on August 29, 2006
Despite James Kronenberg's review, I picked up the boxset at Wal-Mart and put the discs in my DVD player, and they are indeed anamorphic.
Only reason I gave this set four stars instead of five is because of:
1. A lack of commentary by Robert Zemeckis.
2. The absence of trailers, which were the only bonus features on the original 1999 discs.
Once I finish viewing the discs, I'll post a more detailed review.
ETA: Better late than never...
The Special Edition DVDs for "Romancing the Stone" and "The Jewel of the Nile" contain a nice technical upgrade for audio and video, and adds fair amount of bonus features, including short documentaries, deleted scenes, and a director's commentary on "Jewel...".
Both films now are presented in 16:9 anamorphic widescreen. This will be of no consequence for anyone still using a 4:3 television, but for viewers with a 16:9 television, the anamorphic transfer shines. As the old DVDs were non-anamorphic, viewing them on a 16:9 television resulted in black bars on all sides, effectively windowboxing the film to take up probably 30% of the television screen. With this anamorphic transfer, we now can enjoy the adventures of Jack and Joan in full widescreen glory.
Regarding the audio, "The Jewel of the Nile" receives a nice audio upgrade. Its original DVD contained only 2.0 Surround, this disc has a 4.0 mix. "Romancing the Stone" unfortunately remains in 2.0 Surround. French and Spanish tracks are also included for both films, as are English and Spanish subtitles.
We also get a nice selection of featurettes for both films, listed below.
"Romancing the Stone"
- Rekindling the Romance: A Look Back (19:47)
- A Hidden Treasure: The Screenwriter (3:15)
- Douglas, Turner, and DeVito: Favorite Scenes (3:56)
- Michael Douglas Remembers (2:23)
Across all four features, you'll hear from Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, Danny DeVito, "Jewel of the Nile" director Lewis Teague, and "Jewel of the Nile" co-screenwriter Mark Rosenthal. They all provide basic and perfunctory discussion about what it was like to make the film. "Rekindling" is the best of the bunch, while the "Favorite Scenes" an "Remembers" featurettes could have likely been edited into it rather than listed as short featurettes. "A Hidden Treasure" gives us a brief tribute/appreciation to the late Diane Thomas, who wrote "Romancing the Stone."
In addition to the four featurettes, eight deleted scenes are presented: "Jack T. Colton" (2:13), By the River (4:22), Keep Quiet (1:46), Treasure Map (1:40), Campfire on a Cargo Plane (3:11), "Romancing the Stone" (1:02), Alligator (0:27), The Book Signing (4:07).
As mentioned earlier, this Special Edition DVD does not contain the theatrical trailer, which was the only supplement on the original DVD. It's a pity, too, as the trailer featured an in-character Danny DeVito inviting the viewers to come with him on the crazy adventure.
"The Jewel of the Nile"
- Romancing the Nile: A Winning Sequel (20:59)
- Adventures of a Romance Novelist (8:02)
Both featurettes cover the same ground, with the same interview participants. Essentially, they look at the production of the sequel, why it was made, how they shaped the story, etc. Truth be told, I found these two documentaries to be superior to "Romancing the Stone"'s making-of documentary.
Director Lewis Teague also provided an audio commentary for "The Jewel of the Nile." Having to handle the film solo, he doesn't offer much, although what he does discuss is slightly valuable. It would have been nice if he were discussing the film with Mark Rosenthal or Michael Douglas.
We get six deleted scenes here: A Toast to Joan Wilder (1:12), With the People (1:01), "Need Water" (0:42), "This Ain't Easy You Know" (0:59), "Jack, I Wish We Would Have Gone to Greece" (0:23), The Ceremony (1:29).
Finally, although it's not listed on the case, the trailer is surprisingly included in the disc's features.
Both films each receive a fine 8-page booklet that talks about the production.
Overall, these are nicely-made Special Edition DVDs, and worth the upgrade over the original discs.
If you've made the jump to high-definition, you can also purchase both films on Blu-Ray, which contain all the special features here, but lose out on the booklets. These were released in 2008, both individually and in a twin-pack.
on August 13, 2014
ROMANCING THE STONE / THE JEWEL OF THE NILE [1985/1984] [Blu-ray] OWN THE MOMENTS!
`Romancing the Stone'  When her sister Elaine [Mary Ellen Trainoris] kidnapped by thugs searching for a priceless jewel of Colombia, a romance novelist Joan Wilder [Kathleen Turner] soon finds her own life filled with adventure. She sets out to rescue her sister and meets up with a handsome fortune seeker Jack T. Colton [Michael Douglas] who convinces her to beat the bandits to the treasure!
`The Jewel of the Nile'  In this thrill-packed sequel to `Romancing the Stone,' Joan Wilder [Kathleen Turner] and Jack T. Colton [Michael Douglas] are back in the fast lane on a perilous trek through the North African desert. Not even treacherous tribes, deadly dungeons and dangerous villains can stop them from finding, once and for all, that mysterious "Jewel of the Nile."
FILM FACT: `Romancing the Stone' was well received by critics and is considered by some as among the best films of 1984 and was given the following Awards: Golden Globe® Awards for Best Motion Picture for Musical or Comedy. Golden Globe® Awards for Best Actress, Musical or Comedy for Kathleen Turner. Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress for Kathleen Turner. Golden Reel Award for Best Sound Editing for ADR. Stuntman Award for Most Spectacular Stunt for Vince Deadrick Jr. and Terry Leonard. Award Nominations: Academy Award® for Best Film Editing for Donn Cambern and Frank Morriss.
Romancing the Stone Cast: Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, Danny DeVito, Mary Ellen Trainoris, Zack Norman, Alfonso Arau, Manuel Ojeda, Holland Taylor, Mary Ellen Trainor, Eve Smith, Joe Nesnow, José Chávez, Evita Muñoz, Camillo García, Rodrigo Puebla, Paco Morayta, Kymberly Herrin, Bill Burton and Ted White
The Jewel of the Nile Cast: Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, Danny DeVito, Spiros Focás, Avner Eisenberg, Paul David Magid, Howard Jay Patterson, Randall Edwin Nelson, Samuel Ross Williams, Timothy Daniel Furst, Hamid Fillali, Daniel Peacock, Holland Taylor, Guy Cuevas, Peter DePalma and Mark Daly Richards
Directors: Robert Zemeckis and Lewis Teague
Producer: Michael Douglas
Screenplay: Diane Thomas, Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal
Composers: Alan Silvestri and Jack Nitzsche
Cinematography: Dean Cundey and Jan De Bont
Video Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Romancing the Stone Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English: 2.0 Dolby Surround and Spanish: 1.0 Mono
The Jewel of the Nile Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English: 4.0 Dolby Surround, Spanish: 1.0 Mono and French: 4.0 Dolby Surround
Subtitles: English, Spanish, Cantonese, Korean and Mandarin
Running Time: 106 minutes [both films]
Region: Region A/1
Number of discs: 2
Studio: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Andrew's Blu-ray Review of `Romancing the Stone': The story of 'Romancing the Stone' is an interesting inversion of the more traditional macho Indiana Jones template. Though the film does give us an Indiana like lead character in Michael Douglas' Jack T. Colton, the heroine of our story is really successful romance novelist Joan Wilder [Kathleen Turner]. Unlike the fetching but tough damsels in distress she writes about, Wilder is bored, repressed, and virtually a recluse in her New York apartment a beauty in the rough who has yet to realize her true "wilder" nature and yearning for adventure. But that will soon change after she receives a mysterious telegram from her kidnapped sister, which lures her out to the jungles of Colombia and right into the arms of mercenary Jack T. Colton [Michael Douglas] who's a sort of an Indiana Jones. Uncovering a complex plot of pulpy skulduggery, the race is on to stage a rescue, tangle with the diminutive criminal Ralph [Danny DeVito], and uncover a centuries-old buried treasure.
'Romancing the Stone' works first and foremost as silly escapist entertainment. The film makes no apologies about wearing its conventions on its sleeve, and that, like the Indiana Jones films, is a throwback as much to '30s serials as the romance novels Turner's character writes. Yet it is our very familiarity with where the material is going that director Robert Zemeckis so shrewdly milks throughout the film. With a knowing wink at the audience, but without obnoxious, overt post-modern self-reflectivity Robert Zemeckis revels in fulfilling our expectations, and 'Romancing the Stone' doesn't disappoint as a crowd-pleasing thrill machine. All the expected moments are here, especially the meet up between Jack and Joan, the wisecracking sidekick in Ralph, the breathless series of cliff-hanging action moments, and even a treasure map with a big "X" on it, but they're done so well and with such a spirit of goodwill that it's hard to resist the film's natural charm.
Almost twenty-five years after its original release, 'Romancing the Stone' still holds up well even if some of the elements of the film have dated. Robert Zemeckis wasn't quite an action director of Spielberg's calibre when he made 'Romancing the Stone,' so some of the action feels a bit stiff by today's standards. But it's Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas, as well as DeVito, who ultimately elevates Robert Zemeckis' already-sharp screenplay to the level of great commercial filmmaking. 'Romancing the Stone' is never less than tons of fun, and thanks to its two very memorable lead characters, it earns its place alongside the Indiana Jones films as one of the best genre yarns of its era.
Blu-ray Video Quality – Fox re-mastered 'Romancing the Stone' (as well as its sequel, 'The Jewel of the Nile') back in 2006 for a pair of special edition DVD re-issues, and has utilised the same master for this 1080p encoded image. It's a nice transfer, however, which if not mind-blowing at least offers the finest presentation I've seen of the film yet. Colours are more vibrant than I expected, with the lush greens and reds well displayed and flesh tones accurate. Visible detail and depth wavers, with brighter scenes generally sharper, while the use of soft-focus can at times flatten out the image noticeably. The encoded image is a clean one, with no obvious artefacts. All in all, a very nice image quality.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – 'Romancing the Stone' offers us a Fox upgraded 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio Surround mix. The Surround sound offers only bursts of discrete effects, and very little audible ambiance. Dialogue sounds fine, if sometimes artificial and harsh. At least it's balanced well in the mix, and there are no obvious defects with the source. Just don't expect much at all from this DTS-D Master Audio remix.
`Romancing the Stone' Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Special Feature: A Hidden Treasure: The Screenwriter  [3:00] Is a nice tribute to the late Diane Thomas, who was tragically killed in a car accident at the height of her Hollywood success.
Special Feature: Douglas, Turner and DeVito: Favourite Scenes  [4:00] It is just that, with the trio recalling the film's best bits.
Special Feature: Michael Douglas Remembers  [2:00] This is so darn short one wonders why it needed to be split off into its own "documentary."
Special Feature Documentary: Rekindling the Romance: A Look Back  [20:00] The main production documentary, fresh interviews are included with Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, Danny DeVito, director of photography Dean Cundey, plus a couple of others. It's a nice retrospective, focusing largely on the cast and touching on the basic points of the location shoot. Unfortunately, there is no Robert Zemeckis (who doesn't appear anywhere on the extras), and his absence is apparent. Thanks to a lack of plot recap and a few bits of on-location footage and stills, however, this is still a slightly above-average documentary.
Deleted Scenes [1080p] [19:00] Rounding things out are seven deleted scenes, all in high-def. Most of the material elongates the early jungle scenes between Michal Douglas and Kathleen Turner, but there are also a couple of fun later sequences (particularly one involving an alligator). These are worth watching for big fans of these two actors.
Andrew's Blu-ray Review of `The Jewel of the Nile': In the blockbuster follow up `The Jewel of the Nile', novelist Joan Wilder [Kathleen Turner] and wanderer Jack T. Colton [Michael Douglas] went sailing off into the sunset together. In this thrill-packed sequel, Ralph [Danny DeVito] is back on their trail and they're back in the fast lane on a perilous trek through the fierce North African Desert. Not even treacherous tribes, deadly dungeons and seemingly endless villains can stop this trio from finding, once and for all, that mysterious `Jewel of the Nile.'
Co-screenwriters Mark Rosenthal and Lawrence Konner, taking over from Stone's creator and former waitress Diane Thomas, attempt to finesse that by portraying the couple several months later, after the bloom is off the rose, so to speak. Joan Wilder is suffering from writer's block, while Jack is suffering from wanderlust, and, as might be expected, never the two shall meet. Soon Joan Wilder is offered the chance to do some "serious" biographical work, of a Middle Eastern modern sultan of sorts, and takes off, leaving Jack T. Colton in the lurch, where his dream boat is quickly blown up and he finds out that Joan has probably been taken hostage by the sultan, evidently one of those stereotypical Middle Eastern madmen types.
It's all cobbled together, with the seams pretty much showing throughout. Joan's wish to be taken seriously appears pretty much out of nowhere, the machinations that get Michael Douglas and Danny DeVito involved are forced, to say the least, and there's just very little of the joie de vivre that infused the first effort. It's odd, especially considering the fact that since Romancing the Stone had been such a success, producer-star Michael Douglas obviously had a bigger budget to work with this time, but you can throw a lot of money at a project and still not have much to show for it. Despite the rather bizarre stunt casting of such performers as The Flying Karamazov Brothers, a lot of `Jewel of the Nile' is not quite got that pizazz as the original film.
`Jewel of the Nile' is a patchwork quilt of some screwball comedy clichés mixed uneasily with action-adventure woven around a plot filled with political intrigue. It's at once too busy and too bare for its own good, noisy and garish, sort of like a circus run amok, something that's actually portrayed, more or less, in one brief sequence when The Flying Karamazov Brothers demonstrate their juggling skills, maybe they should have been in charge of the film.
This is all not to say that there aren't pleasures to be had here, especially with Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito, make an extremely charming lead trio, and they play their characters to the hilt here. Joan is more confident and in control here, as befits the changes she underwent in `Romancing the Stone,' and Jack T. Colton is a little less acerbic toward her, as befits his putative status of being head over heels in love with her. Danny DeVito actually has a little less to do, plot-wise, this time around, and is relegated to the wisecracking also ran role, something relatively thankless but which he plays for all its worth. There's also a lot of gorgeous, if barren, desert scenery here, and an appealing supporting performance by Avner Eisenberg as the prophesied leader who will unite warring factions in that fractious region of the globe that is so often in the news and all in all is a fun packed film and a good companion to `Romancing the Stone.'
Blu-ray Video Quality – The `Jewel of the Nile' Fox Blu-ray transfer seems adept with a softer palette, compared to `Romancing the Stone.' This is probably how it was shot and detail doesn't suffer much because of it. It does tend to mute colours to some degree. Background noise is fairly fine but visible in monochromatic skies. The image overall is very smooth. It looks about what one might expect from a 20+ year old film to get a 1080p image, so perhaps a notch better than that. Cinematographer Jan de Bont shows the Moroccan landscapes looking mighty impressive and enticing at times, ditto for Miss Turner.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – `Jewel of the Nile' has an impressive 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio option and may be marginally superior to the similar track of `Romancing the Stone.' It shows a bit more life when called upon and I always like the subtleties, like horses galloping and train noises etc. The mix can't compete with more aggressive modern scores but for this film it augments the presentation adeptly. There is the 4.0 Dolby Digital track option available. The music score is by Jack Nitzsche with some modern (at the time) music with Billy Ocean and similar thematic rifts. It sounds pretty neat and tight.
`The Jewel of the Nile' Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Audio Commentary: Commentary by Director Lewis Teague: Director Lewis Teague discusses in the first few minutes of the track, the director also discusses the impact of the film on his career, chatting with Michael Douglas before officially being brought on board and the star's impressions of Teague's work, the importance of grounding the film in reality, his work on the script and the tight schedule, the advantages of making a sequel, and more. The first few minutes of the track are easily the best, but the entire track remains easy to listen to and mostly interesting. Offering up a mixture of standard stories recounting shooting locations and the harsh conditions of much of the shoot with a discussion of some of his favourite scenes and the challenge of working with non-professional actors like the Flying Karamazov Brothers, for example, and Lewis Teague remains generally easy to listen to.
Special Feature Documentary: Romancing the Nile: A Winning Sequel [20:58] Lewis Teague recorded a commentary that plays silently for long stretches but he is frank in his self-criticism, if distracted by minor observations and is an above-average 21-minute warts-and-all behind-the-scenes exposé. Director Lewis Teague's commentary is pretty standard fare, but both the deleted scenes and "Romancing the Nile" documentary help to give some backstory into the making of the sequel and how it was shaped during production, though there's only passing mention of Kathleen Turner's on-again off-again decisions to participate in the sequel.
Special Feature Documentary: Adventures of a Romance Novelist [8:00] This eight-minute "Adventures of a Romance Novelist" explores the challenges of writing a worthy new follow-up. Begins with an examination of the structure of the films and irony of a romance/adventure writer becoming entangled in real-life adventures similar to those she writes, but quickly turns into a rather dull piece that recounts the story and poses several questions that this film tries to answer.
Deleted Scenes [1080p] [5:42] This almost-six minutes of deleted scenes are served up in high-definition, but this lot is of the "I can see why they cut it" variety.
Theatrical Trailer [1080p] [1.33]
Finally, 'Romancing the Stone' is a sexy and fun adventure yarn, one elevated by strong by direction by Robert Zemeckis and the great chemistry generated by leads Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner. This first-ever Blu-ray release is perfectly solid, with good video and audio, and a decent batch of supplements. The trio are united again in this follow up `The Jewel of the Nile' in this even more fun packed adventure effort. It was meant to duplicate the success and “feeling” of the first film and it does just that, but only slightly. Once again the Blu-ray does its job bringing out the best qualities of the cinematography and audio. It's almost hard not to get wrapped up in the adventurous fun in 1080p, but I'd say this is the weaker of the two films, but still worth a spin when you are in the mood. “Feel good” adventure films like this are rarely of this quality and tack on the Blu-ray transfer and you might be surprised as I was at just how much you will enjoy yourself and to me this is a brilliant Double Fun Feature and will give you endless hours of pleasure and these 2 films have always been a massive big hit with me and viewing these 2 Blu-ray discs brought back what a great trio Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito work together to bring magic to the screen and this double packed is a great honour to add to my Blu-ray Collection. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom