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A fully remastered picture and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio make this compilation leap off the screen. A tribute to the golden-era of movie musicals and the studio that essentially made the medium, these four discs are full of wholesome entertainment. There is something sweeping and epic about these clips and performances, the grand scale on which these were mounted interspersed with classic solo dances from Fred Astaire and many others. Seeing the full body in motion, fluid and in long takes without cuts is really the only way photographed dance should be seen. The beauty of the art form in all its striking color and sound is simply a joy. Plus, some non-dance sequences are here from the Marx Brothers, Abbott & Costello, and the like, highlighting the intricate choreography of physical comedy as well as classic verbal timing.
The 1.85:1 anamorphic picture is beautiful and lush, the Technicolors and tones are full and sharp, and the orchestral overtures and individual instruments pop from the surrounds, full of grandeur and effect. The bonus disc has five hours of premiere coverage for all three films, the history of MGM tributes, and an excerpt from a 1976 Mike Douglas Show taped on an MGM soundstage, showcasing the opening of Part 2, with interviews from Astaire, Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, Ann Miller, and more. With the success of Chicago and Moulin Rouge, hopefully people will have an interest in this lost-but-not-dead genre to see how it all started.—Tony DeCarlo
DVD: The Untouchables Special Collector's Edition—Paramount
When I see the words "special collector's edition" on a DVD cover, I expect bonus materials that don't just go beyond run-of-the-mill—they go beyond special, otherwise the package would simply be a special edition. If you're going to throw the word "collector's" into the mix, you'd better be prepared to meet a mighty high standard, and the new Untouchables DVD falls short of that mark.
Admittedly, the new single-disc release (there's your first clue) is better than the original 2001 release, which isn't saying much, since the original's only hint of an extra was a trailer. The new disc has five featurettes that provide about an hour's worth of content: four that explore the script and cast, production stories, mobster genre, and film's score and one that's mysteriously entitled "Original Featurette: The Men." Original in what sense? It wasn't on the original DVD, and it's as generic as they come.
Beyond the brevity issue, how can a special collector's edition not include new interviews with the film's three principal actors: Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, and Robert De Niro? Director Brian de Palma's reflections are nice, but they would've been nicer as part of a full-length commentary track.
Even the disc's A/V quality isn't a huge improvement. This disc shares the original's 2.35:1 anamorphic picture; while black level and color reproduction are solid, sporadic scratches and dirt are evident, especially in early scenes. The soundtrack gets an upgrade from Dolby Digital 5.1 to EX; however, since the surrounds primarily serve to augment that memorable film score, the rear channel is hardly necessary.
I appreciate Paramount's attempt to right past wrongs and give worthy films better DVD treatment; I just think they need to be a little more careful with their nomenclature.—Adrienne Maxwell