Staff Editorials

True Romance Blu-ray Review
Posted: 21.07.2009 15:08 by Richard Walker Comments: 8
Just before Quentin Tarantino exploded into the cultural zeitgeist with Pulp Fiction, he penned True Romance, an unconventional love story that has more in common with the rest of his output than you might think. A romantic movie packed with guns, drugs, low-lives and a couple who find themselves embroiled in all of it when they fall in love following a whirlwind encounter, True Romance has the same grit and fervour as any Tarantino flicks.

That it doesnít quite feel entirely like a QT joint is down to Tony Scottís typically flashy direction. The same guy who directed Top Gun, Days of Thunder and the headache inducing Man on Fire, Scott reins it in for this overwrought tale of crime and passion, ensuring that this is a picture with style rather than over egged visual flamboyancy. Still, you canít help but wonder how different True Romance might have been had Tarantino helmed it himself, after all as writer, he must have had a vision in mind for the movie.

 
Despite a creative pairing of writer and director that shouldnít have worked, True Romance is an entertaining and memorable movie that belies its sixteen years. Watching it again only demonstrates how little of its appeal the movie has lost over the years and how sharp the script still is, every bit as witty and rapid-fire as any of Tarantinoís dialogue. Of the movies heís written but not directed this is without a doubt the best of the bunch.

Clarence Worley leads a normal life working in a comic-book store until he meets Alabama Whitman, a young blonde prostitute who happens to enjoy Sonny Chiba movies as much as he does. But when the pair fall in love, Clarence takes it upon himself to help Alabama and liberate her from her dirtbag pimp, Drexl (an almost unrecognisable turn from Gary Oldman) leading inexorably towards life on the lam. So, with a trunk full of Drexlís cocaine they hit the road leaving their old lives behind, including Clarenceís cop father (Dennis Hopper).

Turning up in Hollywood, they meet up with Clarenceís wannabe actor buddy (Michael Rapaport) and his stoner roommate (Brad Pitt, permanently stuck to a couch) and formulate a plan to shift the coke to the highest bidder. A meeting with two cokehead Hollywood suits (Saul Rubinek and Brandon Pinchot) interested in buying the goods leads to a deal stuck between violent gangsters and a team of cops looking to make a drug bust, which leads to Clarence and Alabamaís best laid plans going completely awry.

Thereíre a collection of great scenes that make True Romance really stand out as an exceptional piece of cinema. A genuinely unsettling bathroom struggle between Alabama and a sadistic henchman (James Gandolfini, better known as Tony Soprano), a compelling tÍte-ŗ-tÍte between two acting greats in Christopher Walken and Dennis Hopper and a climactic shootout thatíll bring you to the edge of your seat all conspire to keep you utterly absorbed throughout. The movie by all accounts is an ensemble piece that boasts a variety of brilliant performances from some fine actors, so when the narrative tends to sag - which is seldom - thereís always an engaging performance to keep you invested.

True Romance is an enjoyably gritty, guns and gangsters movie that still sparks thanks to the crackling dialogue from Tarantinoís script. Tony Scottís jumpy direction might threaten to take away from the film, but the wealth of acting talent and strength of the writing keeps the picture afloat. Itís not the greatest film in QTís oeuvre, but itís certainly up there.

True Romance comes to Blu-ray with a clean 1080p/VC-1 transfer that gives you the best looking version of the movie yet. Still, there are some qualms with the video quality as the skin tones look a little too red and the colours are generally too bright throughout. Instances of smearing and overdone noise reduction render facial detail less discernable too, making this a fairly lacklustre job. The overall result is a transfer thatís an improvement over the DVD release, but one that still falls somewhat flat nonetheless.

 
The audio however is a far more noticeable improvement over the DVD release, with a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD lossless soundtrack that enhances the clarity of dialogue and other ambient sound effects. Still, thereís evidence here that this isnít the full Blu-ray restoration we were hoping for, as this is simply a solid, yet slightly underwhelming disc in every respect.

Same goes for the extras, which comprise of the exact material that was present in the 2002 two-disc DVD edition. The same set of actor, director and writerís commentaries, featurettes and deleted scenes make up the disc and theyíre even presented in standard definition for your viewing (dis)pleasure. Essentially, thereís little reason to upgrade to this Blu-ray release if you already own the DVD special edition, unless youíre a die-hard True Romance fan whoíd truly appreciate the slightly superior picture and clearer audio. Us? Weíre not quite feeling the love from this one.

Extras:
*Commentary by Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette
*Commentary by Director Tony Scott
*Commentary by Writer Quentin Tarantino
*Deleted and Extended Scenes with optional commentary
*Alternate Ending with optional Director and Writer commentaries
*Interactive branching featurette
*Vintage 1993 Production Featurette
*Theatrical Trailer and TV Spots
*Cast & Crew Film Highlights


Film: 8/10
Disc: 5/10

Purchase:
Amazon.co.uk - £9.98
Play.com - £9.99
Zavvi.co.uk - £11.95
HMV.com - £12.99

Comments

By mikehhh (SI Newbie) on Jul 21, 2009
mikehhh
Great Movie!! One of my all time favorite's!

The interrogation scene between Walken and Hopper is a all time classic not to be missed.
By stuntkid (SI Elite) on Jul 21, 2009
stuntkid
Great movie indeed! What's the next bluray review????
By JamieSI (SI Core) on Jul 22, 2009
JamieSI
Gran Torino next :)
By melzerith (SI Core) on Jul 23, 2009
melzerith
Two big things that turn me off! Cowgirl boot's and animal printed outfits.
By Wowerine (SI Elite) on Jul 23, 2009
Wowerine
What the hell is this doin' on SI!??
By melzerith (SI Core) on Jul 24, 2009
melzerith
I don't remember where it is but there was a post about adding a slot to review movies on SI.
By Wowerine (SI Elite) on Aug 03, 2009
Wowerine
Seriously. This romance stuff has to stop. We could review a action, sci-fi movie, or a hilarious comedy, but not this. You think gamers watch this crap anyway? LOL

I did see Forest Gump for the 100th time last night. 8-)
By Jurgen (SI Veteran Newbie) on Aug 17, 2009
Jurgen
I'm surprised to see this kind of review on SI! Let there be blood, sex and violence! :)