ROMANCING THE STONE SPECIAL EDITION Studio: 20th Century Fox Film Year: 1984 Length: 105 minutes Genre: Adventure/Comedy/Romance Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Theatrical Ratio Colour/B&W: Colour Audio: English 2.0 Surround French 2.0 Surround Spanish 2.0 mono Subtitles: English & Spanish Film Rating: Release Date: August 29, 2006. Film Rating: / Starring: Michael Douglas (Jack T. Colton), Kathleen Turner (Joan Wilder), Danny DeVito (Ralph), Zack Norman (Ira), Alfonso Arau (Juan), Manuel Ojeda (Zolo) Written by: Diane Thomas Directed by: Robert Zemeckis She's a girl from the big city. He's a reckless soldier of fortune. For a fabulous treasure, they share an adventure no one could imagine... or survive. One of our favourite ‘80s action/adventure films has finally received a much-needed remastering on DVD. Special Editions of Romancing the Stone and Jewel of the Nile (not reviewed) are now available and I'll tell you it is worth the upgrade from your old non-anamorphic widescreen edition. Romancing the Stone stars Kathleen Turner as Joan Wilder, a romance novelist who can’t seem to find a spark for another man. She lives alone and buried in her writings, dreaming up adventure/romance stories women shed tears over. It’s not until she receives a desperate phone call from her sister from Columbia when her own adventure begins. Joan’s sister has been kidnapped and in order to save her, she needs to bring a mysterious treasure map to Columbia and hand-deliver it to her captors. Joan finds herself in a story worth writing about while getting entangled in jungles, mudslides, bullets, and crocodiles. With the help of Jack T. Colton, a wanderer deep in the Columbian jungles, they will escape the bad guys, search for the treasure and save her sister. This version of the film has the alternate versions of subtitles vs. dialogue. Some people have expressed discontent that some subtitles have been removed from the DVD versions (when comparing them to the TV version). Different dialogue is also substituted at some moments. Many films go through some changes over time and this isn’t unheard of, but it is the version on this DVD. I wouldn’t expect a different one to ever come out on SD-DVD. VIDEO QUALITY / What a relief it is to see an improved transfer of this title. It looks much better than the previous non-anamorphic version displaying more resolution, less edginess, and slightly greater colour detail. The print does look aged and isn’t free from all artefacts as dirt and film grain is periodically noticed. There is also some soft photography during the climax of the film as many shots appear out of focus and very blurry. Every source of Romancing the Stone I’ve seen always had these shots out of focus and I imagine this can’t be corrected. Contrast is very good and black levels, while deep, can look a bit undefined in the deepest shades. Edge enhancement doesn’t appear to be a problem and there are only very small, minor compression artefacts seen on my 8-foot screen. The film is presented in its ratio that appears to be correct at 2.35:1. Oddly enough, some shots look somewhat squeezed as if they weren’t completely unsqueezed from its original photography. From memory, there are a few shots of Joan Wilder slightly after the bus crash that exhibits this. AUDIO QUALITY / The Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround presentation is adequate but not all that exciting. Dialogue sounds thin and weak throughout the frequency range and occasionally comes out of the left and right channels rather than being focused in the center channel. It can also be distorted and a bit strident depending on how loud the person talks/yells. Sound effects sound equally dated and many are stereotypical catalogued sounds. Gunshots are cheesy sounding and weak and rarely shake up an ambience with the environment they are shot in. Bass is very limited; this is more of a 100Hz and up presentation. The music track is the better performer, despite having the obvious ‘80s synthesizer sound. But that is one of the things that make this movie so lovable. TACTILE FUN!! ZERO / TRANSDUCER ON/OFF?: OFF Tactile ratings are based on the information in the dedicated LFE channel only. Bass from any other channel has not been rerouted to the LFE. For “shaking” purposes, I’m interested only in the bass the LFE provides to enhance the bass in all other channels. It also gives me a good indication of how much of that “.1 LFE” channel is used on each film. A Clark Synthesis TST-429 is used on an AudioSource AMP5.3, an AudioQuest Diamondback interconnect and Crankin’ Cable 12-awg speaker wire. There is no LFE channel and I didn’t redirect any bass to it from the main channels. SPECIAL FEATURES / There are eight deleted/alternate scenes on this disc. Some scenes are clearly deleted and others feature similar conversation that already appears in the movie, just with a different setting. Most of these deleted scenes are in the first half of the film when Joan is walking through the jungle with Jack. They clearly slow the film down and it was wise not to include them in the film. They are always appreciated in the special features area. They are 2.35:1 and widescreen enhanced, but don’t look as polished as the final film. Three featurettes follow and are filled with both new interviews clips from 1984. Rekindling The Romance: A Look Back (19.45) features Douglas, Turner, and DeVito remembering the days when the film was made. A Hidden Treasure: The Screenwriter (3.10) features Douglas remembering the creator of Romancing the Stone, Diane Thomas, who a few years later died tragically in a car crash. Douglas is saddened about the crash especially since it was in a car he gave to her. He probably feels slightly responsible…but he can’t stop DUI. Douglas, Turner and DeVito: Favourite Scenes (4min) is basically what the title implies. The three actors point out their favourite scenes with them in it. Michael Douglas Remembers (2.20) is another looking back featurette. IN THE END… It was fun to watch this movie again since it’s been years I’ve seen it last. This DVD is worth the upgrade for the improved picture quality. The special features are average, but good enough for me. Maybe the inclusion of the full 1984 interviews, and a bit of participation from Robert Zemeckis would be nice, but I don’t often watch special features so for the amount included on this film was just right for me. Recommended. Michael Osadciw September 8, 2006.