Review Covers DVD & Blu-Ray Versions Of The Movie
Cover Art and Menus: 8/10
Blah I like this cover. It’s nice to NOT see faces for once. The shield is a cool touch with that mostly real but clearly sarcastic vibe. I wouldn’t mind to have this as a poster..eh hem…anyone who buys me presents reading this?
The menu is themed for the movie, but like most menus it’s purely function over form, which is fine with me. I give up on the clever, fun, or entertaining menus. I like that they make an effort, but if the price of the disc would go down without them being more than a list of clickable links, fine with me.
- Filmmaker & Cast Commentaries – Two separate commentaries are a great thing. I could watch this movie a couple more times while listening to the cast and crew. I might not hang on their every word, but for the most part these folks are all entertaining so there isn’t a dry moment to scrape through.
- Before The Thunder – How the movie came to be, how it was created, how it was paid for, how Ben Stiller brewed the idea for 10 years and then made it a reality. It’s a good size extra, worth watching if you enjoy the movie and Stiller or any of his cast and crew. They all get their 2 cents in on this one pretty much.
- The Hot LZ – This is a comedy, yes, but there are a lot of big action sequences, stunts, massive realistic sets, and filming locations that deserve this look-see behind the scenes.
- Blowing Shit Up – I think the name says it all, but I’ll say this, I’ve never seen a comedy with so many explosions.
- Designing The Thunder – The look of the film relies on the serious details brought to the picture by the art director. It’s an amazing looking movie, no kidding. It’s not flimsy, if you know what I mean…possibly not.
- The Cast Of Tropic Thunder – We know most of them, but you get a chance to meet a couple of new comers to the big screen, along with the biggies, and the British contingency.
- Rain Of Madness – I was totally not into this ‘film’ at all. It’s kind of funny, it’s got a lot of effort behind it that’s for sure. The thing is, the fake German documentarian follows the characters in the movie before the events of the movie. It’s got a dark sense of humor and a touch of overly artsyfartsyness (which I normally like), but it’s kind of boring and lost me after about five minutes in the interest department.
- Deleted & Extended Scenes – We didn’t miss anything they cut out, so these are just some gems they wanted to commit to the digital format for some reason.
- Alternate Ending – This ending is quite a bit different in a small way, but not as satisfying as the one we get in the film, as is usually the case for me.
- Full Mags – This is Downey Jr. and Stiller doing a scene line after line after line, one more time, one more time, one more time, until they work out how to deliver their lines for the final cut. It’s fun to watch the way actors work together. It’s also interesting because Stiller is the director, so he’s directing himself, and Downey, and acting, and sweating.
- MTV Movie Awards – It’s a short skit that makes fun of the bullshit soul killing viral videos that seem to be sucking every ounce of intelligence out of a generation of idiots. Yea, I’m over 40, older and wiser than anyone who might read this and think those videos are not damaging and demoralizing to anyone who “enjoys” them.
- BD LIVE (Blu-Ray only) –More deleted scenes and reels of the actors working out their lines over and over and over. Pretty good content if you haven’t had enough on the disc.
The Movie: 8/10
“What’s the movie we’re watching next week?” I ask innocently with a hint of excitement.
“Tropic Thunder.” My husband sparks with a kind of giddy thrill.
“Oh.” As I say it the excitement leaks out along with a shoulder sagging sigh. I was now trying to psych myself up to see a movie that had been rattling my bones ever since I first heard that phrase, “go full retard” and was annoyed beyond belief. This might not be a fun movie week, which is fine. They can’t all be winners.
Fast forward to movie day. I enter the chilly movie room, pre-prepped with fuzzy blankets on the reclining theater chairs, darkened except for the light of the movie screen on the wall gloriously displaying a boring PS3 update, husband buzzing with anticipation, and me thinking this would have been a good day to drink a few glasses of wine BEFORE the movie.
It took all of ten seconds for me to tweak my head to the side and say, “hmm”. The first frames of the movie are filled with a commercial featuring an obvious send up of obnoxious rap artists who do sponsored deals for outrageous products, booty shaking videos, and are obsessed with that thing, um, bling. This commercial was followed by the first of the mock movie trailers, and now my line of vision isn’t through limp lidded judgmental eyes anymore. I was smiling, hope had returned. I started mostly with a zombie gaze waiting to roll my eyes and be irritated, so being shaken from that so quickly had to mean something good was about to happen.
We are introduced to four of the lead characters through these mock movie trailers. They are four of the main Hollywood food groups. 1. A rowdy actor who does low common denominator comedies and who has a serious drug habit. 2. An actor who takes every role so seriously he “lives” each part, and is the bad boy type in real life. 3.) An muscle bound action movie hero star who has fallen from grace by doing too many sequels and who has an ego the size of Montana. 4.) The rap dude from the commercial, young, obnoxious, and seemingly shallow and full of himself.
I say seemingly because they are not all what they…um….seem. See how clever that is? They are the stereotypical images and impressions we have of actors, which is what this movie is about. Well, one of the things. It’s about mis-conceptions we have about the famous people we drool over, and about each other. To demonstrate, Robert Downey Jr. plays an Australian actor who has a skin blackening surgery to play the role of a black army soldier in the movie inside this movie. His character plays the African American man with a certain ignorance and bold stereotypical style. The African American man he co-stars with is offended by Downey’s character’s ignorance and simplistic view of who a black man really is and how he acts, talks, and behaves.
It sounds so deep. I would have to say that’s why my prejudgment of the movie was so unfair. I did that very thing, took a few bits of information and turned them into what I thought was going to be a shitty flick. Between those more lofty ideas are a lot of fart jokes, explosions, and slap stick gags, but hey, we need balance in the universe.
The story goes like this, a director (Steve Coogan) is threatened by a big money bags (Tom Cruise) to shut down production of the cash pit Tropic Thunder action movie they are attempting to make starring the aforementioned cast, plus one actor who had only been in something like a genital herpes medical commercial and has a serious Christian-Slater-in-Heathers way about him. The movie they are making is too expensive. The actors are bitchy little jerks. The director is losing his way until the author of the book, Tropic Thunder, the guy who lived the Vietnam War saga in the first place, tells him he has to take the actors out and away from their comforts and force them to live what they are portraying.
This leads to a helicopter ride to the jungle, no assistants, no cell phones, no crew. Coogan has put cameras in the trees and handed them a script and tells them to move on through on their own. He wants raw, real, edgy. The thing is, it all goes a bit Three Amigos on them. That thing where they think they are in a movie but then it’s real and then it’s maybe real and they are not sure which is which. Again, pretty clever to work that in along with the many other layers of stories being told.
We have the drug addict giving up cold turkey and acting irrational. We have the rapper who turns out to be a decent guy, a gentleman, and good in a gun fight (even if he has no real bullets). There is the intense method actor who is having an identity crisis. The rookie actor who is the most mature of them all. And last but not least the vanity riddled action star who has become desperate to stay at top of the food chain with his bulging muscles and highly motivated talent agent. Top that off nicely with a director who has lost his patience and has this one last chance to prove himself, anyway that’s the impression we get from his despondent behavior and willingness to listen to a nutbag.
There is real action in this movie by the way. The movie they are making involves explosions and big guns, and the situation they get them selves tangled in involves explosions and big guns, so around every scene corner is another kaboom or ratatatatat. The gore is over the top, almost Monty Pythonesque, but it fits the humor of the movie, so that’s fine and dandy.
My favorite elements of the movie are Mathew McConaughey’s character and his unflinching jerkiness most of the time, but he does it with a sincerity that gave his side of the story some authenticity. The other excellent player in all this was a young boy introduced for the first time (according to the credits) who plays a rebel faction heroine manufacturing jungle operation leader. He’s convincingly ruthless and then turns around to be unbelievably clever and charming. I want to see more of this kid for sure.
The parodies, the satire, the making fun straight up of movie stars, money moguls, the whole movie making business, it’s done pretty well. Oh…speaking of Hollywood machinery, Tom Cruise is in this film. He plays a disgusting movie fat cat who is willing to do anything to make some cash. He’s loud and obnoxious and dances like, well, like nothing I’ve seen before. He’s a nasty character played beautifully by Cruise. I hope we see more of this kind of sense of humor from this mostly serious guy. He’s not bad I tell ya.
Overall I dropped my bad attitude about this movie. I loved everyone in it. The “full retard” lines blow past and it’s not even that big of a deal. I didn’t find it offensive, but then again, I’m sure some people do and that’s fine. Don’t see the movie. All I can say is that if I let that stop me I wouldn’t have had such a nice movie day with my husband who enjoyed it thoroughly and probably is watching it again as I type this review.
Audio & Video: 9/10
I was not expecting much from Tropic Thunder on Blu-Ray disc as I thought it would be done in the style of a old 70’s Vietnam war movie and not be up to today’s movies visually. Boy was I wrong. From the opening action scene it’s very clear this movie is not just a goofy comedy and has a lot of detail, which is mainly down to the movies awesome DP. This is not a film featuring tons of dark rainy scenes like Rambo. It’s mostly set in the daytime under blistering sun in some amazing jungle locations. The Blu-Ray disc uses the AVC codec to great effect with a pristine transfer that really does look incredible in most scenes. There is a little loss of detail in the films one dark scene but it’s more for effect than a visual glitch.
Audio is handled using the TRUEHD codec and really fills the entire sound field. The movie uses lots of old 70’s music that really takes over the room and pumps you up for the action that follows. The climax of the movie where they, “blow shit up” sounds as good as any effects driven event move (Inside joke if you have seen Tropic Thunder) you have seen in recent years. Overall this is a movie that can warrant repeat viewings and does look awesome in HD, highly recommended.
Regardless of the excellent extras and top quality audio/video of this blu-thingamajig, it’s not a movie I would pay more than 12 bucks for under any circumstances, director’s cut or not. I would watch it again, yes. Do I HAVE to watch it again, no. It’s got to be a cheap one people, it’s too irreverent to be a money sucking flick in any form. Let’s keep it cheap fellas…oh wait, it’s not cheap.
I’m becoming the tightwad reviewer these days, but it’s easy to do if you have to look at how much you pay for living vs. how much they want us to pay for entertainment. You will find this director’s cut version of the Blu-Ray for around $26.00 online. If you have a gift limit of thirty and the person you are buying for is a massive massive Stiller fan, fair enough. If you want to buy this as a casual watch and put on the shelf, don’t, just rent it.
Overall Score 8/10