DREAMWORKS has released the latest great comedy from Ben Stiller, "TROPIC THUNDER" on dvd and blu-ray. While the cheapest version on dvd, offers only the theatrical cut, it's worth shelling out a little more for the "Director's cut." Ben Stiller does a fine job directing this innovative comedy, while paying homage to some of the great war films of the past, and taking some artful jabs at the film industry itself. The witty opening of the film, confusing to some viewers(somehow) features hilarious trailers to the upcoming films of three of the main characters of the film, falling down, passing gas, comedian Jeff Portnoy(Jack Black), serious actor Kirk Lazarus(Robert Downey, jr) and action star, Tugg Speedman(Ben Stiller). These trailers provide exposition of sorts as to the kinds of actors these guys are and where their career has gone. All of them hope for a huge comeback with their newest project, a heavy film about a rescue mission during the Viet-nam war. As depicted in the opening sequence, an expensive budget is being marred by personality conflicts of its stars, and the first-time director is being literally assaulted by the studio boss for not keeping the film's shooting schedule and budget under control. After speaking with the Vet whose "true?" story is the basis for the film, the director decides to shoot the film, "guerilla" style, taking the cast on location, into the jungles and shooting with hidden cameras and more, surprising them along the way for raw emotion. Things take a strange turn, when something horrible happens and the cast is left stranded, not realizing that they're no longer part of the film production, but at the imminent threat of being captured and killed by real guerillas, using the area for their heroin trade.
The great majority of what follows is made up of hilarious scenarios, with a bigger payoff, based upon the viewers knowing the character's flaws as scenarios unfold. Even minor characters are terrific here, and there's even a major actor, hard to recognize, giving a tour-de-force performance, that is brilliant! Some may feel the film goes on a bit too long during the film's final moments, but with over 90% of the film being close to perfect, it's a minor flaw, easy to forget.
While the director's cut offers 13 minutes of new scenes, a minor scene is actually cut, that should've been left in!!! The other scenes are fun, but don't add much more to an already great comedy.
DREAMWORKS has provided the correct 2.35:1 aspect ratio for the dvd(16:9 enhanced) and 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encoded blu-ray. Colors are solid in both formats, however the blu-ray offers slightly deeper levels, without any hint of oversaturation. Colors, whether in lush green jungle environment or the boardroom of a Hollywood office, are pristine. Contrast is also excellent in both formats, however, the blu-ray offers deeper blacks, and incredible depth, while the dvd presents some minor noise in scene-to-scene comparisons.
DREAMWORKS offers a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix for dvd, and Dolby TrueHD 5.1 for the blu-ray. Both mixes are terrific. This isn't a typical comedy soundmix. From the opening sequence and all the way through, ambient subtle effects, deep bass, directional and surround effects create an immersive environment that carries throughout the film, with perfect balance. The score, offering some great tunes, never overshadows the dialogue, while still standing out prominently. As good as the Dolby Digital mix is(and, it's great), it can't match the surprising impact of the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix offered on blu-ray. OUTSTANDING!
Both formats offer supplements, with the blu-ray offering most in HD. Two commentaries are offered, but the one with the cast(DOWNEY, JR in full character) is the only one worth listening to, and it's great!
There are extended scenes, some of which are way too long, and lose their comedic punches. Featurettes, a mockumentary and a brief sequence looking at the makeup of a major guest appearance. Pretty good stuff.