Wall Street: Special Edition (1987)

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Released 14-Feb-2001

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Featurette-Making Of-(45:41)
Audio Commentary-Oliver Stone (Director)
Theatrical Trailer-2
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1987
Running Time 120:34
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (50:03) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Oliver Stone
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Michael Douglas
Charlie Sheen
Daryl Hannah
Martin Sheen
Hal Holsbrook
Terence Stamp
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $36.95 Music Stewart Copeland


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (96Kb/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 Czech
Danish
English
Finnish
Hebrew
Hungarian
Icelandic
Norwegian
Polish
Portuguese
Swedish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Wall Street. The genesis of so many lines that in the 80s entered the popular vernacular: "Greed is good", "Money never sleeps", "Lunch is for wimps". Most of these lines come from one of the most aptly named characters in cinematic history, Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas). But Wall Street is not his story: it is the story of a young wanna-be stockbroker, Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen), trying to break out of his working-class background, and despite the concerns of his mechanic father (Martin Sheen), he's willing to do anything to get there.

    Little more than a glorified telemarketer, Bud has set his sets on something better. If he can get his foot in the door of the mega-dealer Gekko, he believes that he has got what it takes to make it big. After calling him for 39 days straight, on the fortieth day, Gekko's birthday, he turns up with a box of Cuban cigars: Gekko grants him an audience, and seeing something in Bud that reminds him of his own background, takes him on as a protégé. Thus starts a rollercoaster ride for Bud, with women (Daryl Hannah), drugs, and all of the pleasures that money can buy. But does he have the bottle to take the good with doing the bad? And for how long can he ignore his conscience, voiced by the concerns of his father.

    Playing as a morality tale, Wall Street is not subtle, and often a little cheesy, but some of the dialogue is spot-on for the world that has been created. Oliver Stone's camera roams around and after the characters, getting into their space, and this generates a pace that is matched by some of the frantic scenes on the stock exchange floor and in the offices of the brokers. Although there are some complex financial dealings taking place, Stone never allows the details to become confusing, allowing the viewer to be as swept up in the action as Bud is. Love him or hate him, he is a director that always challenges the norms, and although there are plenty of flaws, there is still some genius there.

    Whatever the skill exercised by the director, though, it would have been nothing without the Oscar-winning performance of Michael Douglas as the slimy, evil Gekko. He commands every scene that he is in, as no doubt his character was supposed to command every room that he entered, and any images that remain of the movie in my mind feature him. On the flip-side, though, is an absolutely terrible performance from the hopelessly miscast Daryl Hannah - the less said here the better. Breaking even is Charlie Sheen, who sometimes manages to hit the right notes, but he really doesn't have the range to fully pull off the role. The Sheen name, though, is saved by Martin, who makes the best of a small role. Terence Stamp also makes something of an impressive reappearance as Gekko's nemesis, and is cool and calm in counterpoint to Michael Douglas' heat and anger.

    Despite appearing to be almost painfully dated, Wall Street held up to revisiting reasonably well, and as a landmark film of its time, deserves to be recognized as such, even if its time wasn't necessarily something that you wish to revisit.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with 16x9 enhancement. It was quite disappointing to see that there was apparently no real work done to it to bring it up to a standard befitting of this release - this is a transfer riddled with problems.

    The picture is reasonably soft, but contains an acceptable amount of detail. Similarly, shadow detail is acceptable, without reaching any great heights. The big problem, though, is grain, which is almost constant throughout the feature in the backgrounds. Even the 20th Century Fox logo at the outset is extremely grainy, and there is worse to follow, namely at (and I've only recounted the worst instances) 6:10 - 7:00, 9:00 to 12:50, 38:08 to 39:02, and 47:26 to 52:16. Thankfully, there was no low level noise to speak of, unless it was hidden by the grain.

    The colour palette was reasonably well represented, although it seemed to be a little faded with age. The director favoured an orange hue throughout most of the scenes featuring natural light, giving the impression that the scenes were taking place in the late afternoon, with the light being filtered by the New York smog line. Occasionally, other colours would take precedence, such as blue, but in the main, oranges and browns were it, almost giving the movie a sepia-like feel. Vibrant colours weren't really seen at all, despite some of the garish 80s fashions on show.

    Aliasing appeared reasonably regularly on almost anything that could be expected to produce it: from 7:05 to 8:22 on Bud's pin stripe shirt, at 8:45 on some power lines, at 14:27, 25:24, 54:11, 70:33 and 96:38 on some blinds, at 36:50 on a car, at 113:41 on some roof shingles, and finally at 115:26 on some steps. There was also a moiré effect on a set of steel elevator doors. Instances of pixelization appeared to be apparent as well, however, most of the instances I suspected were during some fairly grainy scenes. Make up your own mind by having a look at 10:30, 50:38, and 115:40 until the closing credits. Also something of a major problem were film artefacts, which appeared in all shapes, sizes and colours throughout, and were in the nature of dust, nicks and scratches, sometimes of alarming proportions. Another phenomenon that I noticed was what appeared to be a vertical jitter in the frame. This occurred at 94:25 to 94:32, and then again at 109:20.

   This disc is RSDL formatted, with the layer change coming between Chapters 7 and 8 at 50:03. It occurs between scenes, and would have been totally unobtrusive but for the short interruption to the audio.

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

Audio

    I listened to the default Dolby Digital 5.1 track, remixed from the original Dolby Stereo, although not too much seems to have been added. There is also a Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded commentary track, discussed further under Extras.

    Although the dialogue was always reasonably easy to understand, there were a few inexplicable occasions where volume was variable: either a quiet spot would happen in the middle of a sentence, or alternatively one or two words would jump out at higher volume. These events occurred at 19:05, 36:36, and 61:35. Also, on a couple of occasions bits of dialogue would hit distortion levels, even though they weren't that loud. The most notable example of this was at 70:01.

    Although I was on many occasions suspicious of audio sync problems, I never quite did catch any specific problems, despite going over a few scenes a number of times, so in that case I have to say that it was OK.

    The score was provided by Stewart Copeland, former drummer for The Police. There were occasional orchestral sweeps, but in the main, synthesized percussion was the order of the day. A number of songs were also performed by David Byrne of Talking Heads fame, a couple of which were produced in association with Brian Eno.

    The surrounds were really hardly used, with the soundtrack, as noted above, sounding a lot like the original stereo mix. There was the occasional action in the way of the ambience associated with the buzzing stock exchange, and a little in scenes set out in busy streets, however when the surrounds were noticed, they never really sounded like anything more than I imagine that they would from a Pro-logic mix. Directional effects were rare at best.

    The subwoofer was rarely called into action other than to provide some support to the lower end of the music, as well as for the occasional effect such as a thunder clap.

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

Extras

    Not a huge stack of extras, however the quality sneaks this release into the self-proclaimed Special Edition arena.

Menu

    The menu features 16x9 enhancement, however it is static and silent, featuring a shot of the two leads.

Director's Commentary - Oliver Stone

    The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0, surround-encoded. There are some lengthy pauses in the comments, however, Stone provides a fascinating look into his career at the time, as well as various interesting facts concerning and surrounding the movie itself. The topics that he covers range from enjoying the movie itself, to production information, to discussions of the careers of the actors. It was obviously recorded recently, as he makes some comments about Any Given Sunday. Pleasingly, the lapse of time since the movie's release appears to mean that he doesn't have to pull any punches opinion-wise, even as far as being critical of some of the performances and parts of the movie itself, however towards the end, he lapses into pointing out various actors playing minor characters.

Documentary (45:41)

    This extra is presented at 1.33:1 (with clips from the movie at 1.85:1) with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. Made in 2000, it is an excellent retrospective, containing interviews with the director, Charlie Sheen and Martin Sheen, who discuss some of the more interesting aspects of the themes of the movie, as well as what it was like for the Sheens to work as father and son playing father and son. But Charlie Sheen... what a w***er! There is also a little production footage, and somewhat perversely, the clips from the movie here look better than the feature on the DVD.

Theatrical Trailer A (1:25)

    Presented at 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, this brief trailer features an image that is very soft and diffuse - even more so than the feature. It has that annoying 80s habit where the voiceover is often a dialogue with the excerpts from the movie presented.

Theatrical Trailer B (2:17)

    Almost identical to the above trailer, only a little longer.

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 disc misses out on;     The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;     As both versions of the DVD seem to be identically featured, and the better bit rate of the Region 1 release would add little to the viewing experience, I prefer the Region 4 release in light of the likely superiority of the PAL transfer over the NTSC Region 1 counterpart.

Summary

    Wall Street is a somewhat dated movie about a crazy, roller-coaster ride of a time in history. An excellent performance from Michael Douglas, good direction, and the film's value as something of a historical document of the feeling of the time (an Oliver Stone speciality) elevates it to something more than just the sum of its parts. A very disappointing video transfer and an audio transfer that is not without its problems do little justice to the movie and the excellent extras package provided with this Special Edition.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Anthony Curulli (read my bio)
Wednesday, February 16, 2000
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 2109, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-D608
SpeakersFront: Yamaha NS10M, Rear: Wharfedale Diamond 7.1, Center: Wharfedale Sapphire, Sub: Aaron 120W

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