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DVD REVIEW

Who Framed Roger Rabbit  VISTA SERIES  (1988)

 

Starring: Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd
Director: Robert Zemeckis

Rating: PG

Studio: Touchstone Pictures

Review Posted: 3.31.03

Spoilers: Minor

 

Reviewed by Dennis Landmann

 

Synopsis

 

It's 1947 Hollywood and Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins), a down-on-his-luck detective, is hired to find proof that Marvin Acme, gag factory mogul and owner of Toontown, is playing hanky-panky with femme fatale Jessica Rabbit, wife of Maroon Cartoon superstar, Roger Rabbit. When Acme is found murdered, all fingers point to Roger, and the sinister, power-hungry Judge Doom (Christopher Lloyd) is on a mission to bring Roger to justice. Roger begs the Toon-hating Valiant to find the real evildoer and the plot thickens as Eddie uncovers scandal after scandal and realizes the very existence of Toontown is at stake!

 

Critique

 

Who Framed Roger Rabbit is perhaps one of the greatest achievements of the late 80’s. The film is not only spectacular in its special effects, but it also benefits from a very intriguing story and Bob Hoskins’ ingenious performance.

 

The film, directed by Robert Zemeckis, began shooting in 1986 and took nearly two years to release (including one year spent in post production). What makes Roger Rabbit work is the interaction between the human characters and the toons. It is a very believable sight when Eddie Valiant and Roger Rabbit share the screen, especially in the bar fight sequence and the cabbie chase, among others. Another great attraction to this film is the story. The story is essentially a (murder) mystery set in an innocent time (in the late 40s) featuring a group of incredible and funny characters. In addition, the story allows the viewer to relate to what is happening in terms of self-investigating.

 

Running at 104 minutes, Who Framed Roger Rabbit is funny to the bone and extraordinarily sweet. In one sentence, Roger is excellent entertainment.

 

9 out of 10

 

The Video

 

The 2-disc set comes in two different formats. Disc 1 features the fullscreen (1.33:1) version while Disc 2 holds the widescreen (1.85:1) version. Both formats present good quality, albeit varied in some spots. The widescreen version is far superior simply because there’s more picture. This Vista Series release offers an exciting new transfer over the previous DVD release. Even though quite a lot of flickering occurs in some key scenes, especially those that feature Valiant and Roger Rabbit, the picture quality retains its essence and displays a colorful presentation.

 

8 out of 10

 

The Audio

 

The royal treatment doesn’t stop here. Roger Rabbit is available in DTS 5.1 Surround Sound, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound, and includes French and Spanish language tracks. In addition to these options, you have the choice to optimize your sound fields by selecting the THX Optimizer. The Dolby Digital track worked best for my system and the viewing experience was greatly enhanced by it. The DTS is a great addition, too, but I would never use it. Who Framed Roger Rabbit is clearly dependent on its special effects and sound effects. The audio presents a lot of noise to go around the system, may it be the front, back, or rear speakers.

 

8 out of 10

 

The Extras

  • Commentary by director Robert Zemeckis and Frank Marshall, Jeffrey Price, Peter Seaman, Steve Starkey & Ken Ralston - This track is actually pretty entertaining (these guys still remember it after 15 years) and not overly technical, which is actually a relief.

  • Who Made Roger Rabbit featurette

  • Behind the Ears: The True Story of Roger Rabbit new documentary - This in-depth documentary is well worth your time and chronicles all areas of the film's production with exciting set footage and interviews.

  • Set-top game, Trouble in Toontown

  • Deleted scene, "The Pig Head Sequence" - Robert Zemeckis introduces this deleted scene and his explanation for leaving this one out is pretty evident despite the scene being decent.

  • Toon Stand-Ins featurette - How did Bob Hoskins know where Roger Rabbit would be standing? This featurette shows you how rubber figures of the toons were used to guide the actors.

  • Toontown Confidential--pop-up style trivia viewing mode - Familiar info subtitle track, but really only worth viewing once.

  • The Valiant Files--interactive set-top gallery

  • Split screen comparison - Blue screen shots compared to the final composite. Fun to watch and realize the ingenuity of the effects.

  • Companion booklet and collectable glossy - The booklet is quite informative and its design is pretty darn neat.

  • Roger Rabbit shorts: Tummy Trouble, Rollercoaster Rabbit, and Trail Mix-Up - Available on the family friendly Disc 1 and worth checking out once or twice.

10 out of 10

 

Overall

 

The Vista Series continues its updates of classic titles and Who Framed Roger Rabbit is a perfect addition to the series. This is a film so funny, revolutionary, and smart that with the major video and audio improvements combined with the special features makes for an excellent DVD. I highly recommend this DVD to anyone with a sense of humor and appreciation of film history. Roger Rabbit is a definite "buy" recommendation.

 

Overall DVD Rating: 9 out of 10

 

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