Sunday, September 29, 2013

Dick Tracy (Blu-ray + Digital Copy)

Dick TracyWhen this film came out on the big screen in 1990 I was blown away by Director Warren Beatty's use of bright colors to give it color comic strip feel. When I saw it years ago on VHS it was just okay. Now Buena Vista Home Entertainment has given it a great BD transfer and it is bright and colorful again.

Some of the story doesn't hold up for me any more and the overdone makeup which makes nearly all the male characters look really ugly is a bit over the top but the two other things which made me love this film (besides seeing Beatty's A-list friends Dustin Hoffman and Al Pacino eating up the scenery)are the sexy double-entendres by Madonna and Stephen Sondheim's new songs (including "Sooner or Later"). When Madonna is on the screen it burns sex and the Sondheim songs are some of his most tuneful (IMHO).

Yes, EVERYONE will gripe that there are no extras not even a trailer! but as long as you know that going in, at least you have this fun film in a nice print to enjoy.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm

"Anything Phonographic"

Ah, the summer of 1990, memories of the hype surrounding Warren Beatty's Disney financed comic strip movie homage to Chester Gould's creation. 22 years later, the film looks great on blu-ray and strangely does not seem dated at all due to its 1930s setting and amazing production design. I noticed many details in the background of scenes that I had never noticed before. The tombstones in the cemetery scene have the names "Smith" and "Jones" on them blending in with the generic nature of all the businesses, cars, products etc. in the film. Madonna's tears in more than one scene are clearly visible now as well as her curves visible in crystal clear definition. The many cameos are dazzling, Charlie Korsmo is charismatic as The Kid and it turns out that The Blank was really played by the same thespian that played another character, you can see the height of the character is the same as another one! The storyline is convoluted but also very simple in that comic strip way and the overacting by most of the cast fits in with the cartoonish nature of the presentation. Oscar nominations and wins for the Stephen Sondheim, Madonna crooned blues song "Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)", art direction and makeup all well deserved. Controversial movie, loved by some and hated by others. I can see what Beatty was trying to accomplish and I think he succeeds for the most part. No extras on the blu-ray release, I guess wounds have not healed between Beatty and Disney.

Buy Dick Tracy (Blu-ray + Digital Copy) Now

I have been waiting for this movie to be released on Blu-Ray forever. It looks wonderful and all the colors are just amazing.

Very disappointed that there are NO extras at all. No commentary, no making-of.....

Read Best Reviews of Dick Tracy (Blu-ray + Digital Copy) Here

Warren Beatty's DICK TRACY followed the release of Tim Burton's "Batman" and, to a degree, was undoubtedly influenced by the 1989 blockbuster -from Danny Elfman's urgent underscoring to campy performances from a rogue's gallery of villains in heavy make-up (Al Pacino being the primary heavy), "Dick Tracy" sought to capitalize on the then-hot comic book film/TV genre. Alas, while the genre would soon stall out again (at least until "Spider-Man" launched the "Marvel era" over a decade later), the movie has surprisingly held up over the years -and ranks as superior to the original Burton "Bat" as well.

Part of the reason for the film's enduring elements come in Beatty's artistic vision: the Vittorio Storaro cinematography and Richard Sylbert production design completely evoke the 1930s design of Chester Gould's original comic books, making the movie a virtual comic-strip come-to-life. Every frame of the movie looks like a panel from its source material, and the Jim Cash-Jack Epps, Jr. script (reportedly enhanced with contributions from Bo Goldman) mixes campiness with candy-coated action effectively. The movie also works because of its amazing cast, not all of whom are recognizable under heavy make-up: in addition to Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, Paul Sorvino, James Caan, William Forsythe, and Mandy Patinkin pop up as some of Tracy's nemeses, while Seymour Cassel, Dick Van Dyke, Michael J. Pollard and Charles Durning are more recognizable in other supporting turns.

If the movie has a shortcoming, it's in its female leads: several years prior to Beatty working with Annette Bening and subsequently falling in love with his co-star, the actor/director fell for Madonna and promptly cast her as femme fatale Breathless Mahoney. Complete with original songs penned for the film by Stephen Sondheim, Madonna`s night club dame could`ve ignited sparks with Beatty`s Tracy, but her scenes end up fizzling out and stopping the movie cold while Beatty, the director, overly admires his then off-screen prize. Also a disappointment is Glenne Headley, who proves to be merely serviceable as Tracy's Girl Friday, Tess Trueheart. Sean Young claimed to have been lined up for the role but was rejected by Beatty when (she says) she refused his romantic advances -a claim that's not hard to believe given Beatty's relationships with his leading ladies (and it's too bad as well, since Young would've been preferable to Headley, particularly in that type of period role).

Nevertheless, "Dick Tracy" is great fun to look at and particularly captivating for movie buffs because of its cast. Disney's Blu-Ray edition of the film, which also includes a digital copy, doesn't offer any extras, but does, fortunately, offer a spiffy, if somewhat "soft" looking, 1080p AVC encoded HD transfer with a dynamic DTS MA 5.1 soundtrack.

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In 1931, Chester Gould's "Dick Tracy" would be featured in the publications "Detroit Mirror" and distributed by the Chicago Tribune New York News Syndicate. With its popularity, the comic strip would lead to a radio program that lasted from 1934 through 1948 and film adaptations in the 1930′s thanks to RKO. By 1950-1951, a live action TV series was created and in the early '60s, an animated series was created.

A story that revolves around a detective during the 1930′s in Chicago, Dick Tracy would catch his criminals using forensic science, high technology and intelligent wits, audiences were entertained by Dick Tracy's ability to chase down the criminal.

But in 1990, the live action film was written and directed by Warren Beatty ("Bonny & Clyde", "Reds", "Bulworth") would be released in theaters. But the journey to make the live action film was a concept that Beatty head since 1975. But as the plans for a live action films went through different creative hands and different perspectives of what kind of film would be made. But in the end, for Warren Beatty, he wanted the live action film to pay homage to the comic strip and not deviate from that.

And with Disney now having control of the film and working out a deal with Warren Beatty to write, direct and produce the film, "Dick Tracy" was officially made into a live action film. The film would star Warren Beatty but also talent such as Al Pacino, Genne Headly, Madonna, Al Pacino, Kathy Bates, Mandy Patinkin and Paul Sorvino.

And would go on to earn over $162 million worldwide in the box office.

And over 20-years-later, "Dick Tracy" will be released on Blu-ray in Dec. 2012.


"Dick Tracy" is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1). While the film does look very good on Blu-ray and does feature a new digital restoration, what makes this 1990 film look very good is its artistic direction. Warren Beatty wanted only seven colors to be used in the film in order to capture the original look of the comic strip. So, red, green, blue and yellow and a few other colors are utilized. Add in colorful outfits which look amazing with one another, such as Dick Tracy's yellow fedora and coat with the Kid's red hat and coat, the film evokes a style similar to German Expressionism, especially how buildings and the city are featured throughout the film. Set design is fantastic and the limited colors made the film look much more artistic and beautiful.

I didn't notice any artifacts, I did notice slight banding but for the most part, picture quality was good.


"Dick Tracy" is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA and French 5.1 Dolby Digital along with Spanish language tracks. There are scenes with action and machine gun shots, but primarily the film is dialogue and music driven. The film score by Danny Elfman evokes a similar musical style that he used with his previous film "Batman". So, while the musical score sounds great, as did Madonna's music which features lyrics written by acclaimed songwriter Stephen Sondheim. So, dialogue and music are crystal clear and sound great via lossless compared to its older DVD counterpart. It's important to note that "Dick Tracy" was the first film to use digital audio.

Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.


"Dick Tracy" comes with no special features.


"Dick Tracy" comes with a slipcover case and a code for the digital copy of the feature film.


I can easily remember "Dick Tracy" from my teenage years. It was a film that was featured all over television because of the couple at the time, Warren Beatty and Madonna. Plus, the major marketing that Disney put into the film. Dick Tracy was all over television and while one side featured promotion for the film and its iconic character, there was a lot of promotion for Madonna starring in the film.

For the most part, "Dick Tracy" was a fascinating film back when I saw it. I saw the film as a unique artistic expression for Warren Beatty, as he wanted to keep the homage of the comic strip in his live-action film. It was also a film that would feature Hollwood heavyweights Al Pacino and Dustin Hoffman and for me, it was a bonus treat to have my favorite film composer at the time, Danny Elfman, scoring the music for the film and legendary writer Stephen Sondheim collaborating with Madonna on the songs for "Dick Tracy".

I enjoyed "Dick Tracy" because Warren Beatty was able to create world where the seedy underground and the characters that represent the crime infested area with a different look. Humans were oddly shaped (ie. big heads or flat heads) or looked grotesque, among the criminals who looked like seedy criminals, there was a city that was featured with beautiful colors and its people sporting colorful outfits. The limited colors made "Dick Tracy" look like art and so unique, I was quite pleased with set and costume design.

And because the world of "Dick Tracy" looked different that reality and is based on a '30s comic strip, the film doesn't look like it was created in 1990, nor does the picture quality on Blu-ray make this film looked aged. Picture quality was very good and to hear the music in lossless was also a major plus for this Blu-ray release.

Personally, I felt that Warren Beatty did a remarkable job with "Dick Tracy". It's original in presentation and for its time, the use of limited colors really distinguishes the film from others. If there was any fault, unfortunately it would be the perception of the audience of its time. 1930′s heroes are not easy to promote for modern viewers. Sure, heroes such as "Superman" or "Batman" can continue to be strong thanks to its continuing push as comic books, animated series, video games and via merchandise. But with "Dick Tracy", "The Shadow" and even "The Green Hornet", these are heroes that emerged from comic strips and radio series that ended with those strips/radio series. They are no longer featured as comic book stores, animated series or in store merchandise that unfortunately, these classic heroes have been forgotten.

As I watched this film with my nine-year-old, he asked me questions of why Dick Tracy was popular since he had no special abilities. And I would make the comparison to Sherlock Holmes, Dick Tracy was a wonderful detective. But for children today, a hero in a film that saves people without special powers, is not too exciting for them. While those of us who grew up earlier enough to have known about Dick Tracy, know how iconic that character was from the '30s through the '70s and once again, in the '90s thanks to Warren Beatty.

But the biggest misconception that Disney of that era and Jeffrey Katzenberg had towards the film. Katzenberg has reportedly said that they hoped that "Dick Tracy" would earn the same box office figures as "Batman". Batman is a superhero and people are attracted to iconic superheroes and even to this day, many of those films do extremely well in the box office. But while "Dick Tracy" was profitable, part of Katzenberg's disappointment was because the film was expensive to produce and market.

But the film did well as a VHS and DVD release and now, this film is finally getting an HD treatment on Blu-ray. The film looks wonderful, the lossless soundtrack is way better than any previous home video release but unfortunately, there are no special features included.

So, while this Blu-ray release features the definitive version of "Dick Tracy" on home video, it's also a barebones Blu-ray release which in this day and age, is unacceptable. Not even the theatrical trailer is included. With so much work in trying to make this film so unique, there must be a featurette out there that could have been included on this Blu-ray release! So, while "Dick Tracy" is a pretty enjoyable film, this Blu-ray release is a bit of a let-down when it comes to the lack of special features.

Overall, "Dick Tracy" is a stylish, unique film that pays amazing homage to the original 1930′s detective. Featuring a wonderful cast, amazing set and costume design and music, "Dick Tracy" may not be known to the younger generations of movie viewers, but this is one iconic hero who received the best film adaptation thanks to director, producer and actor Warren Beatty, who successfully paid homage to the comic-strip. Whether or not we will ever see anything "Dick Tracy" related in the near future is unknown, but for those who are familiar with the iconic detective, will surely want to give this Blu-ray release a chance!

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