Cinelinx takes in the colorful new Dick Tracy Blu-ray!
Square-jawed detective Dick Tracy (Warren Beatty) takes on gangster Big Boy Caprice (Al Pacino), but things get complicated when a mysterious figure called The Blank emerges. Also stars Madonna and Dustin Hoffman.
Directed by Warren Beatty
I must admit, Dick Tracy is one of my guilty pleasures. Released to much fanfare by Disney in 1990, the big screen adaptation of the classic comic strip did not fare well with critics or moviegoers. It did receive high marks for its innovative, Oscar-winning art direction - which used primary colors to produce a "comic book come to life" feel. It also sported a number of great actors in supporting roles, including Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, Dick Van Dyke, and Mandy Patinkin.
What brings this movie down, and ruins it for many, can be summed up in one word: Madonna. There's way too much of her in this movie, and every time she appears on screen, the movie screeches to a halt. The film isn't paced very lively to begin with, and having to endure one boring song after another wears on the viewer quickly. Thankfully, Blu-ray allows you to skip over these scenes easily, so the impact can be minimized. However, enough damage is done by the Material Girl to keep the movie from being truly memorable.
Speaking of Madonna, parents who may not have seen the film, but want to show it to kids should be warned. There are plenty of double entendres between her and Warren Beatty, and there is one scene where she shows up in a sheer nightgown. In high definition, you can see a bit more of Madonna than you could see on VHS or DVD, and it is definitely not family friendly. Besides, the film has a bit of a slower pace for youngsters anyway.
Beatty's fascination with Madonna is obvious, and it keeps him from focusing on the best part of the film: the outstanding supporting cast. Pacino and company, playing the rogue's gallery of classic villains from the strip, breathe real life into the film, and when they get screen time, the movie shines. Sure, the makeup jobs look a little rubbery, but these are caricatures come to life, which is the reason why it won an Oscar for Best Makeup. Nevertheless, the performances, especially from Pacino, who was nominated for Best Supporting Actor, come through effectively, and make the film so much better.
The film is fun to watch and many of the characters click, but the pace is way off, especially when Madonna pops up. It tends to drag, and the music and subplots keep the film from focusing on the villains. When it works, however, it is pretty entertaining. Beatty makes an effective Tracy, and Pacino plays an overblown caricature that is more fun than it should be. Try not to dissect it much: just sit back with some popcorn and enjoy the show.
VIDEO AND AUDIO
A digitally remastered video transfer provides a much-improved image over previous home releases, which often featured a murky blur of colors. There is considerable sharpness in most, but all, of the scenes in the film. It is obvious Beatty used a soft lens on many shots to hide the age in the faces of some actors, including himself. With a 20 year old film, one must expect a less-than-perfect transfer, and Dick Tracy certainly fits the bill. There is some film grain visible in the image, especially with so many dark scenes.
The audio is excellent, sporting a 5.1 DTS HD-MA mix that sounds fantastic. Dick Tracy was supposedly the first movie to have its soundtrack digitally recorded in total, so there seems to be no real loss of quality. The music, the dialogue, even the few explosions: they all sound great here.
None. Not even a trailer. No, the digital copy does not count. Come on, Disney! After all these years, there should have been something. This disc is just begging for some behind-the-scenes looks, especially with the makeup.
THE BOTTOM LINE: BUY IT OR REDBOX IT?
Ratings (1-10 scale)
Overall Grade: 5.5
Dick Tracy may not be a great film, but it is an interesting diversion with some nice performances. The new high definition transfer is solid, but the lack of any extras for a film with a cult following is a big minus. I may be a fan of this film, but the lack of extras puts this solidly in the RENT section in my book. Save your money for the inevitable special edition that this movie deserves.
Release Date: December 11, 2012
Running time: 106 minutes
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: 5.1 DTS HD-MA, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, French, Spanish
Special Features: None
Victor is a Dallas-based freelance writer. The former association executive recently served as a Community Voices columnist for The Dallas Morning News and as editor of the North Texas High School Sports Report. His writing credits include SportsIllustrated.com, Yahoo News, Rivals.com, and a number of publications and websites.Website: www.VictorMedina.com