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Cocoon (1985) Print E-mail
Tuesday, 13 April 2010
Image"Cocoon" is considered one of Ron Howard's best works.  While I agree, I think that there were plenty of other choices from Howard that should have come to Blu-ray first.  "Willow" comes to mind.  Nonetheless, "Cocoon" is an adventure that contains some pleasant visual effects for the age of the film.  In fact, the visual effects hold up well compared to modern day CGI.

"Cocoon" is simply about a group of elderly folks at a retirement community that find the fountain of youth in their neighbor's pool.  Their neighbors turn out to be extraterrestrials that are on planet Earth to recover some of their own.

Unfortunately, that is the extent of the plot.  Plot connections are lacking and the choices made by the filmmakers are trite.  However, for the time period this film probably worked well.  By today's standards, there is simply a lot lacking in terms of story and motivation.  After the initial finding of the fountain of youth and the aliens, we are simply just waiting for the end to find out whether they stay or go.

The ending leaves much to be desired.  Too many "what ifs" and "what abouts" are left to the audience.  The most interesting part of the film is the occasional mention of the aliens' connection to Atlantis.  This is almost certainly a reference to the great, lost city of Atlantis.  Unfortunately, the film doesn't take it any further than mentioning the name a couple of times.  The film would have been much more interesting to watch had the extracurricular activities of the elderly folks been cut back and more attention was paid to the alien visitors and their backstory.

Nevertheless, "Cocoon" serves as a typical 80's film that will bring back a lot of memories for many audiences.
I didn't expected very much when it came to audio and video transfers so I can't say I was disappointed in the turn out, but I certainly could have hoped for more.  The video is presented in 1080p/AVC in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  The image is decent in terms of black levels, but a stronger contrast level could have helped provide more depth to the image.  Depth is most certainly lacking.  The image is consistently dim, making it seem like your projector lamp is dying.  However, the printmaster seems to be in good shape.  Only minor dings and flecks can be noted in the image.  Film grain is even and never distracting.  Colors fluctuate a bit, but are natural for the most part.  Softness is the biggest distraction with the image.  There are instances of complete out of focus shots (which has to be attributed to the original source).  Still, much could have probably been done to sharpen up this image without creating unnatural artifacts.  Edge enhancement is present but will probably be overlooked by most.  "Cocoon" certainly could have benefited from more attention to detail in the transfer, but as it stands this is a nice little upgrade from the standard DVD if simply for the increased resolution.

The audio track is accurate to the original source material but the upmix from the original stereo track to the 5.1 surround track comes across as more of a gimmick than true to form.  The DTS-HD MA 5.1 track is largely front heavy.  Dialogue is generally clear but can get a bit muddy or bright at times.  Prioritization of the dialogue is a bit weak.  That is not to say that it is overshadowed, but simply just weak in terms of frequency response.  My biggest issue with the audio is the flutter and wow of the original source material.  There are several unnaturally occurring pitch bends that certainly should not be there.  Sound effects are limited, but the opening and closing sequences do pack a bit of a punch, but nothing close to today's sound effects.  The LFE channel is absent throughout assuming that you have full-range front speakers.  Surround engagement is poor with only a couple occurrences of discreet effects in the surrounds, which were obviously artificially implanted and completely separate from the overall mix.  The audio track is decent, but very typical of an 80's audio track that has not been given much treatment.

The Blu-ray comes with the original DVD bonus features.  All have been left in standard definition.  There is an informative audio commentary by Ron Howard.  There are five featurettes that don't cover much beyond the surface.  The disc also has some theatrical trailers and TV Spots.

"Cocoon" doesn't quite live up to all the hype it receives, but it certainly is entertaining at points.  I recommend adding this film to your collection despite the average video and audio transfers.  There is still something about the feeling this film gives you.

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