DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Fat Man and Little Boy (Recommended)

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Scott Kimball, Apr 24, 2004.

  1. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

    May 8, 2000
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    Fat Man and Little Boy

    Studio: Paramount

    Year: 1989

    Rated: PG-13

    Length: 126 minutes

    Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

    Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1

    English Subtitles, Closed Captioned

    Special Features:None

    SRP: $14.99 US

    Release Date: April 27, 2004

    During the darkest days of World War II, the U.S. Government, under the supervision of Army General Leslie Groves, gathered the world’s most brilliant scientists at Los Alamos, NM. There, the scientists toiled night and day, under oppressive secrecy, with one goal in mind: build the world’s most powerful weapon. This is all true. It was called The Manhattan Project.

    Fat Man and Little Boy plays like a cartoon. The characters are thinly drawn. Events are presented as if ripped from the pages of a graphic novel - right down to arguments between military men shown as a silhouette on a frosted glass door, and a top secret meeting taking place in a plane, engines running, inside a hangar...

    For all its silliness and shallowness, this is a compelling film about the birth of the atomic bomb. Yes, major historical characters are left out of the film. Yes, the timeline is wrong. Yes, the science is oversimplified. But, you know what? I don’t care. This film is a guilty pleasure of mine, accuracy be damned. Consider it a fictionalized account of the beginning of the atomic age.

    General Leslie Groves (Paul Newman) is put in charge of the project to create the ultimate weapon in a time when things aren’t going well for the allies in World War II. He brings brilliant scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer (Dwight Shultz) in on the project to put together a dream team of physicists and other scientists, in hopes of building an atomic bomb before the Germans do.

    The film follows the efforts of hundreds of men in the New Mexico desert as they toil in secrecy to build the most devastating weapon mankind has ever dreamed of. Inescapably, issues of morality arise as the tide begins to turn in the war. Many begin to question whether the benefit of a weapon of such lethality could ever outweigh the human costs.

    This is a good movie inspired by real events, and I recommend it. Take off the thinking caps, sit back and enjoy.

    The film also stars John Cusack, Laura Dern, Bonnie Bedelia, Natasha Richardson and John C. McGinley.

    Fat Man and Little Boy, by the way, refers specifically to the two bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August, 1945. If you want to learn more about this subject, I recommend The Day After Trinity, available on DVD.

    Paramount has done their usual good job with the transfer for this film. The picture is anamorphically enhanced, 2.35:1, and has a good level of detail. There is good sharpness without any issues of edge enhancement. Contrast is very good, with excellent black levels and shadow detail. Colors are well saturated. The palette is primarily made up of browns, tans and greens, giving a warm effect to the film - which is as I recall the theatrical exhibition. The print is free of distracting dust or scratches, and the compression delivers no distracting artifacts. I have no complaints with the video, whatsoever.

    The disc contains a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track. It delivers adequately for this film. The soundtrack is spacious across the front soundstage, with solid use of rear channels. Frequency response is excellent, with solid highs and good use of low frequency effects. The musical score by Ennio Morricone is well represented. This is an excellent surround mix for a 1989 title.

    This is a bare-bones release. There are no special features.

    Final Thoughts
    This is quite an enjoyable catalog title from Paramount, and they’ve done the transfer right. It may be lacking in bonus features, but it’s a steal with a suggested retail price of $14.99 US.

  2. StevenFC

    StevenFC Second Unit

    Aug 23, 2003
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    I don't know...I liked this film even though it had flaws--but I'm not sure if it's worth a purchase or not. Special features would have helped. I've never seen it in it's OAR though.

    Scott, would you say seeing it in it's OAR adds to the experience at all?
  3. GarySchrock

    GarySchrock Second Unit

    Feb 28, 2003
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    I have to admit I'd prefer if there were some extras, but I'll probably pick this up if I can find it at a decent price.
  4. Mike Soltis

    Mike Soltis Stunt Coordinator

    Jul 23, 2001
    Likes Received:
    I would give cash money to know the name of the music played over the end credits...I've hunted but to no avail.

    I thought this movie was well done, even with the cliches in place (only a few, which imho didn't hurt).

    Interestingly enough, a point not made in the movie was that the first of the two bombs used on Japan (Little Boy) was actually a 'gun' type uranium bomb, which is kind of dismissed in the movie as not being feasible.
    A lot of the movie's technical focus is on making the implosion plutonium bomb work (Fat Man).

    more information on the subject can be found here
  5. Randy A Salas

    Randy A Salas Screenwriter

    Apr 25, 2002
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    It's just the end-title music from Ennio Morricone's score, which was never released on CD in the United States. It's typical Morricone, filled with strings playing a plaintive melody. Try his soundtrack CDs to The Legend of 1900 and The Mission (also directed by Roland Joffe, like Fat Man) to get music with the same feel.

    Even if it were on CD, it would be cheaper to buy the DVD.

    Please donate that cash money to the HTF fund.
  6. Robert_eb

    Robert_eb Supporting Actor

    Sep 14, 2001
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    I'm looking forward to this release.

    This will be the first time I'll watch it in the proper aspect ratio.

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