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Blu-ray Review HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: Rain Man

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Cameron Yee, Mar 1, 2011.

  1. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer

    May 9, 2002
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    Cameron Yee

    Rain Man
    Release Date: Available now
    Studio: MGM Home Entertainment
    Packaging/Materials: Single-disc Blu-ray "ECO-BOX"
    Year: 1988
    Rating: R
    Running Time: 2:14:55
    MSRP: $19.99




    1080p high definition 16x9 1.85:1

    Standard definition


    DTS-HD Master Audio: English 5.1 / Dolby Digital: Spanish 1.0, Portuguese 1.0, Czech 5.1, Magyar 1.0, Polish 5.1, / DTS: French 5.1, German 5.1, Italian 5.1, Russian, 5.1, Castellano 5.1



    English SDH, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Danish, Finnish, German, Italian, Dutch, Norwegian, Russian, Castellano, Swedish, Croatian, Czech, Greek, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Magyar, Bahasa Indonesia, Hebrew, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Hindi, Turkish,


    The Feature: 4/5

    When his estranged father dies, Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise) finally has a reason to go home. With his girlfriend Susanna (Valeria Golino) in tow, Charlie returns to Cincinnati but only goes through the motions of paying his respects. His sole interest is his inheritance, but ultimately all his father leaves him is his prize rose bushes and his 1949 Buick Roadmaster - the focal point of their years-long rift. Instead, the bulk of the estate (totaling three million dollars) has been placed in a trust for an undisclosed beneficiary. Charlie manages to track down the executor of the trust, a Dr. Bruner (Jerry Molen) who works at an institution for people with special needs, but quickly learns the beneficiary is actually Raymond Babbitt, a patient at Wallbrook and the older brother he never knew he had. Raymond, who has high functioning Autism and "savant" capabilities that allow him to make complicated mathematical calculations in his head, has been at Wallbrook for over 20 years, but Charlie decides to remove him from there, using him as leverage to get the inheritance money he feels he deserves. Susanna wants no part of it, however, and leaves the two of them to travel back to Los Angeles on their own. A custody battle between Charlie and Dr. Bruner will ultimately decide Raymond's future, but as Charlie gets a chance to spend several, often challenging, days with him, the importance of his inheritance will come to pale against what he ultimately gains from coming to know and understand the only family he has left.

    Credited for raising the general public's awareness of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Barry Levinson's "Rain Man" is probably more important than it is good; that is, it does more for a cause than it does for the art of filmmaking. Though it won the Academy Award for Best Picture and Hoffman turns in a stellar performance deserving of his own award for Best Actor, there's no denying the story itself - a road film centered around Charlie's transformation from a jerk to a nice guy - is highly predictable and deserving of terms like "Oscar Bait." In that regard, it redeems itself nicely through a notably restrained and realistic conclusion, a series of scenes that spares it from any criticism for being overly sentimental or maudlin. Its importance for introducing many to ASD is of course undeniable, but since then we've had some equally - if not more - compelling depictions in the media (most recently HBO's "Temple Grandin" and NBC's series "Parenthood"), making "Rain Man's" treatment now seem a bit simplistic. But progress must start somewhere, and there's something to be said when that start comes through a vehicle as powerful
    as a financially successful, award-winning Hollywood film. It may not provide a comprehensive look at the condition (and how could it ever?), but it certainly gets things moving forward unlike anything else.

    Video Quality: 3.5/5

    The film is accurately framed at 1.85:1 and presented in 1080p with the AVC codec. Grain can be heavy at times, flesh tones can look a little over-saturated, and black levels are sometimes limited in the the darkest of scenes, making for a mildly disappointing but generally decent high definition presentation. The image also is subject to some mild haloing along high contrast edges, though contrast seems to display the full range of values with no signs of compression. Scenes shot in full sunlight look the most impressive, but given the tendency for the Rain Man to stay indoors, there aren't too many of those on display.​

    Audio Quality: 4/5
    Dialogue in the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix is consistently clear and intelligible. There's a surprising amount of surround activity, providing support for the score and environmental effects, though the latter can seem a little blunt in execution. The same can be said for the lower frequencies, which give the track the requisite fullness, but can seem too strong at times. All told though, it's a fine, detailed track with minimal problems.

    Special Features: 4/5
    The extras include the majority of items from the 2004 special edition DVD - the three commentaries, the theatrical trailer, and the deleted scene. There are also a few additional 2004 items that weren't included in that release - the retrospective featurette and the piece on Autism. My research wasn't able to turn up any other DVD release between 2004 and now, so my assumption is the items came from a non-Region 1 release. Whatever the case, the extras provide plentiful information about the creation of the film, primarily provided by the three audio commentary tracks.

    Commentaries: The review of the commentary tracks comes from Jason Perez's HTF review of the special edition DVD.

    • Director Barry Levinson: Since I like Rain Man so much, I was really anticipating a revelatory experience from the feature length commentary by Barry Levinson. After listening to it, however, I am not sure it should even be called a “feature length” commentary since Levinson really doesn’t have that much to say. Even more of a disappointment is the fact that more than a few of his comments are screen-specific, trivial, or redundant. As a filmmaker, I think Barry Levinson is one of the most talented guys out there, but in terms of talking about his work, particularly a film that is so highly regarded, he fails to deliver very much in the way of real insight. Some of the few highlights include:

      A discussion of interesting way the role of Raymond’s doctor was cast.

    • Levinson reveals that a lot of the events that transpire on Charlie and Ray’s road trip were improvised, particularly during the motel sequence.

    • Levinson talking about how he selected the Buick Roadmaster for the film.

    Co-Writer Barry Morrow: Wow! This is what I was expecting from the commentary track with Barry Levinson! The feature length commentary by co-writer Barry Morrow is passionate, insightful, and contains a wealth of information on everything from the origin of this story through the movie’s production. Highlights include:

    • Morrow revealing in great detail how he came to write this story, and how familiar he is with autism.

    • Discussions about some of the many ideas that were dropped either in drafting the story or during production.

    • A lot candid of talk about the process of pitching the film, including how it may have not been made because "Forrest Gump" was also in development at the time.

    • Mr. Morrow reveals how he was dismissed from the project for a time, and subsequently brought back on board.

    • This is a very thoughtful and informative commentary track, and it is well worth a listen, especially if you enjoy the film. Given that Barry Levinson also did a commentary track for the film, I can’t believe I am about to write this, but if you only have time for one of the three commentaries on this special edition, I recommend making this the one!

    Co-Writer Ronald Bass: As surprised as I was by how good Barry Morrow’s commentary track is, I was equally surprised by how bad co-writer Ronald Bass’ commentary track turned out to be. For starters, he is much less talkative than his co-writer, and much less interesting as well. After a while, his breaking minutes of silence with obvious comments like “Charlie is helping Ray steer here.” Or “Now we are back in Hollywood.” became quite annoying. Towards the end of the film, he had very little to say at all, but by this point, I actually welcomed the silence. I must confess that Mr. Bass did have my interest for a little while, while he was talking about some of the differences between the Vegas sequence as written, as opposed to what is in the final cut of the film. On the whole, however, this third feature-length commentary was easily the most disappointing, which is saying a lot considering my feelings about the Barry Levinson track.

    The Journey of Rain Man (22:07, SD): Retrospective piece from 2004 covers the requisite topics of script and character development and public reception. Particularly interesting is the approach and challenge to creating Raymond, who, because of his condition, could not have a conventional character arc. Interview subjects include producers, writers and the director, but Cruise and Hoffman are notably absent from the roster.

    Lifting the Fog: A Look at the Mysteries of Autism (20:13, SD): 2004 piece looks at the Autism Spectrum Disorder's history, some of its characteristics, its depiction in the film, and the individual who influenced the character of Raymond.

    Deleted Scene (2:13, SD): Raymond visits a drug store for some snacks.

    Original Theatrical Trailer (2:13, SD)


    The Feature: 4/5
    Video Quality: 3.5/5
    Audio Quality: 4/5
    Special Features: 4/5
    Overall Score (not an average): 3.5/5

    MGM Home Entertainment turns in a decent technical presentation for Barry Levinson's siblings-on-the-road film that raised people's awareness about the Autism Spectrum Disorder. The special features provide a solid background to the film's development and production, and appear to include a few items previously unavailable in Region 1. Though the video quality is not spectacular, the high definition version is an obvious choice for first time purchasers of the title, while those who already own it on DVD will likely want to hold off upgrading until the disc hits the magic price point.
  2. Neil Middlemiss

    Neil Middlemiss Producer

    Nov 15, 2001
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    I recently watched this (a couple of weekends ago) with my wife - it was her first time seeing it, and I was struck by how much I love this film. I saw it twice in the theater in the UK when it was released, and I have always found the road-movie template, with Hoffman's incredible performance, and Hans Zimmers counter-intuitive score to be a wonderful combination.

    Thanks for the review, Cameron!
  3. Tim Glover

    Tim Glover Lead Actor

    Jan 12, 1999
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    Monroe, LA
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    Tim Glover
    Nice review Cameron. Man I haven't seen this in YEARS! Looking forward to the Blu-ray....

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