Directed by Ridley Scott
Starring Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis, Harvey Keitel, Brad Pitt
This is sure to make some of you feel old. Thelma and Louise is a 20 year old film this year. This is another of MGM’s catalog titles making the move to blu-ray. Should you drop your DVD for this HD version? Does the film still hold up 20 years later? All that and more in the article that follows.
Thelma and Louise is one of director Ridley Scott’s over looked great movies. When you think Ridley Scott the first film that comes to mind is probably Blade Runner followed closely by Alien. Those movies and some of the other super popular ones feature Scott’s influence of art and style along with his steady hand at directing. Thelma and Louiseis one of his films where he steps back a little and lets the characters be the star with no set piece distractions or crazy camera angles. Don’t think this means the film isn’t sharp looking and solidly edited because it is, it’s just not as stylized as most of Scott’s efforts.
The story is a simple one, it follows two women who live miserable lives that decide to say f@#k it and hit the road together to escape their misery for at least a brief time. Everything is going well until at a bar a man forces himself on one of the ladies and the other one ends up shooting the man. From that point on the two aren’t on vacation anymore, they are on the run from the law and from their lives. Along the way they meet a young rogue played by Brad Pitt. Although Pitt had done other films before this one Thelma and Louise is really the film that launched his current career. Although looking at the kind of character he played in this film you still wouldn’t have suspected that he’d be such a success.
The ending of the film is really the only visual feast in the film and while that ending is fairly melodramatic it Scott still managed to make it work with this film. Luckily the film was well cast with the two lead actresses because they brought a depth to the character that was both melodramatic and complex. The film also stars Michael Madsen and Harvey Keitel who are fine in their roles for what little they get to do. Some writers have typed many words about how this film is an empowering feminist experience and still others have written the opposite. That’s a subject for more profound thinkers than me, but I will say it’s an entertaining and well made film. As far as how the film holds up 20 years later? It holds up fine. This is a simple drama so the things that date it just make it feel like a period film now. This sort of story is universal and stands up just fine.
This 1080p presentation is surprisingly great. This film didn’t simply get dumped to blu-ray; it had some attention given to the transfer. Detail is high throughout the film and contrast is spot on. Colors also look quite good. There is a bit of film grain and unfortunately some murky black levels. This is still the best looking version of the film available for home video.
The DTS Master Audio is easily the best audio presentation this film has ever received. Dialogue, sound FX, and score are crisp, clean, and well balanced. The film is almost entirely front loaded though. All the action happens in the front and center speakers. There are a few instances of ambient sound in the rear speakers and the score spreads out across all of the speakers. A little more immersion in the mix would have been great but as it stands the movie sounds great.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The single disc release comes packaged in a standard slim blu-ray amaray case with cover art taken from the original marketing materials for the film. Honestly this all feels a little basic and not as extra special as a 20th anniversary should be.
In 2003 MGM released a special edition of the film on DVD with a bevy of bonus features. All of those features are on this version as well, which is a good thing, but the lack of anything new in this “anniversary edition” is really cheap.
There are two audio commentaries here. The first is with director Ridley Scott. Scott is an extremely talented filmmaker but he’s not known to be particularly charismatic and that comes through in this commentary. Overall the commentary is very informative but a little flat to listen too. The second commentary features the screenwriter and Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon. This commentary is also informative but a lot more loose and entertaining. They discuss things like character motivation but they also share their favorite moments during the production and the lasting effect of the film.
Thelma & Louise: The Last Journey is an hour-long documentary that goes in depth into the making of this movie starting with story concepts and casting and finishing with how the movie was received when it hit theaters. There are interviews and behind the scenes footage peppered throughout the hour. This is a very well done and entertaining documentary.
There’s a five minute marketing featuurette made to promote the film upon its original release, deleted and extended scenes, an extended ending with optional commentary from Ridley Scott, multi-angle storyboards for one scene, trailers, and a music video for the song Glenn Fry wrote and performed for the film.
The commentaries and the documentary are the meat of the extras but all of these little nuggets are worth a look.
Thelma and Louise is one of Ridley Scott’s best films and it gets a good if flawed presentation here in this anniversary edition.
Overall (Not an Average) 8/10
The Movie 9/10
The Video 8/10
The Audio 8/10
Packaging and Bonus Features 8/10
Overall (Not an Average) 8/10