HTF REVIEW: "Thelma & Louise" Special Edition (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED) (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Dec 26, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    Thelma & Louise
    Special Edition

    Studio: MGM
    Year: 1991
    Rated: R
    Film Length: 129 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (2.35:1)
    Subtitles: English, French, Portugese and Spanish

    Somebody said get a life... so they did.
    Not only is Thelma & Louise one of the most
    successful road movies ever made, but the film proved
    that chicks could be just as fun (and lethal) as
    men! Director Ridley Scott cunningly places himself
    in the female's driver seat and tells a story of two
    mild-mannered women who start off on a simple
    weekend spree to forget about their troubles only
    to end up as gun-toting criminals.
    Thelma (Geena Davis) is a naive housewife married
    to husband Darryl (Christopher McDonald), who is
    just about the biggest creep walking on two feet.
    Louise (Susan Sarandon) is a brassy waitress whose
    musician boyfriend Jimmy (Michael Madsen) is always
    on the road. The women want nothing more than a
    little adventure in their lives and one day the
    two set forth in Louise's 1966 T-Bird convertible
    for a girl's weekend out.
    The first stop is a wayside honky tonk for cocktails.
    One quick cocktail turns into a binge and Thelma
    finds herself striking up a flirtation with a local
    that turns ugly. Luckily for Thelma, she had
    thoughtfully brought her .38 gun along just in case
    and Louise uses it to blow the pesky guy away in
    the parking lot of the bar. Realizing that nobody
    will believe the killing was an act of self defense,
    the duo set off for Mexico. Meanwhile, the police
    (headed by Harvey Keitel) are looking for the two
    across the southwestern U.S.A.
    Geena and Susan make the perfect pair in
    this action-packed riveting drama that puts a female
    spin on the Hollywood buddy-movie genre.
    How is the transfer?
    It's nice to have this film finally released in
    anamorphic widescreen. I had the opportunity to
    compare this transfer to the original 1997 DVD
    release, and I am happy to report that this transfer
    is a noticeable improvement over the old, although
    it still has some minor drawbacks.
    The original 1997 DVD release had a considerable
    amount of film blemish, was a bit too dark and had
    colors that ran a little too hot. All of that is
    significantly improved here. The film's surface
    looks amazingly smooth and clean with no grain to
    be seen anywhere. The film also looks brighter
    and better color balanced.
    The problem that I found, however, is that the film
    has a bit of a hazy, washed-out look to it. Perhaps
    this is the way the film looked theatrically, but I
    was disappointed that the picture wasn't as sharp
    nor detailed as one would expect from a new digital
    transfer such as this. Still, when you compare both
    DVD releases, this one is a remarkable improvement.
    I was also disappointed by the 5.1 mix that lacked
    both punch and surround. Though there is very
    distinct separation across the three front channels,
    the rears hardly show any activity. There were only
    a few times I noticed any supportive effect noise,
    and all of it was at rather low levels. Even the
    film's music sequences are presented as nothing more
    than an echo through the rear channels. I also found
    that though the sound was quite strong and clear,
    it stayed mostly in the higher end of the dynamic
    range. This results in a rather bright sounding
    soundtrack that exhibits very little bass -- certainly
    nothing from the LFE channel.
    As is becoming the standard for many of MGM's
    high profile Special Editions, Thelma & Louise
    arrives in a handsome slipcase package. I really
    love the cover art they chose here, one that
    depicts the film's climatic chase across the desert.
    Pull out the innard plastic and you'll find another
    terrific cover art photo. Once you open the DVD
    case you'll find a gorgeous 8-page foldout filled
    with photos and production notes as well as a
    chapter listing.
    Special Features
    The supplemental material is divided across this
    dual-sided DVD.
    The first side contains the feature and two
    audio commentaries. The first commentary
    is by Director Ridley Scott. The second is with
    Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis and writer Callie Khouri.
    I decided to listen to Ridley's commentary, as I
    love to hear this man talk. He begins by giving us
    an extensive background of his education that led
    him through television commercial direction on up
    to feature films. Ridley talks about his attraction
    to this film's script because it was character and
    story driven. He was particularly fond of the
    characters, and the fact that this was a challenging
    project for a male director dealing with a female
    driven movie. Ridley takes us through the initial
    process of developing the film from Callie Khouri's
    script, and the way he added his own personal style
    to it. Scene after scene, Ridley describes how he
    set up camera angles, or used simple things like
    vehicle headlights to add visual beauty to his film.
    Listening to this man talk about his angles and
    lighting only reminds me why he is one of the greatest
    visual directors of our time. There's many
    interesting stories to tell here -- one in particular
    I enjoyed -- about Ridley interviewing females to
    body double for the sex scenes. Geena finally agreed
    that she would do it herself, but what an experience
    the interviews must have been for Ridley. Towards
    the end of the film, Ridley talks about the experience
    of dealing with Oscars, prepared speeches, and the
    people who wrongfully don't win. An exceptional
    commentary -- but then again, I'd listen to this man
    read my shopping list.
    There are 40 minutes of deleted scenes (30
    minutes of which are being presented for the first
    time) that are mostly extensions of existing scenes.
    These short snippets were taken from the film's
    original work print and the quality can be a bit
    scratchy at times. One piece of footage explains
    a story hole as to how J.D. (Brad Pitt) got so far
    ahead of the girls after their first meeting. There
    is also some extensive police investigating by
    Harvey Keitel as well as an interesting improvised
    scene between him and Michael Madsen. A bookmark
    feature allows you to keep better track of exactly
    what footage was deleted.
    As seen on the 1997 release, we find the film's
    alternate ending, which in my opinion is
    far better than the original ending of the film.
    However, in the optional commentary, director
    Ridley Scott states that he felt this ending was
    too much of a downer and wanted the film to end
    on a high note instead.
    (length: 3:39)
    Let's turn the DVD over on its flip side to see the
    additional supplements included here....
    A brand new featurette, Thelma & Louise: The
    Last Journey, is a welcomed site here as it
    reunites the cast for a warm look back on this film
    and the three-dimensional characters that dominated
    it. Broken down into three separate sections, we
    begin with Conception and Casting which
    introduces us to writer and co-producer Callie
    Khouri who admits that fresh out of her stint of
    editing music videos, she never thought that the
    script she was writing would go anywhere. Producer
    Mimi Polk thought otherwise. She read the script
    and immediately fell in love with the idea of women
    taking off and following their dreams. The script
    found its way into the hands of Ridley Scott, who
    tells us that this originally wasn't the sort of film
    he was looking for. In fact, he was thinking more
    of producing this film than directing it. When
    many directors turned it down (they had problems
    working with a female cast), Ridley was persuaded
    to direct it himself. So who were the women
    originally sought for the leads? You'll be surprised
    to hear the "A" list of names that were thrown
    about, but not surprised to hear why Geena and
    Susan were finally selected. You'll see brand new
    interviews from male cast members Christopher
    McDonald, Michael Madsen, Brad Pitt, Jason Beghe,
    and Stephen Tobolowsky as well as composer Hans
    Zimmer. Production & Performance begins
    with a collection of with some really interesting
    production stills as Director Ridley Scott talks
    about how smoothly the production of this film
    went -- from perfect casting to an effortless
    production. Both Geena and Susan had an absolute
    blast despite the fact that they spent a lot of
    time being dragged around in a convertible. Ridley
    talks about bringing the film in on budget, and
    carefully lensing this story in just two states
    which offered him some incredible visual
    opportunities. Through interviews with the
    cast, we get an idea of how Ridley interacted with
    his actors and got the best possible performance
    out of them. One of the more interesting stories
    is how Callie Khouri first discovered Brad Pitt,
    and how Geena Davis really helped him through this
    film, particularly the sex scene that was greatly
    improvised (as well as shortened). In Reaction
    and Resonance
    we learn how nervous the cast
    and filmmakers were about the success of a female
    buddy film in a world dominated by white
    heterosexual males. Though many of the studio
    brass wanted to change the film's ending, it was
    Ridley and Callie that held their ground and
    presented the ending as written. A wise choice
    indeed, as screening audiences embraced it. The
    film also received critical acclaim from critics
    as well as a few negative reviews from those that
    felt the film was bashing males. Geena Davis
    addresses this issue as a misconception, and from
    a male's point of view I believe it is too. Despite
    all the initial hoopla this film produced, the
    female actresses and filmmakers feel that it did
    very little to advance female dominated roles in
    the industry. I think you will find this featurette
    not only intelligently produced, but an entertaining
    and informative watch. Certainly worth the price of
    this DVD.
    (length: approx. 45 minutes)
    An original theatrical featurette from 1991
    is far less engaging, but nonetheless gives us an
    opportunity to go back in time and see the mind set
    of Ridley and his cast shortly after the film's
    production ended. What is nice to see here is
    the amount of behind-the-camera footage presented,
    in particular, a sequence where we see how the film's
    climatic gas truck explosion was staged along with
    reaction from the cast. You have the ability to
    play this feature with or without added promotional
    (length: approx. 5 minutes)
    Multi-Angle storyboards chronicle the
    film's final chase. First up are the storyboards
    by Sherman Labby. Set to pulsating music, these
    storyboards take us shot-by-shot through the film's
    climatic ending. You even have the option of viewing
    these storyboards in a separate window alongside the
    final cut of the film to see how they compare.
    I think you'll be as amazed as I was by the dozens
    upon dozens of stills in the Photo Gallery.
    The wealth of material here is enjoyable to look
    through thanks to the fact that is has been
    categorized according to segments of the film.
    These photographs are quite nice to look at, and
    I was pleased to see a few photos dedicated to
    promotional material that included posters, video
    releas art and even a denim jacket modeled by Susan
    Also included is the film's Music Video,
    Part of Me, Part of You featuring Glenn Frey.
    The film's original theatrical trailer is
    included here as well as three short TV Spots.
    There's also a Home Video Preview which is
    more of a promotional vehicle for retailers. Finally,
    a trailer for Hannibal, another film directed
    by Ridley Scott.
    Final Thoughts
    I never get tired of watching Thelma & Louise,
    a film that succeeds greatly thanks to the Ridley's
    Scott's fine direction and powerful performances from
    Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon.
    I also give credit to MGM for not only re-releasing
    this film in a new anamorphic transfer that puts the
    original transfer to shame, but for putting an
    enormous effort into providing quality supplemental
    material. Any studio can throw together a new
    transfer. It takes great care to back it up with
    material that is as fun to watch as the film itself.
    I am going to highly recommend this one!
    Release Date: February 4, 2003
    All screen captures have been further compressed.
    They are for illustrative purposes only and do not
    represent actual picture quality
  2. Declan

    Declan Second Unit

    Aug 22, 2002
    Likes Received:
    this version has been out here in the UK for a while now, so maybe it's time I upgraded. Great review Ron.
    The picture on my old r2 is also a bit grainy and with some very noticeable "jaggies" on occasion. Although the original r2 version of it WAS anamorphic.
    The sound was actually pretty crap. When this came out on LD everybody kept on going on about how good it was, well for the time it probably was but it came out in 91 and other movies out on LD the same year were T2, JFK and Dances With Wolves and they are still great examples of surround mixes, Thelma and Louise still sounds as flat as when it came out.
  3. Kenneth Cummings

    Kenneth Cummings Supporting Actor

    Aug 7, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Well Ron, you sure have a way to convice people to watch a movie they would surely probably pass up. Good review Ron, and I might as well pick this up disprite knowing the ending (blast you Simpson. [​IMG]).
  4. Jenna

    Jenna Second Unit

    Feb 12, 2002
    Likes Received:
    God Bless you, Ron, for that shot of Brad Pitt.
    You're a good man!
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  5. AndrewW

    AndrewW Stunt Coordinator

    Oct 21, 2001
    Likes Received:
    That's funny..I finally got around to opening and watching the 'old' DVD last night; 1st time I've watched the entire film in one sitting and loved it. Not worth upgradng for me...I also agree that the 5.1 mix is a little lacking, except for when they're in the club.
  6. Zen Butler

    Zen Butler Producer

    Jan 24, 2002
    Likes Received:
    Real Name:
    Zen K. Butler
    Great review Ron, thank you. I was already set on purchasing this. For people who believe Ridley Scott cannot direct, may I also recommend this film. I dislike that many labeled this as some kind of ultimate chick flick, and boy do I hate sexist terms like that. It is just a great character study, that happens to be fun also.
  7. Aurel Savin

    Aurel Savin Supporting Actor

    Nov 15, 1998
    Likes Received:
    My favorite Ridley Scott movie ... thanks Ron for the review as I did not even know this was coming out as an SE!

    I don't have the 97 release in front of me, but didn't that have a commentary from Scott as well? Is it the same one for this release?
  8. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

    Aug 23, 1998
    Likes Received:
    Yes, it's the same commentary from Scott, but the new disc has a second commentary.
  9. Rain

    Rain Producer

    Mar 21, 2001
    Likes Received:
    This is actually the only Ridley Scott film I've ever seen that I liked. In fact, not only did I like it, I think it's a great film.
    Can't wait to pick this one up. [​IMG]
  10. Bob Black

    Bob Black Stunt Coordinator

    Jan 16, 1999
    Likes Received:
    Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator, The Duellists, Legend, Black Hawk Down, White Squall! And Thelma & Louise is the only Ridley Scott film you liked?!? WOW! Talk about a tough sell.
  11. Jason Bovberg

    Jason Bovberg Stunt Coordinator

    May 17, 2001
    Likes Received:
    I recently reviewed "Thelma & Louise" for DVD Talk, and I also noticed the washed-out look. Was this look intended? (I believe it was.) Was this transfer supervised by Ridley Scott?

    I wonder whether this title is going to generate the same kind of outcry that "Reservoir Dogs" did.
  12. David Biggs

    David Biggs Agent

    Nov 30, 2000
    Likes Received:
    Good. Thats done. Now Scott can get around to finishing work on the Blade Runner Special Edition we are all waiting for...
  13. Rain

    Rain Producer

    Mar 21, 2001
    Likes Received:
  14. Zen Butler

    Zen Butler Producer

    Jan 24, 2002
    Likes Received:
    Real Name:
    Zen K. Butler
  15. Rain

    Rain Producer

    Mar 21, 2001
    Likes Received:
  16. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

    Jun 19, 2002
    Likes Received:
    Rain, I'm with you. (in spirit, anyway)

    Although in one way, I disagree. I like Alien. I saw it first run, first night. And it scared the living daylights out of me. I also think it is quite a beautiful proto-feminist movie.

    Which is interesting, in that Scott seems to make a number of feminist movies. Maybe he's just interpreting Gladiator, but with women actors.

    But Alien, Thelma and Louise, G.I. Jane, etc., all contain "macho" female types, essentially, women doing what men are traditionally known to do. Guy pictures, with women stars in place of Schwarzenegger, Stallone, etc.

    And Alien is successful on a sci-fi level, as well. I think it is way superior to its heralded sequel, Aliens, directed by Cameron.
  17. Bill J

    Bill J Producer

    Oct 27, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Rain, I think you should give Black Hawk Down a chance. In my opinion it's easily his best film and I hate everything he has done except for Thelma and Louise.
    Scott's films are usually failures in my opinion because they are visually impressive, but are lacking in every other possible way. However, Scott's visual skill was all that was needed to make Black Hawk Down work.
    As for the Thelma and Louise SE, Ron's review has convinced me to pick this one up. [​IMG]
  18. Rain

    Rain Producer

    Mar 21, 2001
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  19. Nate Anderson

    Nate Anderson Screenwriter

    Jan 18, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Nice to hear this movie has the features it finally deserves. Put me down as another guy wo really liked "Thelma and Louise." I'm gonna have to pick this one up as well...
  20. Steve Clark

    Steve Clark Second Unit

    Nov 26, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Wow, thanks for reminding me Ron that I do not have this Ridley Scott film in my collection. Ridley Scott is IMO one of the best directors out there today. Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator and BHD are IMO four masterpieces that are four of the most watched DVDs in my collection. I also like Thelma and Louise and felt it was one of the best genre movies (road/buddy film) ever made. I love Ridley's style of machoism, whether male or female, and the fatalistic and impending doom atmosphere often displayed in his movies, i.e. T & L, Alien, BR and Gladiator. Thelma & Louise, with its charismatic and flawed characters who meet a tragic end, was a throwback to the great movies of past like Cool Hand Luke, Butch Cassidy and Bonnie and Clyde.

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