Grease (1978) - Rockin' Rydell Edition [Blu-ray]
|Genre(s): Comedy / Musical / Romance|
|Paramount || PG - 110 minutes - $29.99 || May 5, 2009|
|Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2009-05-04|
Writer(s): Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey (musical), Allan Carr (adaptation), Bronte Woodard (screenplay)
Cast: John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing, Jeff Conaway, Barry Pearl, Michael Tucci, Kelly Ward, Didi Conn
Theatrical Release Date: June 16, 1978
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“Grease is the word.”
I’m not the biggest fan of musicals on film though something like Chicago really impressed me and at the same time, another beloved musical such as Rent bored the hell out of me. So, I went cautiously into my first viewing of Grease, the original musical turned film.
Even though Grease didn’t blow me away in terms of acting or style, the songs in it from the sentimental “Summer Nights” that starts things off with a nice tone to famous and catchy “You’re the One That I Want”, a song that will frustratingly stay in your head for the rest of the day.
In comparison to something like Rent, Grease is probably the best that features some innocence with in your face sexuality without going over the line and taking the focus off what you’re watching. The story may not meld together as well as I’d hope and even the chemistry between the two leads isn’t entirely well developed. The catchy songs and the actual charisma from then star on the rise John Travolta – his second film in a three-picture deal with Paramount, culminating with Urban Cowboy – is quite charming and shows that same command for the camera as he did a year earlier in Saturday Night Fever.
Travolta’s career has gone from all-time highs with Saturday Night Fever and Grease early on before starring in such clunkers like Staying Alive, Look Who’s Talking Too and Look Who’s Talking Now before making a comeback in 1994 with Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction before falling off with such more stinkers after the abysmal Battlefield Earth. Currently he has The Taking of Pelham 123 co-starring Denzel Washington and directed by Tony Scott.
Even though I can’t say Grease is one of the greatest movies (so don't flame me), I still highly recommend it for those who have yet to see it, but don’t go in with the high expectations you might hear. In any case, whether a true classic or not, I still love the music, it’s music that will get even the most introvert to tap their foot and even get up and dance... not that I did anything of the sort. And that’s where Grease succeeds as from the first major musical number, there’s a certain adrenaline rush that comes about with each musical number that flows nicely to the next.
All features have been ported over from the “Rockin’ Rydell Edition” released in 2007.
Director & Choreographer Commentary - Director Randal Kleiser and choreographer Patricia Birch join together giving out little tid-bits about the filming, what was in the original stage play, what was new and the normal kind of info one expects. The entire track is very cordial, though also a bit on the ordinary side as far as commentaries goes.
Rydell Sing Along - You can watch each of the 11 musical numbers with the words below (karaoke style) individually or for the entire movie. Probably would’ve worked better without the actual singing and just the instrumentals, but as someone who should never sing, needless to say, I didn’t try.
The Time, the Place, the Motion: Remembering Grease (21:54) - Having watched the original 20th retrospective, I know they just took snippets from those interviews and maybe mixed it up with new footage with the director and a few others to make this version. It goes a bit deeper that the original but either one gives insight into how surprised those involved were about the success the film had.
Deleted/Extended/Alternate Scenes (10:15) - There are 11 scenes with an optional intro from the director. They’re featured in non-anamorphic widescreen and in black and white. Most of them are indeed extended of scenes already in the film and most, if not all, don’t really add much but still cool to watch.
Grease on DVD Launch Party (15:12) - Probably a first for a DVD feature, this shows the party for the initial DVD release three years ago, but I am glad they featured it as we get to see Travolta and Newton-John perform some of the music on stage together as well as “Summer Nights” with the rest of the cast. Certainly fun watching all of them together again and having so much fun.
Grease Memories from John & Olivia (3:22) - This is just an extension of the interview footage filmed on the red carpet at the aforementioned launch party. You’re not going to learn much more from this, but you get to see once again the sparkle in both Travolta and Newton-John’s eyes concerning their time working on Grease.
The Moves Behind the Music (7:48) - Featurette focuses on the dance moves and choreography with interviews primarily with director Kleiser and choreographer Birch. It’s a good companion piece to go with their commentary but it won’t enlighten you with much else since behind the scenes footage is rare.
Thunder Roadsters (4:54) - The sole throwaway featurette on the disc just has more interviews with the producer, director and owners of the classic cars some of which are supped up, others restore them.
John Travolta and Allan Carr / Olivia Newton-John and Robert Stigwood “Grease Days” Interviews (3:50) - I’ve combined these two as they’re both filmed when Grease was released and neither provide much more info. But, like some of the other worthless stuff, this is nice for nostalgia value.
The original theatrical trailer is also available.
.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.
Grease on Blu-ray (1080p HD) looks OK but I noticed that in certain scenes the video was awfully soft, almost blurry and yet the same scene, next shot, it looks fine again. I don’t think it was the director’s choice/style. In any case, the rest of the movie looks fine but it is a 30+ year old movie so you’re not going to get a huge upgrade over the DVD version. The Blu-ray is presented with a 2.40 aspect ratio and on a 25GB disc.
The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio sounds good and with a musical, you do get a nice audio experience. Dialogue levels via the center channel was good while the front and rear speakers were used for musical numbers and ambient noise. This isn’t going to be the best audio you’ve heard but for the film’s age, it is still pretty good.
Even though I did not quite get into it as much as some, I still felt that same kind of energy, so much that I understand why Grease has lasted and why it will be around for some time to come. Is the Blu-ray worth the upgrade over the DVD release? Well, the video is fairly average and the audio is decent enough. If you can find this disc on sale at some point in the future (< $14), then it might be worth it, otherwise hang on to your DVD for the time being.