Tropic Thunder (2008) - Director's Cut [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Action / Adventure / Comedy / War
DreamWorks || Unrated - 120 minutes - $39.99 || November 18, 2008
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2008-12-06


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Ben Stiller
Writer(s): Ben Stiller & Justin Theroux (story), Ben Stiller & Justin Theroux and Etan Cohen (screenplay)
Cast: Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr., Steve Coogan, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, Brandon T. Jackson, Bill Hader, Nick Nolte, Tom Cruise


Theatrical Release Date: August 13, 2008


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Filmmakers' Commentary
  • Cast Commentary
  • Before the Thunder
  • The Hot LZ
  • Blowing S#%t Up
  • Designing the Thunder
  • The Cast of Tropic Thunder
  • Rain of Madness
  • Dispatches from the Edge of Madness
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes
  • Alternate Ending
  • Make-Up Test with Tom Cruise
  • Full Mags
  • Video Rehearsals


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby TrueHD 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese

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.::THE FILM::.

[Note: Most of this review taken from the DVD release other than audio, video and certain special features.]

“I’m a dude, playing a dude disguised as another dude.”

Plot Synopsis: When three of Hollywood’s biggest stars head into the jungles of Vietnam to shoot a war movie, they have no idea how real things can get. The director of the project, rookie Damien Cockburn (Coogan) can’t control his highly-paid, prima donna, superstars and so, with the help of the man (Nolte) whose book the film is based upon, they drop the main cast into the jungle where, after an unfortunate accident, find themselves going up against Vietnamese drug lords (of course, it is believed they are part of the story).

Satires on the world of Hollywood can be hit or miss. Sometimes they’re brilliantly hilarious, other times they’re pretentious to the point of being annoying. One of the best satires is Robert Altman’s The Player starring Tim Robbins. Tropic Thunder goes further. It’s not just a lampoon on Hollywood but on the over-the-top, over-budget action movies.

What makes Tropic Thunder so great is it’s anything but pretentious and, get this, actually funny! The entire cast works well together from Jack Black, Ben Stiller and Robert Downey Jr. in one of most memorable roles since Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean. Not sure if it’s Oscar nomination worthy (I question Depp’s nod), but it is easily one of funniest performances I’ve seen lately. Well, the second funniest behind... an unrecognizable Mr. Tom Cruise.

The film was co-written, produced and directed by Ben Stiller who worked alongside Justin Theroux (actor on Miami Vice, writing the upcoming Iron Man 2) on the story with Etan Cohen (Madagascar 2) doing some screenplay work.

Tropic Thunder co-stars Jay Burachel (Knocked Up), Brandon T. Jackson (Roll Bounce) and Mr. Laid Back himself, Matthew McConaughey as Stiller’s agent. Also look for cameos from Tobey Maguire, Kevin Pollak, Christine Taylor and Jennifer Love Hewitt.

This DVD is the “Director’s Cut” and features about 13-minutes of new footage. Unlike other extended/director’s cuts, the extra scenes don’t detract from the film as a whole, though at the same time, it doesn’t necessarily make for a better movie either. The new stuff includes a “One Week” celebration for the film crew getting through a week of shooting. Since I saw this in theaters, I could spot the new stuff right away, but it would’ve been nice if Paramount/DreamWorks would’ve included the theatrical version on this release. If you want that version, you’ll have to purchase the 1-disc edition...



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

DreamWorks Home Entertainment presents Tropic Thunder on Blu-ray with all the features on a single disc (vs. DVD which is spread across 2 discs). Features in HD where noted.

Filmmakers’ Commentary – This first track features Director/Producer/Co-Writer/Star Ben Stiller, Producer Stuart Cornfeld, Production Designer Jeff Mann, Co-Writer/Executive Producer Justin Theroux, Editor Jeff Hayden and DP John Toll.

Cast Commentary – Stars Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr. and Jack Black sit down for an enjoyable commentary where they each share their experiences making the film and other behind-the-scenes stories. And, true to his word, Downey does stay in character for this track.

Before the Thunder (4:49; HD) looks at how the project came to be dating back 10 years ago and the changes Ben Stiller and co-writer Justin Theroux made throughout the years.

The Hot LZ (6:23; HD) is about filming the advance helicopter scenes and getting the shots right to match other Vietnam movies like Apocalypse Now.

Blowing Shit Up (6:16; HD) shows off the fire/explosive power in the special effects department. We are introduced to various crew members and look at test footage.

Designing the Thunder (7:29; HD) is the final of the ‘behind-the-scenes’ extras that goes into the set design and location scouting in Hawaii, filming in remote locations to build different sets.

These could’ve been combined into one ‘making-of’ featurette considering this is all there is of actual ‘behind-the-scenes’ footage related to the actual movie...

Next up is The Cast of Tropic Thunder (22:02; HD) where we get introductions and interviews with cast members Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr., Jack Black, Brandon T. Jackson, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride and Nick Nolte.

Rain of Madness (29:56; HD) and Dispatches from the Edge of Madness (22:55) are two mock documentaries about the failure of the “Tropic Thunder” production filming in Vietnam and the meltdown of the director. Features Justin Theroux playing the fake documentary host.

Deleted Scenes / Extended Sequences (14:49; HD) – 4 deleted or extended scenes have been included with one video introduction and 3 optional commentaries with Ben Still and Editor Greg Hayden. There is also an Alternate Ending (3:29; HD), also with an optional commentary, that finds Speedman’s agent captured by the Vietnamese drug lords.

Finally, there are a few odds and ends: Make-Up Test with Tom Cruise (1:38; HD), the hilarious MTV Movie Awards Skit (4:05), Full Mags (aka Raw Footage) (33:17; HD) and Video Rehearsals (3:02; HD). The last two contain video introductions with Stiller and Hayden.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

Tropic Thunder comes to Blu-ray on a single 50GB disc with an AVC MPEG-4 codec and in 1080p high-def. The video quality on this disc looks great. Details are very crisp, clean and clear and even night shots which normally expose any shortfalls, looks great too. Colors are also right in line between the jungle greens or fire yellow of over-the-top action sequences.

Although I was not overly impressed with the Dolby TrueHD track, overall it is a fine audio experience and close to what I recall at the theater. However, I did not get some of the impact during the action scenes, though dialogue and ambient noise do sound great with even the rear channels getting good use. This may not be demo quality, but it is more than satisfactory for home viewing.



.::OVERALL::.

Tropic Thunder is a funny movie and one of the best Hollywood insider flicks since Altman’s The Player. Not only do you have a memorable performance/transformation from Entertainment Weekly’s “Entertainer of the Year” Robert Downey Jr. and a great cameo by Tom Cruise.

The Blu-ray release has great video and very good, though slightly disappointing audio but overall this is a no-brainer purchase getting solid features, great audio/video and a satirically funny film. This is one movie that is worth the extra cost upgrade over the DVD counterpart.