|Blu-ray Romantic Comedy|
|Written by Noah Fleming|
|Friday, 13 February 2009|
I think everyone out there knows the story of “Pretty Woman,” but just in case… Richard Gere stars as Edward Lewis, a successful businessman that is in Los Angeles on a business trip. After attending a party, Edward drives his friend's car to get back to the now infamous Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Unfortunately, he has no idea how to drive a stick-shift, high-class car. Somehow he winds up in the hooker area of Hollywood. Everything just spirals from there. Desperate for rent money, Vivian (Julia Roberts) gets in the car with Edward in order to get a little money for showing him the way back to his hotel.
Once they arrive, they intent to go there separate ways. Instead, he invites her up to his room where he just wants her company. Eventually he succumbs to her ways and they become involved. Edward had such a wonderful time that he offers a proposition to Vivian - $3,000 for her to stay with him for the entire week. She agrees enthusiastically.
She is invited to a dinner party, at which she must looks regal and not like her hooker-self. She is given the freedom to go to Beverly Hills' Rodeo Drive to go shopping to find a really nice dress. She is brutally rebuffed by the first store she attempts. The scene is even ridiculed in “Romy and Michele's High School Reunion.” She returns to the hotel where she is taken under the wing of the hotel's concierge, Barney Thompson (Hector Elizondo). She returns to shopping and transforms herself into the stereotypical Beverly Hills trophy wife.
Eventually, her status as a hooker is revealed, humiliating her. However, in true romantic spirit, everything works out for our odd couple in the end.
“Pretty Woman” is one of those films that is a classic to watch. Having not seen the film in such a long time it was great to return to the film. However, I may not be revisiting it in quite some time. It is just a film that can only be watched here and there.
Garry Marshall does a terrific job of directing, as always. He and Penny Marshall have had terrific careers. Their resume is truly impressive. Richard Gere and Julia Roberts light up the screen. There onscreen chemistry is incredible. Their interaction with each other is what makes this film truly work. Supporting actors Hector Elizondo, Jason Alexander and Laura San Giacomo also turn out great performances.
Now, the movie is great, but the video quality…not so great. I was really disappointed with this transfer. It was very lackluster. I must praise the studio for not applying digital noise reduction or edge enhancement, so far as I can tell. However, that aside, the lack of those digital effects leaves a grtain-filled film. Probably most annoying however, is the inconsistency in the film's image. Particularly, the sharpness of the film changes between shots. In addition, colors flip-flop between vibrant and drab throughout the film. The muted color tones are disappointing to say the least. There are a few shots that have vibrant colors, which really caught my eye. What shocked me about this presentation is that I caught a little bit of the film airing on high-definition cable a few weeks back and it look astounding. So, I'm not sure why this video transfer is lacking. Still, the Blu-ray offers a nice upgrade from previous DVD releases of the film.
The audio is presented in Uncompressed PCM 5.1. I wasn't expecting much from this soundtrack. As I had recalled there wasn't much going on in the original sound design. The dialogue is the main focus and it is given good treatment in the front center channel. The rest of the sounds fill up the rest of the front-heavy mix. Surrounds are rarely engaged. The music permeates into the surrounds channels. It is disappointing that the film didn't get to use Roy Orbison's version of “Oh, Pretty Woman.” Still, Bill Dees' version is spread out nicely across the channels, if for only a brief period of time. There isn't much in the way of dynamic range, especially due to the absence of virtually any low frequencies in the LFE channel. The audio track feels light, but it probably will not sound much better than this ever.
The Blu-ray contains the same bonus material present on the 15th Anniversary Edition of the standard DVD release. There is a blooper reel that makes me chuckle. “Live From The Wrap Party” shows some behind-the-scenes footage on the final shooting day. “L.A.: The 'Pretty Woman' Tour” takes you around the Beverly Hills locations in the film. The original 1990 production featurette is included here. “Wild Women Do” is the music video by Natalie Cole. Lastly, there are a theatrical trailer and audio commentary with director Garry Marshall. The audio commentary does offer a lot in enlightening information, but fans may like it.
“Pretty Woman” is truly a cinema classic. None of us will forget the way we felt when we saw Gere come to Roberts' balcony. However, don't expect much in terms of video and audio quality. Upgrade the disc for your collection of films but not for the transfer quality.