Jump to content



Sign up for a free account to remove the pop-up ads

Signing up for an account is fast and free. As a member you can join in the conversation, enter contests and remove the pop-up ads that guests get. Click here to create your free account.

Photo
Blu-ray Reviews

Fast Times At Ridgemont High Blu-ray Review



This topic has been archived. This means that you cannot reply to this topic.
18 replies to this topic

#1 of 19 OFFLINE   Kevin EK

Kevin EK

    Screenwriter



  • 2,784 posts
  • Join Date: May 09 2003

Posted August 12 2011 - 12:14 PM

Fast Times At Ridgemont High is the 1982 answer to American Graffiti.  It’s an ensemble teen comedy that touches on deeper issues, and which serves as a kind of time capsule to the period in which it was made.  Seen today, the movie still holds up as entertaining and truthful, even if the fashions and music are a bit dated.  The new Blu-ray unfortunately does not have anything close to the “perfect picture” advertised on the packaging.  However, the sound is good, and most of the extras are the better ones ported over from the earlier DVD editions.


http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/FAST TIMES

AT RIDGEMONT HIGH


Studio: Universal/Refugee Films

Year: 1982

Length:  1 hr 30 mins

Genre:  Teen Comedy/High School/1980s


Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

BD Resolution and Codec: 1080p, VC-1 (@ an average 33 mbps)

Audio:  English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (@ an average 2.7 mbps)

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French


Film Rating: R (Nudity, Sex, Language, Drug Use, Disrespect of Mr. Hand)

Release Date: August 9, 2011


Starring:  Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judge Reinhold, Phoebe Cates, Brian Backer, Robert Romanus and Ray Walston, with appearances by Forest Whitaker, Eric Stoltz, Anthony Edwards and Nicolas Coppola


Screenplay by:  Cameron Crowe

Based on the Book by:  Cameron Crowe

Directed by:  Amy Heckerling


Film Rating:    4/5


Fast Times At Ridgemont High is one of those movies where you have an embarrassment of riches in the cast.  As the early scenes roll on, you keep seeing all these familiar faces from what I can barely admit have now been the last 30 years of movies and television:  Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Eric Stoltz, Anthony Edwards, Forest Whitaker, etc.  Not only are all of them quite good here, but the material they’re playing is of a higher level than you would think from all the advertising around the movie.  When the movie was released in 1982, I still remember the TV ads playing up the pot angle, and I distinctly remember a dismissive Los Angeles review that summed up the movie as “Gidget gets an abortion.”  That’s both unfair and untrue, even if it made that reviewer feel superior to the film when he wrote the line.  It’s actually an ensemble comedy in a similar mode to American Graffiti, only without the period nostalgia.   Fast Times At Ridgemont High takes the audience through a single year at the fictional high school, as the primary characters work their way through various problems.  There isn’t one driving storyline, but the center of the film has two relatively innocent freshmen – Stacy Hamilton (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and Mark Ratner (Brian Backer) – who learn lessons about love and life both with the help of and in spite of their friends.  There’s also a side story about Stacy’s older brother Brad (Judge Reinhold) who is working his way through his senior year in a variety of fast food jobs.  And there’s a series of comic vignettes featuring surfer Jeff Spicoli (Sean Penn) and his encounters with strict teacher Mr. Hand (Ray Walston).  There’s a lot of funny material in this movie, and more great dialogue than critics realized at the time it was released.  And there’s also some real feeling here.  When Stacy and Ratner encounter heartbreak and disappointment, the movie doesn’t pull the punch.   This is a movie I could easily watch once a year, and never grow bored with it.


The movie stems from a 1981 book written by then-Rolling Stone reporter Cameron Crowe.  Since he looked much younger than his actual age, Crowe was able to enroll at Clairemont High School in San Diego and compile plenty of material from the people and events he experienced there.  Typically of Crowe, the stories he told were fresh and honest, and like the later works of John Hughes, the characters spoke in the actual language you could expect to hear at a real high school.  When the book was translated by Crowe into a screenplay, the filmmakers were able to assemble a young cast who could convincingly bring those characters to life.  Given that this was a low budget production, almost all of the cast were appearing in a movie for either the first time or one of the very first times.   For his part, Sean Penn was making his second feature film, modeling Spicoli from several real surfers he knew from his school days.  In a fairly short period of time, the movie was produced and released, initially becoming a small hit.  Over time, the movie became a much bigger sleeper hit thanks to word of mouth and to the spread of cable TV.  More teen sex comedies followed it, but very few had the level of heart that this one carried below the surface.  (Valley Girl is one of the rare ones that did.)  Buttressing the onscreen action is a then-current rock soundtrack that includes some of the better acts of the time.  It’s interesting to note that no less than four of The Eagles contributed solo tracks to the soundtrack while their song “Life in the Fast Lane” is played by a cover band during the graduation dance.  (Of course, having Eagles manager Irving Azoff as one of the producers wouldn’t have anything to do with that…)  The movie opens with the Go-Gos’ hit “We Got The Beat” and closes with a great Oingo Boingo bit of doggerel called “Goodbye, Goodbye”.   By this point, you’ve probably got the idea that I have some affection for this film – and you’d be right.


Fast Times At Ridgemont High has been released multiple times on DVD, as well as on HD-DVD.  To wit, there was a Collector’s Edition DVD released in 1999, with an anamorphic transfer and 2.0 mono sound.  This release also included a great commentary track by Amy Heckerling and Cameron Crowe, a 40 minute documentary on the making of the movie, the trailer, a video map of the various locations, a guide to musical highlights and great quotes, and the usual DVD production notes and bios.   This was then re-released in 2003 as part of the “High School Reunion Collection”.  A “Totally Awesome Special Edition” DVD release came in 2004, this time incorporating Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 sound mixes along with the existing extras.   In October 2006, the movie was released on an HD-DVD/DVD flipper disc.  The HD-DVD side had a 1080p VC-1 transfer and Dolby Digital Plus sound, while the DVD side essentially held the 2004 release.


For this year’s Blu-ray release, you’re looking at most of the extra features from the 1999 DVD, along with a 1080p VC-1 transfer, a DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix and a pair of PIP U-Control functions that can be helpful here and there.  I believe that the Blu-ray is using the same VC-1 transfer as the HD-DVD but I have been unable to confirm this.  The issue here is whether the viewer wants to pick up the title on Blu-ray, and that’s really going to ride on whether the picture and sound upgrade is worth the repurchase.  (This assumes the viewer already owns the title.)  This is a time where I cannot recommend a new purchase.  I strongly recommend fans of the movie who have large screen HDTVs rent this title before buying.  There are picture quality issues here that may give you pause.


                                                       

VIDEO QUALITY   2/5

Fast Times at Ridgemont High is presented in a 1080p VC-1 1.85:1 transfer that caused me considerable distress almost right out of the gate.  There is a significant amount of noise in the picture throughout, and close-ups are marred both by the noise in the background and by what appears to be an attempt at digital correction in the foreground.  It’s possible that the noise is simply obstructing everything in the frame, but on a large screen, it gets so distracting that I was literally taken out of the movie almost every time it happened.  (As an example, watch an early scene at Perry’s Pizza where the waitresses gossip about the hot guy and Stacy takes his order – the close-ups throughout are filled with this problem.  As another example, a late scene between Spicoli and Mr. Hand discussing history is also filled with this problem.)  Some of this can be traced to the low budget shoot under low light conditions – my examples here were all filmed as interiors and mostly at night.  But American Graffiti was similarly shot under low light conditions and did not have anything like this problem on its Blu-ray.  From what I can tell, we’re looking at the same transfer as was used on the HD-DVD – meaning that this is an older transfer and that the HD-DVD had the same PQ issues.



AUDIO QUALITY    3 ½/5

Fast Times At Ridgemont High is presented in an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix that does just fine with the dialogue and the music throughout, but doesn’t do anything particularly spectacular.  There’s some atmospheric sound, but only in a sporadic way.  This is certainly not a heavy subwoofer show – the emphasis is firmly on the front channels, which is appropriate given the nature of the movie and the low budget of the production.


SPECIAL FEATURES      3 ½/5

The Blu-ray presentation of Fast Times At Ridgemont High comes with multiple special features, almost all of which are drawn the initial 1999 DVD release.  There’s a bit of PIP functionality, providing a music guide and repurposing material from the earlier documentary into a series of PIP moments.  The usual BD-Live and pocket BLU materials are included.


Feature Commentary with Director Amy Heckerling and Writer Cameron Crowe –  (FROM THE 1999 DVD) – This is one of the great commentaries out there.  It’s a scene-specific talk with Heckerling and Crowe as they watch the movie with us, and it’s still fun to hear, even 12 years after it was recorded.  Crowe seems to have a photographic memory for everything that was going on during the shoot, and he and Heckerling have a great time remembering what’s behind the various shots and scenes.  At one point, Heckerling tells a great story about the studio having some doubts about her work and sending John Landis to sit on the set to check on her.  This is great stuff.  UPDATE:  Thanks to poster WillG, I have gone back and confirmed that the final 7 minutes of the commentary has not been included here.  On the 1999 DVD, I noted that the commentary continues over black screen for an additional 7 minutes after the end credits are done.  Heckerling and Crowe continue discussing anxieties about how the film was produced and what happened when it came out, as well as Sean Penn's workstyle and the legacy of the movie before singing a few bars of "Goodbye, Goodbye".  On the Blu-ray, this final 7 minutes is left off, and the commentary stops at the "R" Rating screen.  At least they didn't interrupt Amy Heckerling in mid-sentence...


Reliving Our Fast Times At Ridgemont High – (39:15, Full Frame, 480p) (FROM THE 1999 DVD) – The interview collection from the 1999 DVD is included here, and it’s still fun to watch, including recollections from Amy Heckerling, Brian Backer, Robert Romanus and Judge Reinhold as well as various other production personnel.  The hard part about watching this is that the cast already look much older in the documentary, and it’s already been another 12 years…


Trailer – (1:36, Full Frame, 480p) (FROM THE 1999 DVD) – A full frame copy of the movie’s trailer is  included here in standard definition.  This is another holdover from the 1999 DVD.. 


There are also two U-Control PIP functions available here:


The Music of Fast Times At Ridgemont High PIP – This function provides information about whatever song is being played on the soundtrack at the moment.  There are options for making a playlist of the songs and/or purchasing them from iTunes.


Scene Companion PIP – This function holds the one bit of new work done for this release.  At various points during the movie, a PIP screen will appear, containing footage of interviews from the 1999 documentary.  Only in this case, we’re seeing longer cuts of the interviews than were included in the documentary.  The only drawback here is that there is some kind of video effect overlaid onto the PIP screen so a moving pattern passes over the footage in a distracting manner.

BD-Live – The usual BD-Live functionality is present.


Pocket BLU – The usual pocket BLU functionality is present.


The movie and special features are subtitled in English, Spanish and French. The usual chapter and pop-up menus are present.  When you first put the Blu-ray into the player, you’ll see a few BD-Live trailers for upcoming Blu-ray releases.


IN THE END...

Fast Times at Ridgemont High continues to be an entertaining movie nearly 30 years after its original release.  Fans of the movie likely already have it on DVD, and should think carefully before buying the title again on Blu-ray.  There are picture quality issues here that may give one pause, and I strongly recommend renting first and evaluating them yourself before making a purchase. 


Kevin Koster

August 12, 2011.


Equipment now in use in this Home Theater:


Panasonic 65” VT30 Plasma 3D HDTV – set at “THX” picture mode

Denon AVR-3311Cl Receiver

Oppo BDP-93 Blu-ray Player

PS3 Player (used for calculation of bitrates for picture and sound)

5 Mirage Speakers (Front Left/Center/Right, Surround Back Left/Right)

2 Sony Speakers (Surround Left/Right – middle of room)

Martin Logan Dynamo 700 Subwoofer 



#2 of 19 OFFLINE   Ron-P

Ron-P

    Producer



  • 6,283 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 25 2000
  • Real Name:Ron

Posted August 12 2011 - 01:28 PM

Very sad indeed. For one of the best comedies we've seen in the last 3 decades they sure did not give it the respect it deserves.

You have all the weapons you need...Now fight!


#3 of 19 OFFLINE   Bob Cashill

Bob Cashill

    Screenwriter



  • 2,209 posts
  • Join Date: Aug 15 2001

Posted August 12 2011 - 02:36 PM

Transfer issues aside did any of these 80s comedies ever look all that great? I love FAST TIMES, AIRPLANE!, etc,, but none of them really cry out for Blu treatment.

#4 of 19 OFFLINE   WillG

WillG

    Producer



  • 5,220 posts
  • Join Date: Jan 30 2003

Posted August 12 2011 - 03:47 PM

Is this release missing commentary? I the DVD releases, the Crowe/Heckerling commentary went several minutes past the film (It would be them talking over a black screen) However, I checked on the BD and it seems to end after the credits without the commentary extension. Can anyone else confirm.
STOP HIM! He's supposed to die!

#5 of 19 OFFLINE   Kevin EK

Kevin EK

    Screenwriter



  • 2,784 posts
  • Join Date: May 09 2003

Posted August 12 2011 - 07:36 PM

Will, you are absolutely right.  I will add the note to my review.  Thanks for pointing it out.


I checked my 1999 DVD and the movie runs an additional 7 minutes after the credits with the commentary going as Heckerling and Crowe continue to discuss things like Sean Penn's character work (he stayed in character on set and then reintroduced himself to the crew once he finished the part, only this time as himself and not the character).  They also carry on a joke they were starting before the end of the credits about returning to do additional commentaries together on other appropriate films - in this case ZAPPED! starring Scott Baio.  And they sing a few bars of "Goodbye, Goodbye" to wrap it up.


On the Blu-ray, the commentary just stops after the "R" Rating screen.  Thankfully, it's not in mid-sentence, but it's still a strange choice to lop that off.



#6 of 19 OFFLINE   Radioman970

Radioman970

    Producer



  • 5,887 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 22 2006
  • Real Name:James Perry
  • LocationCould be anywhere

Posted August 13 2011 - 09:52 AM

darn. One of my most wanted upgrades. I still have the first release DVD. Will wait for a substantial price decrease.
Silly Party Candidate: Tarquin Fin- tim- lim- bim- whin- bim- lim- bus- stop- F'tang- F'tang- Olè- Biscuitbarrel

#7 of 19 OFFLINE   WillG

WillG

    Producer



  • 5,220 posts
  • Join Date: Jan 30 2003

Posted August 14 2011 - 04:29 AM

On the Blu-ray, the commentary just stops after the "R" Rating screen. Thankfully, it's not in mid-sentence, but it's still a strange choice to lop that off.

If I recall correctly, the commentary extension on the DVD versions must have been a separate title on the disc. If you didn't have the commentary on, the movie would end after the end credits as normal. Maybe it just got overlooked, or whoever authored the disc just said "F it" It's a bit dissapointing, however
STOP HIM! He's supposed to die!

#8 of 19 OFFLINE   Radioman970

Radioman970

    Producer



  • 5,887 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 22 2006
  • Real Name:James Perry
  • LocationCould be anywhere

Posted August 14 2011 - 08:50 AM

Other reviewers have been kinder with this title. But I saw some image samples that support this review here.
Silly Party Candidate: Tarquin Fin- tim- lim- bim- whin- bim- lim- bus- stop- F'tang- F'tang- Olè- Biscuitbarrel

#9 of 19 OFFLINE   Scott Calvert

Scott Calvert

    Supporting Actor



  • 885 posts
  • Join Date: Nov 02 1998

Posted August 14 2011 - 09:13 AM

Transfer issues aside did any of these 80s comedies ever look all that great? I love FAST TIMES, AIRPLANE!, etc,, but none of them really cry out for Blu treatment.

They were shot on 35mm film just like 99% of every movie ever made. The problem with these Universal blurays are the video masters, not the films.

#10 of 19 OFFLINE   Kevin EK

Kevin EK

    Screenwriter



  • 2,784 posts
  • Join Date: May 09 2003

Posted August 14 2011 - 09:14 AM

I wasn't trying to be harsh, but I realize it may come across that way.  For better or worse, I'll make a call, and if I'm off, I always know that the readers here will keep my feet to the fire.



#11 of 19 OFFLINE   Cinescott

Cinescott

    Supporting Actor



  • 838 posts
  • Join Date: Nov 02 2010
  • Real Name:Scott
  • LocationMilwaukee, WI

Posted August 14 2011 - 10:53 AM

The only pet peeve I have with this disc is the huge bit of dirt that sticks to the right center of the frame for about the first five minutes. While I understand how a complete cleanup may be a problem, couldn't someone at Universal have cleaned up that annoying blob???


"There are two types of people in the world, my friend. Those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig."


#12 of 19 OFFLINE   Felix Martinez

Felix Martinez

    Screenwriter



  • 1,455 posts
  • Join Date: Aug 27 2001
  • LocationSouth Florida

Posted August 16 2011 - 01:00 AM

The only pet peeve I have with this disc is the huge bit of dirt that sticks to the right center of the frame for about the first five minutes. While I understand how a complete cleanup may be a problem, couldn't someone at Universal have cleaned up that annoying blob???

Yes that little blob appears to be baked into the opening titles, possibly the result of a dirty optical comprising that entire opening sequence. Other than some visible ringing on some high contrast areas, I was fairly pleased with the way this looked on my 92in FP set-up. No real complaints. Retired (but held on) to my 1999 DVD.

#13 of 19 OFFLINE   Mike_G

Mike_G

    Screenwriter



  • 1,446 posts
  • Join Date: Jun 01 2000
  • Real Name:Mike

Posted August 16 2011 - 09:18 AM

I assume all the original music is in this release?

#14 of 19 OFFLINE   Ron-P

Ron-P

    Producer



  • 6,283 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 25 2000
  • Real Name:Ron

Posted August 16 2011 - 09:23 AM

I received my copy in the mail today, from Netflix. Looking forward to watching it as I haven't seen it in a very long time.


You have all the weapons you need...Now fight!


#15 of 19 OFFLINE   Kevin EK

Kevin EK

    Screenwriter



  • 2,784 posts
  • Join Date: May 09 2003

Posted August 16 2011 - 09:40 AM

I believe all the original music is in.  At least all the songs I remember are there.

Everything from "We Got The Beat" through the "Best Years of Our Lives" song that drives the mayhem at the football game through the great Jackson Browne song for Stacy's extracurriculars through the mighty Oingo Boingo finale of "Goodbye, Goodbye".


If anyone notices a song missing, I'll be curious to hear about it.



#16 of 19 OFFLINE   Cinescott

Cinescott

    Supporting Actor



  • 838 posts
  • Join Date: Nov 02 2010
  • Real Name:Scott
  • LocationMilwaukee, WI

Posted August 16 2011 - 11:07 AM

All the original music is there. I graduated from high school the year this was released (1982) and it always serves as a perfect time capsule for that era. Many of the musical acts (Jackson Browne, The Go Gos) were favorites of mine in high school and it was cool to hear them in this movie for the first time back then. Now, it's a time warp that's fun to revisit whenever the mood strikes.


"There are two types of people in the world, my friend. Those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig."


#17 of 19 OFFLINE   TravisR

TravisR

    Studio Mogul



  • 22,189 posts
  • Join Date: Nov 15 2004
  • LocationThe basement of the FBI building

Posted August 16 2011 - 11:37 AM

All the original music is there. I graduated from high school the year this was released (1982) and it always serves as a perfect time capsule for that era. Many of the musical acts (Jackson Browne, The Go Gos) were favorites of mine in high school and it was cool to hear them in this movie for the first time back then. Now, it's a time warp that's fun to revisit whenever the mood strikes.

I grew up watching this movie on TV and while I didn't go to high school until about a dozen years after it was released, Fast Times is still the quintessential high school movie for me. I think one thing that helped this movie age fairly well is that the differences in clothes, trends, slang and music aren't as extreme as alot of the other teen movies that came out soon after this one.

#18 of 19 OFFLINE   Ron-P

Ron-P

    Producer



  • 6,283 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 25 2000
  • Real Name:Ron

Posted August 16 2011 - 02:01 PM



Originally Posted by Cinescott 

All the original music is there. I graduated from high school the year this was released (1982) and it always serves as a perfect time capsule for that era. Many of the musical acts (Jackson Browne, The Go Gos) were favorites of mine in high school and it was cool to hear them in this movie for the first time back then. Now, it's a time warp that's fun to revisit whenever the mood strikes.



So very true, I graduated in 85 and this movie pretty much defines the 80's more than any other. It was such a joy to sit and watch, and flash back a little. The 80's music now is considered "classic rock" and is played just about anywhere you go around here. From the malls, to the grocery stores and so on, so very cool.


For anyone who lived on SoCal back in the 80's and remembers Knott's Berry Farm and their Cloud 9 and Studio K dance clubs in the park they did a one night reunion featuring Richard Blade as DJ last April. I missed out, sadly, but I used to go almost weekly back in the day. Anyway, sorry for the flash backs...


To be honest, I wasn't too disappointed in the transfer. It looked pretty darn good. It's a bit soft and grainy but not too bad. Better than the dvd.


You have all the weapons you need...Now fight!


#19 of 19 OFFLINE   Radioman970

Radioman970

    Producer



  • 5,887 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 22 2006
  • Real Name:James Perry
  • LocationCould be anywhere

Posted August 17 2011 - 09:35 AM

This was one of the first R-rated flicks I ever saw at the movies. I was barely 17. Porkys was the other one. Hee hee! We didn't even have cable yet. Oh! What an amazing time that was. I'd gladly have those brains cells removed if somebody had a time machine and I could go back and relive that. Me and my buddy Kevin, who was younger but looked older and bought our tickets, didn't stop talking about these.
Silly Party Candidate: Tarquin Fin- tim- lim- bim- whin- bim- lim- bus- stop- F'tang- F'tang- Olè- Biscuitbarrel