Outsiders, The (UK - BD RB)
Marcus hangs out with the Greasers but keeps staring at Tom Cruise's teeth
Based on the novel by S. E. Hinton, Francis Ford Coppola brings us the 1960’s story of the Tulsa, Oklahomo gang called The Greasers. When young gang member Ponyboy Curtis (C. Thomas Howell) and his friend Johnny Cade (Ralph Macchio) kill a couple of rival “Socs” gang members in self defence, the pair flee to the country and hide in an abandoned church for a while. When the church gets destroyed in a fire and the boys manage to save a couple of kids from the blaze, they are praised in the papers as heroes however Johnny is very badly burned and the death of the Socs gang members has sparked “a rumble” between the two rival gangs.
The Outsiders is of course now best known for its all star cast (Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Matt Dillon, Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze, Ralph Macchio, and Diane Lane) just before they actually became “all star” or in Tom Cruise’s case MEGA Star. That being said The Outsiders isn’t exactly a movie you’d think would launch any of its cast into bigger things, mainly because the majority of the screen time is dedicated to C. Thomas Howell (one of the kids on the BMX’s in E.T.) and Ralph Macchio (who is obviously great in The Karate Kid series but not a lot else) and not to be overly harsh but neither provide performances that feel that consistent here.
Of course a lot of this is to do with the screenplay and the era it’s attempting to depict. The dialogue is very straight forward, telling us exactly what’s going on as much as it can “they’re drunk” or “come on let’s run” and things that are that straight down the line are common place and while it feels authentic to the 50/60’s way of filmmaking, these young unseasoned actors can’t always make it sound like more than words on a page. That said and to give them some credit, they hit the nail on the head with the key scenes, so it’s all pretty acceptable as a whole.
As for the faces we all know much better, I don’t feel they really get to do much. Matt Dillon is really the only one that gets space to shine and he still plays the unsavoury meat head here like he does so well still. Rob Lowe is still playing “the good looking guy” and Tom Cruise still oozes the same over confidence even if his general look in this movie is sort of yucky. Generally I think The Outsiders is a little too romanticised for my tastes. The super life long friends aspects feel like something out of classic literature and the the to and fro between the rival gangs doesn’t feel all that real to me. I know from the extras and the commentary track that Coppola wanted to really capture the book, especially in this the “Complete Novel” cut of the film but with this one I can almost feel the pages turn as the movie plods on and with the laid back pacing and the pretty uneventful plot, the book to film adaptation doesn’t quite click with me here.
The Outsiders comes with a glossy, warm and bright presentation and given some of the styles of the era on show can look like the covers of some of those early Beach Boys album covers.
I detected the odd bit of DNR especially in faces in the first half of the film, creating a flatness to the image from time to time but somehow that fits with the looks of this film with the strong colours, fantastic light sources and generally a very clean image against both daylight and darker night settings.
While this is clearly a step up for The Outsiders I found details to be a bit inconsistent. Sometimes textures look great sometimes they are non existent. That said, for the most part it's fine with the stand out moment being when the rain comes down in the "rumble" scene, light, reflections and fire look great against the actors' wet costumes and skin.
The DTS-HD Master Audio track is great but it's not perfect. To begin with the highs. The soundtrack sounds great, from the opening 'Stay Gold' song by Stevie Wonder, which is really rich and full sounding, the music choices are all winners. The volume levels can vary but generally each track fills the speakers out and takes over in all the right ways. On the downside and countering the soundtrack is the dialogue. It can feel a bit thin and much lower than the musical choices and it has that obvious recorded in post sound to it, either way it all feels a bit flat.
As for ambience, there's a few birds here and there, a strong sense of crickets in the country and street traffic and such are generally good. These elements seem to get better as the film goes on with the creaky seats in the ambulance scene really sounding like we're inside the old car and the feeling of kids playing in the hospital is noticeably more dynamic than what came before it. All in all this is an above average track that sometimes coasts but when those musical numbers kick in they kick in with intention.
The warm and welcoming video introduction from Coppola and his commentary track made for a better viewing of the film for me. I said in my review for The Conversation recently but I really do like Coppola's tracks. Once again he doesn't seem to hold anything back, goes off on different branches when he starts on the stories about the film and its production. I do really like his honesty and it really does feel like we're getting a real insight into the director's work.
The second commentary with Matt Dillon, C. Thomas Howell, Diane Lane, Rob Lowe, Ralph Macchio and Patrick Swayze is also a good track with the group having tons of respect for each other's work. Rob Lowe carries quite a bit of the track but it really does feel like a family sitting down and watching old home movies as there's lots of shout outs to background actors and stories about the making of the film sparked from watching the scenes.
'Staying Gold: A Look Back at The Outsiders' (26:24 SD) is a great retrospective making of with tons of rehearsal footage, most of the cast (well the ones on the commentary anyway) and on set footage.
'NBC's News Today from 1983 'The Outsiders Started by School Petition'' (04:43 SD) gives us more detail on the how the making of the film came about and how a school approached Coppola to adapt their favourite novel.
'Cast Members read Excerpts from the Novel' (07:23 SD)) is video of the cast members from the commentary reading from the book and 'S.E. Hinton On Location In Tulsa (07:33 SD) is the author visiting the film's locations and giving her own history of how the book developed.
'The Casting of the Outsiders' (13:57 SD) is loads of different auditions for the film (even including some that didn't get cast). It explains the rather unique approach to the casting with all the actors mixing up playing all the roles and seeing all this footage was quite fun.
Last up we get six deleted and extended scenes (10:37 SD) and the trailer (01:07 SD).
The Outsiders has never been a film that clicked with me. I've only seen it a few times but once the fascination of seeing the familiar big stars in their early days wears off the story feels a little typical and just not all that memorable really. This Blu-ray release gets it right across the board with good A/V, great features (especially the commentaries) and a reasonable price.
* Note: The below images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over
Release Date: 31st October 2011
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English, 2.0 Stereo PCM English, Mono DTS-HD Master Audio Deutsch
Subtitles: English HoH, German
Extras: Commentaries, Featurettes, Cast Excerpts of the Novel, Trailer, Deleted Scenes
Easter Egg: No
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Cast: C. Thomas Howell, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Matt Dillon, Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze, Ralph Macchio, Diane Lane
Length: 114 minutes
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