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Featured Blu-ray Review: Thelma and Louise

February 16th, 2011

Thelma & Louise - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon

Thelma and Louise came out in 1991 and was one of the best-reviewed movies of the year. It earned six Oscar nominations, winning for Best Original Screenplay, while it became a fixture in the culture. It's been referenced, and parodied, more times that I can remember. It made its debut on Blu-ray a couple weeks ago and because it is such a famous movie, the review is almost more about the Blu-ray than the movie.

The Movie

This is a road trip movie starring Gena Davis as Thelma Dickinson and Susan Sarandon as Louise Sawyer. The pair are best friends despite having quite different personalities and being in different situations. Thelma is married to a domineering husband, but deals with that with a very upbeat personality. Louise is single and a lot tougher, at least on the outside, but she's hiding from something in her past.

The film starts with the two of them planning a weekend getaway up into the mountains for fishing and fresh air. However, before they even get there, there is an incident at a bar, and their plans spiral out of control.

That's about as far as I want to go in the plot, as we start hitting some major spoilers here. Although even if you've never seen the film, you've likely seen the ending in one parody or another, so the definition of "spoiler" is a little complicated here. That said, knowing the ending and spoiling the journey are two different things, so that's where I'll stop.

And it is an amazing journey. I've often complained about the lack of strong roles for women, but this film has two of the best. It's no wonder both Gena Davis and Susan Sarandon earned Oscar nominations, while vote-splitting is likely the only thing that prevented either one of them from winning. The script also gives a number of other well thought out characters, even Christopher McDonald's character has a little more depth than you would original assume. I would argue its Ridley Scott's third best film after Blade Runner and Alien, while it is also in the top three for the two leads.

The Extras

But is it worth the upgrade? I've got some good news and I've got some bad news. The bad news is that the Blu-ray is shovelware and there's nothing new from the previous special edition DVD. On the other hand, that still means there's plenty of extras, including two audio commentary tracks, the first with the director, and the second with the screenwriter and the two leads. Ridley Scott is more informative, but he's also more subdued in he speaking manner. Gena Davis, Susan Sarandon, and Callie Khouri are more energetic when they speak, but they also have more dead spots. There is an hour long making of / retrospective, which is certainly worth checking out, and a much shorter piece that is mostly promotional fluff. There are 40 minutes of deleted / extended scenes, some of which are substantial, but many are just 30-second cuts. More importantly, there's an extended ending, with audio commentary track. There is also a storyboard to screen comparison of the final chase and a music video. Sadly, all of the extras are in Standard Definition, and some of them look really rough.

On the other hand, the movie itself looks great. It was made 20 years ago, which means it's old enough that some issues are to be expected. I'm not going to make a big fuse over some inconsistencies, nor am I going to complain about the grain level, which was obviously there as an aesthetic choice. The audio isn't quite as strong, but still a major selling point with good use of the surround sound speakers, but the film is still mostly dialogue driven.

Finally, we get to the price, which at $14 on Amazon.com is a clincher.

The Verdict

Thelma & Louise is an amazing movie and one that is worth owning. The Blu-ray is shovelware, but for $14, it's worth it for the impressive upgrade to the video and audio from past releases.


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