DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Purple Rain 20th Anniversary - Two Disc Special Edition

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Herb Kane, Aug 27, 2004.

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  1. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

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    [​IMG]

    Purple Rain
    Two Disc Special Edition - 20th Anniversary Edition






    Studio: Warner Brothers
    Year: 1984
    Rated: R
    Film Length: 111 Minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Enhanced Widescreen
    Audio: DD 5.1
    Color/B&W: Color
    Languages: English & French
    Subtitles: English, French & Spanish
    MSRP: $26.99
    Package: Two Disc/Keepcase





    The Feature:
    I have to admit, I never saw this coming. When Warner announced their upcoming Prince titles several months, I found myself scratching my head and saying, “huh”…? But hey, anytime a studio replaces a MAR’d disc with a new transfer in its proper OAR, let alone a Two Disc Special Edition, I’m all for it. On August 24th, Warner Brothers released Under the Cherry Moon (1986), Graffiti Bridge (1990) as well as the feature film, the 1984 hit movie, Purple Rain.

    I grew up in the late 70’s and early 80’s and I have to admit, there’s a special place in my heart for music from that period. 80’s music and its subculture were popular for bizarre eye shadow, big hair, synthesizers and drum solos that seemed to go on for ever… and you know what? I kinda miss it. Well, the music anyway…

    I remember being dragged to the theater (kicking and screaming) to see Purple Rain and I have vague recollections of seeing the film but remembering most, that it seemed to be a montage of music videos, and really, that’s what the film is. That’s by no means a slam of the film (we’ll get to that in a few minutes), but really the plot is of very little significance and is merely a collection of thoughts and recollections of Prince as a quasi-autobiography during his entry into the music business.

    Prince plays "The Kid" who grows up in an abusive home with his father, Francis L (played by Clarence Williams III), himself a failed musician and an insensible mother (played by Olga Karlatos), whom he refers to as “the freak show”. The Kid is a musician and he and his band (The Revolution), compete for stage time at a Minneapolis (where Prince actually hails from) club called First Avenue. Throughout the course of the film, their rival competition is a band known as The Time headed by Morris (played by Morris Day), who are a slick looking bunch always smug and berating the Kid and his band members.

    The kid does have one thing Morris wants. Enter wannabe singer Apollonia (played by Apollonia Kotero), who arrives on the scene hoping to get her big break as a singer. She meets the Kid at the club and feels he has what it takes to open a door or two for her success. But what Apollonia lacks is any real talent. Consequentially, her existence serves no other purpose other than to be a distraction as the source of a love triangle between the Kid and Morris. The Kid no longer packs in the crowd and club owner Billy (played by Billy Sparks) is on the verge of removing him from the act in favor of Morris if he assembles a new hot girl group.

    Besides the obvious tension that exists within the band, the main story revolves around the love triangle of the Kid, Morris, and Apollonia and the pervasive abusive treatment of all women who are present. Not only is the Kid’s mom a victim of domestic violence (a term not even coined at that point), but another woman is tossed in a dumpster after having words with Morris. The Kid himself becomes abusive towards Apollonia when he learns of her desire to join Morris’ new group and the constant consternation that exists between him and his female band members who are obviously more talented than he credits them for.

    As the film progresses, so to does the song Purple Rain as the Kid continually works on it and tweaks it to perfection until finally he performs it at a moment of do or die in the club which is close to pulling his act. In an act of brilliance the Kid decides to perform the song after he dedicates it to his father, a decision that seals his fate as a true rock star. Ironically the song was written by the two female members of his band who he finally acknowledges on stage just before they start to play it.

    Purple Rain, the album, still holds the position of being one of the biggest selling albums ever and includes many songs that are now engrained in many of us who remember the original release and the impact it had at that time. As for the film, well it’s not high art, nor was it ever intended to be. In fact it was a relatively low budget quick release flick to capitalize on what was an enormously huge selling album – a grouping of MTV videos if you will. The script is paper thin and the acting is borderline atrocious, although ironically Prince holds his own better than I would have ever remembered. The film hasn’t aged that well but I didn’t go into it expecting Citizen Kane. It was however, a fun little romp down the 80’s memory lane with a lot of the music I grew up with and still enjoy today.

    And kudos to Warner Brothers for their use of the original art, the artwork that adorned the original album cover. Nice job.

    The Feature: 3/5
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]



    Video:
    First off, bravo to WB for re-releasing this film and finally giving it the enhanced widescreen treatment it deserves. This release marks the first OAR release of Purple Rain as the prior release was merely a MAR atrocity. Secondly, bravo to WB for the efforts in transferring what might have or could have been a difficult film. Let me explain.

    Regardless of the success of the film, it’s no secret the film was produced on a shoestring budget, shot mostly indoors in dark murky surroundings, oftentimes dealing with endless shots of steaming dry ice – all nightmare elements when it comes to transferring and compression artifacting. Well, I’m happy to report, that given a few considerations, this disc looks great – probably never better.

    Colors were nice, slightly muted although I wouldn’t call them vibrant, while flesh tones looked real and accurate for the most part. Black levels were very deep and whites were perfectly clean and stark. The level of contrast and shadow detail was also quite acceptable.

    Image detail was somewhat inconsistent. Some shots were unbelievably sharp and well defined while others were quite blurry – bordering on out of focus. However, after comparing the film to “itself”, I’m confident none of this is transfer related. There was a reasonable amount of fine film grain present throughout resulting in a fine film-like image with a decent amount of depth.

    The print still had some dust and dirt blemishes that were occasionally visible but never managed to become bothersome. The image was rock solid and was never troubled or plagued by any light shimmer or instability issues. Also, the disc was free of any compression or enhancement problems.

    The presentation is not perfect and I’m not going to pretend for a second that I even vaguely remember what this looked like theatrically 20 years ago, but I will say that given the production limitations and other factors this film must have been plagued with, I doubt it has ever looked better.

    Video: 4/5
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    Audio:
    Presented in a DD 5.1 surround track, the audio on this disc is very good, although not outstanding.

    First off, the track is free of hiss or any other pop or crackling noises. The overall tonality of the track was natural although at times, I found some of the dialogue to border on edgy during times of yelling or when voices became elevated. Other than that, dialogue was solid and bold even as much of the music was playing during its accompaniment of the film.

    I would rate the track as slightly forward with a dynamic range that was greater than we might expect. Even though the soundstage is mostly upfront, it is satisfactorily wide and much of the music sounded quite good. Bass response was quite tight and never sloppy or boomy and highs were bright and distinct, never sounding sharp or edgy.

    Surrounds were deployed in a manner of lending atmosphere to the track, mostly in the form of music filler and occasionally adding subtle effects as crowd noise etc. LFE was used tactfully used but never in abundance.

    Nice solid job – music sounded great.

    Audio: 4/5
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]



    Special Features:
    Being a Two Disc Special Edition, there is a fair amount of special features in terms of quantity, but I’m afraid not much in the way substance. I am pleased that the videos have been included, although really, many are simply clips from the film itself. Disc one starts with:
    [*] A Commentary with Director Albert Magnoli, Producer Robert Cavallo and director of Photography, Donald Thorin. While the three discuss mostly technical issues, there really isn’t much of a discussion pertaining to Prince himself and the amount of dead time is rather on the heavy side… okay but not essential.
    [*] A group of Theatrical Trailers is the only other feature included on disc one. They are:

    - Purple Rain (1984) Duration 1:25 minutes.
    - Under The Cherry Moon (1986) The B&W trailer is included Duration 1:27 minutes.
    - Graffiti Bridge (1990) Duration 1:44 minutes.

    All three trailers are in reasonably good condition.


    The remainder of special features can be found on disc two starting with:
    [*] First Avenue: The Road To Pop Royalty is a feature which includes many of the band members, music DJ’s from the era, employees of the club who offer up a physical tour of the club and elaborate on many of the acts the club has played host to over the years. Duration 12:21 minutes.
    [*] Purple Rain: Backstage Pass again, many of the same participants from the previous featurette appear and this time offer up information relating to the shoot and more recollections from the musicians who appeared with Prince. Although repetition begins to creep in here, the feature is informal and somewhat informative. Duration 29:41 minutes.
    [*] Riffs, Ruffles And A Revolution: The Impact And Influence of Purple Rain is an interesting little feature which includes discussions and reflections from band members as well as those in the fashion industry who comment on the impact of Price and the album. Duration 9:59 minutes.
    [*] MTV Premiere Party is the footage from the actual premiere hosted by MTV’s Mark Goodman as he interviews many of the films attendees. Obviously not much in the way substance, but it is interesting to see many of the celebrities from the period, many of whom are rather wrapped up in their own self-importance. Loooooong. Duration 27:49 minutes.
    [*] Purple Rain: The Videos. Included in the group are six videos from Prince (Let’s Go Crazy, Take Me With You, When Doves Cry, I Would Die For You/Baby I’m A Star and Purple Rain), two from The Time (Jungle Love and The Bird) and finally one from Apollonia (Sex Shooter).

    Special Features: 3.5/5
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    **Special Features rated for the quality of supplements, not the quantity**



    Final Thoughts:
    Love him or hate him, there’s no denying this peculiar little man is full of talent. He’s responsible for a string of hits that even twenty years later are instantly recognizable. That’s not to say the film is one of the best you’ll see from the period – not by any stretch of the imagination. Think of it this way; consider it a nostalgic trip down memory lane and an opportunity to hear some of the best music to come out of the 80’s. Hey, this is a Prince flick folks, what were you expecting…?

    While the inclusion of the music videos is great, the remainder of the special features leaves a lot to be desired. The presentation on the other hand is outstanding and should be enough to make any fan of the purple fella pretty happy.

    Overall Rating: 3.5/5 (not an average)
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]




    Release Date: August 24th, 2004
     
  2. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    I don't know, maybe, it's just a difference of opinion, but I found alot more substance from those special features than you. Anyhow, I obviously enjoy the film and this dvd more than you.






    Crawdaddy
     
  3. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    Thanks for the review Herb.

    I'm actually on my way out the door to pick this up. A girlfriend got me hooked on the soundtrack around five years ago but I never got around to viewing the film.
     
  4. Bryan X

    Bryan X Producer

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    I was going to pick this one up at WallyWorld (my only B&M option within 50 miles) but they haven't stocked it yet. [​IMG]
     
  5. StacyV

    StacyV Second Unit

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    Put me in the "love him" basket of the love him or hate him option. It was no surprise to me at all when WB announced a 2 disc Purple Rain SE. Frankly, this edition is overdue when compared to the first bonus-starved release, but the film's 20th anniversary is a nice opportunity to re-release it with all the frills they've included. Short of Prince himself being involved, any Prince fan would love the bonus materials here, the Backstage Pass segment wasn't long enough for me, and the live performance of "I Would Die 4 U/Baby I'm A Star" will give you a workout just watching it.



    The flick was done in conjunction with the album, it's not exactly correct to say its release was to capiltalize on album sales.
     
  6. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

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    That's five videos, since "I Would Die 4 U/Baby, I'm a Star" are the same clip. Also, I don't consider it and "Take Me With U" to be videos per se - they're live clips and not true music videos. Actually, "When Doves Cry" and "Sex Shooter" are the only genuine music videos in the bunch, as the non-live clips simply offer conglomerations of movie snippets...
     
  7. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

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    Actually Crawdaddy, I really do like the movie, believe it or not - probably more than I should. But I found myself having to be careful so as not to allow my fondness of "the times" influence the grade based on nostalgia alone. That said, I'd really have a great deal of difficulty saying this is a "great film"... great memories, even better music, yes! It is a lot of fun however.

    As for the special features, considering the other supplemental material that exists on other WB two disc SE's, I just feel this one fell a little short.

    Herb.
     
  8. Chris Stainton

    Chris Stainton Second Unit

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    Watching this tonight I noticed a spot where the audio goes completely out. The scene is:

    When Prince enters his home right before his father attempts suicide. When he shuts the front door to right before he hits the light switch, there is no sound. You do not here his father cock the gun at all.


    I tried it on my three different players and two different tv's. I had to break out the VHS to double check and the scene played fine on it.

    Anyone else seem to have this problem? Or maybe I have a bad copy.
     
  9. ArthurMy

    ArthurMy Supporting Actor

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    Herb, you're a KID! Since I found this forum a month ago, you were the one person I thought was older - in fact, I thought you were in your fifties because you sort of come off like you have some "history" with movies. The internet is so funny sometimes. Anyway, I enjoyed your review.
     
  10. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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  11. Shane_Anthony

    Shane_Anthony Stunt Coordinator

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    Is the "When Doves's Cry" video the extended one with the split screen??

    cheers!
     
  12. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

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    Arthur... you're my favorite member of the forum this morning. I think its the "Herb" thing... just sounds old doesn't it... [​IMG]
     
  13. Peter Kim

    Peter Kim Screenwriter

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    After holding out for so long, and never having seen it theatrically (I was 15), I finally saw this last night for the first time in its OAR and unedited.

    While this movie is pretty dated and the dialogue laughable, I couldn't help but enjoy a nostalgic walk and instant refresher on why I loved Prince so much...he is still my most favorite musician.

    I was disappointed by the video - scenes, particularly in his basement, seemed muddy, fuzzy, and had a feel that a vhs handycam was used to shoot some scenes. But since I never saw a good print, I don't know if it's source or transfer issues.

    The concert performances made up for everything. I felt the familiar rush of adrenalin, especially during the guitar section of Computer Blue, as Prince, Lisa, and the other guitarist break huddle in front of the stage light, throbbing & thrusting in synch to the beat. And Purple Rain...still evocative, mesmerizing, and epic after so many years.

    Did anyone else notice that there is one dubbed line in the movie (Ch. 14), where Prince's father and mother crash into the basement arguing in front of Prince. After the father shouts, 'Don't I keep the heat on', the mother is heard to say, 'I'm don't like it here'.

    However, not so careful examination seems to reveal that the mother actually mouths, 'I don't like your shit'. Strange that a relatively innocuous line of dialogue was mended like that.

    Anyway, I still get such a buzz from this film. Really loved it.

    BTW...was reminded of how stunningly beautiful Apollonia was at that time. Prince, despite his physical stature and effete sartorial splendor, must have really been able to cast the voodoo spell well to bed beauties that he did.
     
  14. Leonard B

    Leonard B Stunt Coordinator

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    I have a dumb question..what is MAR?
    Thanks:b
     
  15. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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  16. StacyV

    StacyV Second Unit

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    Yes Shane, it's the extended video for "When Doves Cry." For the one or two others out there interested in Graffiti Bridge, the short version of the "Thieves In The Temple" video is included. There also exists an eight minute plus version that was done for the extended single but unfortunately not included on the GB dvd.
     
  17. John Swarce

    John Swarce Second Unit

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    Is Graffiti Bridge somewhat of a sequel to Purple Rain? I never saw Prince's other two movies, but after viewing the trailer, I got the impression it was a sequel.

    John
     

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