Written by William Hjortsberg
Directed by Ridley Scott
Starring Tom Cruise, Mia Sara, Tim Curry, David Bennent, Alice Playten
- Running audio commentary by director Scott
- Director’s cut version of the film
- “Lost scenes”
- Bryan Ferry music video
- Photo gallery
Released by: Universal.
Rating: NR; though it’s not much more intense than the original version, which was PG.
My Advice: Nice, but why wouldn’t you just get the Ultimate 2-disc edition?
Welcome to a ginormous enchanted forest, where a wild young man by the name of Jack (Cruise) hangs out and courts and is courted by the lovely Princess Lily (Sara). They have a pretty good time (even though the pollen appears to be the size of bowling balls) and are madly in love. So in love is Jack, that he takes the opportunity to show Lily something that few humans can (or should) see: unicorns. However, this little field trip takes an unsuspected and potentially lethal detour thanks to the machinations of the evil lord Darkness (Curry).
Well, full disclosure is necessary here: I’m a sucker for fantasy films. Hell, I’m one of the five people on the planet who enjoyed Willow. And I absolutely dig this one, for a number of obvious reasons. First up, Tim Curry’s Darkness is absolutely incredible. A Rob Bottin masterpiece, Darkness is a ginormous, bull-horned, spiky-chinned, glowing-eyed, hoofed Satan of the highest order. And Curry not only manages to make his voice match the power inherent in that character, but he also acts even though they’ve pretty much replaced his entire body. Cruise, then twenty-three, makes for a decent innocent hero. Mia Sara looks even better when she’s Dark Lily than when she’s Good Lily. Wowzers. And of course, you have the forest’s denizens, including the immortal Billy Barty and David Bennent, who somehow (don’t ask) I did not realize was the same “kid” from The Tin Drum. Of course, when I first saw this I was a young Widge, and I probably had never heard of The Tin Drum. So slack, please.
Scott is a master at creating a world that looks lived in. Sometimes he even does it to excess (sorry–Alien). Here, he’s doing a helluva job since it was shot mostly indoors on the Bond stage at Pinewood. It’s very easy to accept the world, especially since Rob Bottin populates it with some crazy-ass creatures, from goblins to giant ogres to Meg Mucklebones (again, I was amazed to find out this was Robert Picardo–though I knew that years back). So visually the film is a treat. And with an additional twenty minutes (and the Jerry Goldsmith score) restored for this director’s cut version, it’s worth rewatching. I always felt that Jon Anderson’s vocals howling out of the screen was a little much, so it’s nice to hear what we were supposed to hear in the first place.
Basically, this single-disc edition of the film is missing the complete screenplay and the original U.S. theatrical release version of the film that came on the two-disc “Ultimate” edition. Everything else is intact. Scott’s commentary is very informative and packed with details. You get an appreciation for just how damn big that Bond stage is, the word on why David Bennent was completely dubbed over (I wish we still had that original audio), and changes that he had to make based on time and money. Hint: you think Evil Mia Sara is hot, Evil Catgirl Mia Sara would have been hotter. Ah well.
I won’t mention the scary 80s music video, but we can talk about the “Lost Scenes.” One is found footage of the original opening, which frankly I’m glad got lost. It’s fascinating to watch, rough as it is, but it would have been detrimental, I think, to start the film that way. That goes the same for a fairy dance sequence, recreated with the original audio track, photos from the set and storyboards. It seems cute and all, but it, from what I can see here, is more Disney than adult fairy tale. So the film’s again, better off without it.
While this single-disc has the best of the best from the two-disc, considering the price point between the two (the two-disc is cheaper as I write this), why wouldn’t you just go ahead and go for the Ultimate?