HTF REVIEW: "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED) (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Ronald Epstein, Mar 9, 2003.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    Who Framed Roger Rabbit (Vista Series)

    Studio: Touchstone
    Year: 1988
    Rated: PG
    Film Length: 103 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.85:1)and Full-screen (1.33:1)
    Subtitles: English

    "I'm not bad I'm just drawn that way."
    - Jessica Rabbit


    It's kind of funny that back in 1988 when Who
    Framed Roger Rabbit
    was released, I really had
    no appreciation for the film whatsoever. I was a
    young lad of 25 and I really had no interest in a
    film like this. Now watching it again the first
    time again in over 15 years, I find myself with
    a totally brand-new perspective on the film. It's
    plainly evident that Who Framed Roger Rabbit
    is nothing short of a cinematic masterpiece.


    No kidding! I was in complete awe while watching
    this movie that meticulously blends live action and
    animation in a whole new level that exceeds all
    previous cinematic attempts before it. One can't
    help but appreciate not only the fact that this film
    is an uproarious tribute to classic animation, but
    how perfectly the live-action actors interact with
    their animated co-stars. And my God, where else
    can you see all of your favorite cartoon characters
    together in one movie?


    Who Framed Roger Rabbit would not have been
    the film that it is if not for the creative talent
    involved. This was a Spielberg-Disney joint effort
    to film Gary K. Wolf's 1981 British fantasy-mystery
    titled Who Censored Roger Rabbit. Director
    Robert Zemeckis, an early apprentice and protege of
    Steven Spielberg was brought aboard, giving his great
    technical skill to the project. Then there are the
    writers, Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman who have
    written a script that is a flat-out howl for anyone
    who grew up worshipping the classic cartoons to which
    this film pays homage. When released in 1988, the
    film was nominated for art direction/set decoration,
    cinematography, and sound. It ended up winning the
    Academy Award for sound effects and visual effects.


    The movie centers around Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins),
    a private detective who's been binging on the drink
    since his partner was killed by a "Toon." One
    day he gets called in to see cartoon maker R.K Maroon
    (Alan Tilvern), who's having a problem with one of his
    employees, a wacky animated "Toon" rabbit named
    Roger (voiced by Charles Fleischer). Roger's been
    really depressed lately, and it's starting to get
    in the way of his work. Maroon feels the rabbit's
    depression is due to marital problems with his wife
    Jessica (voiced by Katleen Turner).

    Maroon sends Eddie to find out what's going on.
    Soon after the detective snap shots some provocative
    pictures of Toon Town owner Marvin Acme and Jessica
    Rabbit, a murder takes place and Roger Rabbit is
    the prime suspect as he tries to find refuge with
    Eddie and Eddie's long-suffering girlfriend (Joanna
    Cassidy), while hiding from the sinister and
    sadistic Judge Doom (Christopher Lloyd).

    How is the transfer?

    Pure perfection! This is a superb-looking transfer
    that gives razor-sharp detail to its live actors
    and vivid color to its animated co-stars. Picture
    is ultra-smooth with excellent color rendering and
    absolutely no bleeding or smearing. Black levels
    are extraordinarily deep, giving nice texture to
    the film's 1940s styling. The only sense of grain
    I saw in the transfer is during the film's opening
    cartoon -- other than that, this is a top-shelf
    transfer that fans of this film have been
    begging for.


    I wasn't overly impressed with the film's 5.1 DTS
    sound scheme. While the film certainly boasts a
    grand sense of dynamics across the front sound
    stage (particularly in Alan Silvestri's score), the
    rears just don't seem to do enough to support the
    film. I would have expected that a cartoon romp
    like this would have given ample opportunity for
    some really cool directional effects. Take for
    instance a scene at the beginning of the film where
    Dumbo flies across the viewing area. One would
    hope that such a flyby would produce a dramatic
    "whoosh" effect from front to back. Instead, the
    effect stays totally in the front, right to left.
    Though the rears do provide a few effect sounds
    (such as gunshots), the audio is mostly front-heavy.

    Special Features

    There is so much to talk about even before I dwell
    into the supplemental material of this DVD. Let's
    first talk about the packaging....


    Who Framed Roger Rabbit arrives in a very
    attractive and colorful slipcover case whose innards
    slide out into a 3-pane gatefold that hold the
    two DVD discs in plastic hub housing. The DVDs look
    absolutely cool, with artwork that realistically makes
    them look like tiny film reels. Disc One
    is labeled as a "Family Friendly" presentation,
    touting a full-frame transfer and extras that will
    most likely appeal to younger family members. Disc
    is labeled as a "Enthusiast" presentation
    with a 1.85:1 widescreen transfer and enough in-depth
    supplements to please the hard core fan.


    In the corner pocket sits your own personally
    autographed pictures of Roger and Jessica, as well
    as rather cool 8-page collector's booklet that
    is presented in the form of a private detective's
    little notebook. Flip up the pages to find some
    in-depth text notes on the conception and making
    of the film as well as DVD chapter stops.

    I am going to start with Disc Two as this
    is the disc I am certain that most people will
    immediately pop into their DVD players.


    Imagine my surprise of popping in this DVD and
    being greeted by an absolutely outstanding live-
    action/animated menu starring Benny the cab who
    takes you inside the gates of Maroon Cartoons
    as you guide your remote around the many special
    features this disc has to offer.


    Let's begin with the supplemental material that is
    contained on Disc Two....

    I first want to talk about this terrific commentary
    track by Robert Zemeckis, Frank Marshall, Jeffrey Price,
    Peter Seaman, Steve Starkey, and Ken Ralston. This
    track reeks of pure fun simply because of all the
    information it includes and the fact that everyone
    involved with it is having the time of their lives
    talking about it. Through this all, we learn about
    the early drawn creations of Roger Rabbit, as well
    as the many voice phases the character went through.
    The film was shot in England at the Elstree film and
    television studios in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire.
    Hoskins was an unknown English actor at the time who
    was able to sport a convincing American accent. What
    was Steven Spielberg's biggest contribution to this
    film? He personally went to Warner Bros. and secured
    permission for their cartoons to appear alongside
    Disney cartoons. It is the first (and probably last)
    time you will ever see such a pairing on screen.
    One of the best parts of this commentary happens
    early on at the Ink and Paint club, where we
    hear how clever optics, puppeteers and cell animation
    were all brought together to create one of the most
    visually exciting moments in the film. It's also
    mind-blowing to hear about how difficult it is to
    create human animation, particularly the character
    of Jessica Rabbit, who had to be drawn in an off-beat
    manner in order to carefully walk the line between
    human and toon. I would estimate this commentary to
    be one of the finest I have heard on any DVD.


    One option you certainly must race to enable is
    ToonTown Confidential which provides constant
    pop-up style trivia in a transparent box. Fans will
    no doubt love reading all these little-known-facts
    alongside the playback of the film. Way cool!


    Director Robert Zemeckis, Visual Effects
    Supervisor Ken Ralston and Supervising Animator
    Simon Wells introduce the deleted scene
    entitled The Pig Head Sequence, first showing
    us original raw footage of how it was put together
    and then following it with the finished product
    shown in full-frame.
    (length: approx. 5 minutes)


    Valiant Files lets you use your remote to
    snoop around the office of Valiant & Valiant.
    Using your remote, you can click on various objects
    around the office, giving you access to all sorts
    of photo galleries on character development,
    production, promotion and Roger Rabbit artwork.
    I love the fact that there are just dozens upon
    dozens of cool images to browse through, but not
    overly enthusiastic that I had to first solve
    puzzles to get to it all. Fortunately, a "cheat
    sheet" lets you get through it without any hassles.

    Before and After is an ultra-cool 3-minute
    segment that shows you how live-action and animation
    were brought together for the film's "Toon-Town"
    sequence. You'll watch side-by-side windows that
    show Hoskins in front of a blue screen as he acts he
    interacts with yet undrawn animation while the final
    product is shown above him. You'll see some
    original storyboard artwork thrown in here as well.


    Now this is neat! Toon Stand-Ins shows how
    full-size rubber creations were used to interact
    with live actors, mimicking the actions of the yet
    undrawn animation. You'll thoroughly enjoy this
    3-minute segment that is aided with commentary by
    director Robert Zemeckis and Associate Producer
    Steve Starkey.


    Behind The Ears is a wonderful all-new
    featurette that begins in March 1987 and takes us
    through the entire production of the film. Along
    the way it features all-new interviews from the
    likes of Robert Zemeckis, Don Hahn, Richard Williams,
    Arthur Shchmidt, Steve Starkey, Bob Hoskins, Charles
    Fleischer, and so many others! You really watch and
    appreciate the blood and sweat that went into this
    production, particularly for the fact that the
    filmmakers were really doing all of this blindly
    as Zemeckis decided he wanted to shoot the film
    with live actors, leaving it up to the animators
    to fit everything else in later. Neither camps
    knew if each other's work would be able to be
    effortlessly combined. You'll see all sorts of
    original test footage here as well as learning how
    Zemeckis broke the rule that you can never move a
    camera while doing animation. You'll have fun
    watching actor Charles Fleischer rehearse in
    costume alongside an actor, only to then move away
    and have that actor act out the scenes alone (having
    animation added later). This is an exciting
    featurette that really throws you head-first into
    the film's animation, production and scoring process
    thanks to all the exclusive behind-the-scenes coverage.
    (length: approx. 36 minutes)


    On Set! is another sensational segment where
    we get to watch Hoskins on a motor car of sorts that
    stands in for the yet-to-be-drawn Benny the cab.
    You'll watch Hoskins try to avoid an oncoming trolley
    car, and later, dodging traffic as he races across
    a bridge. One of the must-see portions of this DVD!
    (length: approx. 5 minutes)

    That does it for Disc Two.


    Disc One contains the full-screen transfer
    of the film. In addition, another creatively combined
    live-action and animated menu sequence featuring
    Benny the cab who takes us to several film locales
    that house the following supplements....

    Three original Roger Rabbit Shorts: "Tummy
    Trouble", "Rollercoaster Rabbit", and "Trail Mix-Up."
    These were produced following the success of the
    feature film. I do not know, however, if these
    shorts have been edited in any way because it is my
    understanding that there were complaints regarding
    its violence.


    Who Made Roger Rabbit is a rather cute
    11-minute "kid-friendly" featurette hosted by
    Charles Fleischer that really puts the making of this
    film in a perspective that can be easily understood
    by all members of the family. It's nice to see
    something like this included for the fact that it
    may inspire children who may one day grow up to be
    our animators of tomorrow.

    Trouble in Toontown is an interactive game
    that combines pie-throwing and multiple-choice
    questions that are essential in saving Toon-Town
    from the devious weasels.

    There are trailers for SchoolHouse Rock and
    Ultimate X, but strangely, there is no
    original theatrical trailer included for this film.
    What kind of Special Edition doesn't include an
    original trailer?!

    Final Thoughts


    Who Framed Roger Rabbit was an achievement
    in studio cooperation as much as it was in animation.
    It is a homage to everything we have loved about
    cartoons ever since we were introduced to them as
    little kids.

    This Vista Series DVD once again proves that Disney
    can do some spectacular things with the format once
    they set their mind to it. Most highly recommended
    for kids of ALL ages!

    Release Date: March 25, 2003

    All screen captures have been further compressed.
    They are for illustrative purposes only and do not
    represent actual picture quality
  2. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

    May 16, 2001
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    Georgia (the state)
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    Patrick McCart
    Looks great...

    One interesting thing... most of the film was made in VistaVision 8 perf because of all the compositing.

    This screenshot shows what the camera looked like:


    Industrial Light + Magic constructed a bunch of VV cameras for the Star Wars films, which are still in use today.

    March 25 can't come sooner!

    (I'm against censorship for this title, but I DO realize that Disney could care less. Since they will likely never allow an uncut version on DVD, I might as well buy it. After all, they gave us the finger when it came to getting uncut editions of Fantasia, Saludas Amigos, Make Mine Music, and Melody Time on DVD. Not to mention the non-OAR titles, either. Here's to The Digital Bits' "Best Studio of 2002"! [​IMG] )
  3. Adam_WM

    Adam_WM Screenwriter

    Oct 25, 2001
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    My most anticipated release so far this year!!!! CAN'T WAIT!!!!!!!!!!!!
  4. JoeyPalmiotti

    Nov 23, 2002
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    WONDERFUL review! I can't wait for it [​IMG]
  5. Lucho Cohaila

    Nov 24, 2002
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    Ron, my question is:

    what kind of language track in Spanish have WFRR´DVD VISTA SERIES Edition, from Spain or Latin America?

    by the way..... EXCELENT REVIEW!!!!!!

    Thanks for your answers.....
  6. Lee Bombard

    Lee Bombard Stunt Coordinator

    Jun 30, 1997
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    No trailer?

    Perhaps you need to look a little harder...[​IMG]
  7. Rain

    Rain Producer

    Mar 21, 2001
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    Thanks for the review, Ron. This does look like a nice set.

    It's a shame I'm going to have to pass on it due to the censorship. It looks like it would be a spectacular release otherwise. [​IMG]

  8. Damian James

    Damian James Stunt Coordinator

    Aug 16, 2001
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    Great review and I look forward to seeing this movie again, but there are no images showing up for your screencaps. Is it me or is something haywire?
  9. Rain

    Rain Producer

    Mar 21, 2001
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  10. Steve_Knutzen

    Steve_Knutzen Screenwriter

    Feb 17, 2002
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    Great review Ron. Can't wait for this release.
    And by the way
  11. Kenneth Cummings

    Kenneth Cummings Supporting Actor

    Aug 7, 2001
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    I getting no matter what a few people say about a finger. I love the movie and nothing is stopping me from buying it.
  12. Tony-B

    Tony-B Producer

    Jun 30, 2002
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    Excellent review, Ron! I am going to be buying this one, censorship or no censorship. This is too good of a movie to pass up. I am upset about the trailer not being on there, but I suppose I can live without it. I really like how everything sounds, and I can't wait to pop disc 2 into my DVD player.

    Damian, I can't see the pictures either.
    Edit: Actually, just as I got done posting, they showed up.
  13. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

    Feb 16, 2001
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    Albany, NY
    No pictures here, either. I tried following the link on them too, but got a 404 not found error.
  14. Tim RH

    Tim RH Second Unit

    Nov 20, 2001
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    I can't see the pics either! [​IMG]

  15. David Williams

    David Williams Cinematographer

    Mar 6, 2001
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    Wonderful review! I am definitely picking this one up on the 25th.

    As for the reason the images don't work, they are linked to the wrong directory. Instead of /ronsreviews/image.jpg it should be /ronsreviews/covers/image.jpg.
  16. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

    Oct 31, 1997
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    Thanks for the review Ron! I will be picking this one up for sure.

    Oh, and I too cannot see the images in your review (tried on IE, Mozilla and Opera).

  17. Dominik Droscher

    Dominik Droscher Supporting Actor

    Sep 11, 2000
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    Images work for me. Great review!
  18. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Ronald Epstein
    There was a temporary problem with the pictures.
    Everyone should be on the same page now.

  19. Bolivar G

    Bolivar G Second Unit

    Jul 9, 2002
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    Thanks for the review Ron, great as always.
    Im buying this asson it comes out! Cant wait for it.
    I cant believe ppl are getting all bent out of shape over a few frames of animation and not buying whats looke like a great DVD release. Oh well there loss I guess [​IMG]
  20. Steve Christou

    Steve Christou Long Member

    Apr 25, 2000
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    Manchester, England
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    Steve Christou
    Great review Ron, excellent movie. The only time you'll see cartoon legends Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse appear together, is in this movie.

    Joe Dante is directing a similar sort of film for release this year isn't he? Starring many of the Warner Bros cartoon characters, I'm sure I read it somewhere, hmmm maybe I dreamt it.

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