Czech
Greek
English
Hebrew
Croatian
Portuguese
Slovenian
English Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

     Some of Cameron Crowe's films (Say Anything, Jerry Maguire, and Almost Famous) are amongst my all-time favourites. I was therefore highly expectant of his latest film Vanilla Sky when it was released earlier this year. Like many cinema-goers, I was quite surprised with what I saw...

    To borrow a well-known phrase from television's Rove McManus, What The...?  This is exactly what I was thinking after my first viewing of Vanilla Sky, a Hollywood version of the 1997 Spanish film Abre Los Ojos (Open Your Eyes). I have yet to see the Spanish film by Alejandro Amenábar so can't make any direct comparison, but if it's anywhere near as mind-boggling and brain-stretching as this, I may have to wait a while before having a look. This film is an exhausting experience. Even after now seeing this three times, there are still many questions that remain unanswered.

    Tom Cruise plays David Aames, a young, good-looking, brash, confident ladies man who owns the controlling stake in a successful publishing house. He has owned the company since his father died, and he now spends his time keeping the board of directors off his back, in between enjoying the playboy lifestyle with fast cars, flash apartments, every toy available, and whatever woman he wants. He has a friend in Julie Gianni (Cameron Diaz), who he basically uses for sex and little else, and commitment is not in his vocabulary. David throws a party in his lavish apartment and it is here that he meets the mysterious yet beautiful Sofia Serrano (Penelope Cruz), who comes along as the date of David's best mate Brian (Jason Lee). David and Sofia have an instant attraction to each other, and end up spending the night together (no sex though). When leaving Sofia's apartment the next day, a somewhat changed David runs into the ever-present Julie who, after cajoling him into getting into her car, proceeds to chastise him about his lack of commitment and expresses her true love for him. She becomes a little more than agitated and promptly drives her car off a bridge, killing herself and leaving David in a coma with horrendous facial disfigurement. When he wakes, his life has been turned on its head and, well...reality might not be really be reality, but for the sake of spoiling something that probably really should be spoiled to aid in the understanding of this movie, I won't. Just remember to keep watching and don't wander off to make a cuppa or anything for a few minutes, lest you miss something important. And definitely don't fall asleep and start dreaming, as you will definitely miss everything...

    This film has Cameron Crowe stamped all over it. The many and varied references to pop culture, classic albums, songs, and moments in rock and social history are scattered throughout like pieces in a large jigsaw puzzle that need to be picked up and sorted out before being put together. It's a tough film to watch, as you will have many things rolling around in your head as you try to get a grip of exactly what plane of reality the story is currently on. This is probably the reason it did not perform so well at the box office. Mainstream moviegoers who would have been expecting a romantic drama of a similar ilk to Jerry Maguire would have left the cinema wanting their money back. Faults and complexity aside, it is still very pleasing visually to the eye to watch and the early scenes of New York City and an empty Times Square are stunning, so persevere, watch it a couple of times, and think about what it is saying.

    The tagline for this film was LoveHateDreamLifeWorkPlayFriendshipSex. I think we should amend that to ConfusionThinkThinkAgainWhatThe...?

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This is perhaps the best Paramount title that I have yet seen in terms of video transfer quality. It is of near reference quality.

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, this transfer is also 16x9 enhanced.

    Nice even sharpness is evident throughout with only a little edge enhancement scattered here and there. There are no problems at all with shadow detail. Grain is barely an issue except for a couple of minor instances and low level noise is absent. The colours on offer are very well saturated with even skin tones and solid black levels. The closing scenes in particular exhibit some wild shades of blue and gold and come across very well indeed.

    There are no MPEG artefacts. Film to video artefacts are limited to a couple of minor and trivial cases of aliasing with the most notable example at 26:23 on the CD rack in Sofia's apartment. Film artefacts are also extremely limited, with only a tiny handful of small spots.

    There are several subtitle tracks to pick from. I watched the film the second time through with the English variety turned on and found them not word perfect, but pretty accurate nonetheless.

    This is a dual layered disc with RSDL formatting. The layer change occurs at 82:21 and is pretty much spot on, being barely noticeable.

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

Audio

    Like the video, the audio quality is superb with no problems to report. There are three audio tracks available on this disc. The English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is joined by a Czech Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and an English Commentary track in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround. There is excellent separation and panning across the front speakers, with the various songs in particular making the most of the bigger left and right front mains.

    Dialogue is excellent and there are no audio sync problems.

    Fans of any Cameron Crowe film will know he places strong emphasis on the music, and the songs played in particular. Crowe's wife, Nancy Wilson (of Heart fame), was responsible for the score, and I have got to say I really liked it. The music during the scenes of Tom Cruise running through Times Square is particularly impressive. The songs read like a who's who of Rolling Stone magazine, with the likes of REM, Underworld, Jeff Buckley, Peter Gabriel, Radiohead, The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, Todd Rundgren, and of course Sir Paul McCartney performing the title track.

    There is quite plentiful surround channel use, with lots of the music, party, and club scenes in particular being pumped through the rears. The subwoofer has a couple of crashes to make the most of and lends a decent hand to the music without going over the top and drawing attention to itself.

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

Extras

    A decent selection of extras, with really neat menu transitions, have been provided. The only thing I would have liked to have seen that is absent is a more substantial and in-depth discussion piece highlighting what messages the film is portraying.

Main Menu Introduction

Menu Animation & Audio

    The menu animations for all the menus are among the nicest I have yet seen. Hand-drawn picture frames with really funky transitions between the screens are original without being annoying.

Featurette - Prelude to A Dream

    Running for 6:12 minutes, this is a sort of introductory piece to the film, narrated by Cameron Crowe who explains some of the themes in the film and telling of his experiences in its genesis, casting, production, and promotion. Presented full screen and with audio supplied by a Dolby Digital Surround 2.0 soundtrack.

Featurette - Hitting It Hard

    Running for 10:04 minutes, this small featurette made by Vinyl Films (Cameron Crowe's production company), shows the press tour procession that directors and stars undertake when promoting their wares. It is real fly-on-the-wall stuff and really does give you a great insight into just what they go through when jetting all round the world and the adulation and mob hysteria that greets Tom Cruise wherever he goes. Well worth a look.

Audio Commentary

    Now this features something new - a director's commentary complete with live musical accompaniment. The music is provided by Crowe's wife Nancy Wilson, who also provides some commentary input. Moreover, this is perhaps the most relaxed and informal commentary track that I have ever listened to. We listen to Crowe phoning some other cast members during the commentary, including Tom Cruise (at around the 60 minute mark) who chats for around eight minutes about the film. Crowe's children also run in early on and provide an incessant chatter in the background. On the down side, Crowe does tend to get stuck in the "I really love this shot - this is my favourite shot" rut. On the up side, this commentary will at least help explain what Crowe was intending when he made this movie and you'll also learn several of the clues that appear throughout. I recommend having a listen to this just after watching the film through for the first time. I slept much better once I had some idea of what was going on!

Interviews-Crew

    An all-too-brief and somewhat pointless interview (from Entertainment Tonight based on the logo on the screen) with Sir Paul McCartney that runs for only 1:34 minutes. He quickly discusses his writing and recording of the title song for the film. Presented full screen 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.

Music Video

    This is the music video to Afrika Shox by Leftfield/Afrika Bambaataa. Total running time is 3:58 minutes with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. The video almost mirrors the film with a wild array of quickly flashed-up images and a series of near-psychedelic swirls and the like.

Gallery-Photo

    This is one of the better, if not the best, photo galleries I have seen. The photos are divided into 8 galleries with between 15 and 60 photos in each (there are 255 photos in total). We get an audio introduction from the film's photographer, Neal Preston. Running for a couple of minutes, he discusses the brief that Cameron Crowe issued him with and the relative free reign he enjoyed while gaining access to most areas to take photos. The actual photos themselves are excellent, all being 16x9 enhanced with the landscape orientated ones in particular taking up almost the entire screen. The galleries cover all aspects of the film and include art and portrait style shots in addition to many behind-the-scenes photos. Highly recommended.

Easter Egg

    Running for 5:28 minutes, this Easter Egg is a series of out-takes and the like, though they are not simply thrown together in a jumbled order. I won't spoil the surprise of where to find this one, as I may lose face if I did.

Teaser Trailer

    This is the supposedly unreleased teaser trailer and runs for 1:30 minutes. It is presented in an aspect of 1.78:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced. Really does make the story appear like a simple romantic drama.

Theatrical Trailer

    This is the full international theatrical trailer. It runs for 2:40 minutes and is also presented in an aspect of 1.78:1. It is also not 16x9 enhanced. Both trailers appear with a full Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

DVD Credits

    Simply a few pages showing all the people that worked on the DVD and the various extras contained therein.

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 this DVD misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this DVD misses out on;

    I have looked at both versions and there is really not a lot separating them. The picture quality of the Region 1 disc is basically the same, other than being an NTSC transfer obviously. I'll call this one a draw, but lean in favour of the local product due to superior PAL formatting.

Summary

    There really is a lot to like about this film. It looks great and it will leave an indelible impression on your brain that will have you thinking about it many days after viewing. I have found myself pondering about the meaning of this film all week. I'm a little closer, by the way, and at least my brain is getting an active workout.

    The video quality is excellent, with few problems to report. A little edge enhancement, but barely noticeable.

    The audio is also very, very good. A wide variety of songs, and a real catchy and interesting score.

    The extras are numerous and are mostly of substance. The commentary track has some unique qualities that lift it above the average. Together with some rather nice menus, we have both quality and a decent package.

    Recommended, even if only to get the old grey matter ticking over.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Friday, June 21, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDLoewe Xemix 5006DD, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

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Comments (Add)
Terminator 2 DVD new edition - Kakio (This is my biography)
Re: T2 - Dr Hackenbush
RE: Re: T2 (Vanilla Sky) - Dr Hackenbush = sorry! -
"The Primal Katie" - Christopher
Maybe not so much - Bran (my bio, or something very like it)
Someone beat me to it. - Christopher