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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Romance > Alcohol > Drama > Pool > Gambling > Crime > Kidnapping > Murder > Musical > Rock Opera > Poli > Cocktail (1988)/The Color Of Money (1986)/Evita (1996)/Ransom (1996/Touchstone/Hollywood/Disney Blu-rays)

Cocktail (1988)/The Color Of Money (1986)/Evita (1996)/Ransom (1996/Touchstone/Hollywood/Disney Blu-rays)


Picture: B-/C/B/B-     Sound: B-/C+/B/B-     Extras: D/D/C+/C-     Films: C-/B/B/C-



Here are four back catalog films that Disney so values that they are releasing them directly instead of through another company.



Roger Donaldson’s Cocktail (1988) is a nearly cynical, silly date movie that has Tom Cruise going to business school, but taking a night job at a bar that is half a Broadway-style theatrical performance (dancing while spinning bottles of hard liquor) in a film not on AA’s list of recommended film or should be much on anyone else’s list.  A silly mall movie and date movie, Cruise works at Bryan Brown’s bar, wants to be with Elisabeth Shue and still get to know some other ladies at the bars maybe.  The script is shallow, silly and everyone is at least a half-dumb cartoon.


It also features horrid 1980s songs like Hippie Hippie Shake and the especially brain-destroying Don’t Worry, Be Happy, though it also boasts a #1 hit for The Beach Boys in Kokomo, which does not sound like there better songs or have the character of their last big uncredited chart work, backing Chicago a decade or so earlier on Wishing You Were Here.  It was a calculated, marketed hit and it worked, but it is also a very dated relic and time capsule of its time.  Donaldson is a much better director than this (see White Sands or The Bank Job) but does fluff like this to be commercially viable, but he and everyone else here are above this and they almost know it.


Even Paul Benedict (Mr. Bentley on the hit TV series The Jeffersons) plays Cruise’s one strict business teacher and seems a little out of his element, though he is as good as anyone here acting wise.  There are no extras, including any Music Videos, so that is a good thing.



Toying with whether to stay a filmmaker, Martin Scorsese turned in one of his most commercial films with The Color Of Money (1986), a belated sequel to Robert Rossen’s pool table playing drama The Hustler (1959) both with Paul Newman as “Fast Eddie” Felson.  You can read about the original film on Blu-ray at this link:





Though the remake is not as dirty (some have criticized it is at times like a recycling of Rocky at points), its flaws are offset by Scorsese’s smart directing, a performance by Newman that finally got him a Best Actor Academy Award, Tom Cruise in some breakthrough work, the underrated Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio in her early prime, John Turturro in his early prime and an all-around solid cast backed by a smart Richard Price screenplay.


A rare sequel that works, it became Scorsese’s biggest hit to that time and still managed to be streetwise and dark enough to work, though it still seems stuck in the 1980s and some of the choices of music (like Phil Collins’ obnoxious (what songs of his are not) One More Night) not what you would ever find in any Scorsese film.  It is worth seeing on its own, but works much better when you see The Hustler first.


Sadly, there are no extras.



Many wondered if Alan Parker was wise to have Madonna take on the title role in the musical Evita (1996) that had been played by so many on stage and in dramatic works, but the contract was signed and the resulting film is pretty good.  Playing opposite Antonio Banderas, Jonathan Pryce and a great cast of more people who should be more known by now, Madonna got serious about this and it worked well enough.  Despite the most famous song (Don’t Cry For Me Argentina) and the new song written for the film (You Must Love Me), this is actually a Rock Opera like Tommy and that is easy to forget because the Disney promo was more interested in selling it as a smart, calm musical.


It was a hit and has some fine moments in what is Parker’s last strong film.  He has been bashed for his music work, but has a good track record with the underrated Bugsy Malone (1976, his first film), original Fame (better than that horrid remake), The Commitments (all reviewed elsewhere on this site) and inarguable Pink Floyd The Wall show he has music as a major component of his legacy and this is as good as any of those films.


Best of all, it has the excess of that subgenre/genre and does not sell out or lose its edge trying to be corporate friendly or politically correct, so the result is a musical that holds up nicely and still remains a little bit underappreciated.  If you have never seen it, this is the way top go outside of a good 35mm film print.


Extras include a Making Of featurette, Teaser Trailer and Music Video for You Must Love Me.



Last and more or less least is Ron Howard’s very commercially successful remake of Ransom (1996) with Mel Gibson freaking out (like we have not seen more of that since) when his rich businessman character and his wife (Renee Russo) have their son kidnapped.  Originally written by Cyril Hume (Forbidden Planet, the original 1932 Tarzan The Ape Man) and Richard Maibaum (most of the Bond films to 1989) and was even adapted by the very capable Richard Price (Color Of Money) and Alexander Ignon, but it is really dull and predictable.


The problem is not Howard, but that the original film was really not that good, so all we get is a mall-safe kidnapping film that has nowhere much top go and can only run on what used to be Gibson’s star power.  It is not very memorable and even a supporting cast that includes Gary Sinise, Lily Taylor, Delroy Lindo, Donnie Wahlberg (yes, he can act just like his brother, which is good), Live Schreiber and Brawley Nolte can’t make it really work.  Even Howard is directing professionally, but all we get is competent corporate product that made money.  It does not hold up well either.


Extras include Deleted Scenes, “What Would You Do? Cast/crew featurette, International Theatrical trailer, Behind-The Scenes featurette and feature length audio commentary by Ron Howard.



The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on all here but the 2.35 X 1 on Evita show a range of quality that goes from shockingly bad to could be better.  The worst transfer here is on Money, despite the fact that the film was recently restored, this looks like a bad old 720p transfer recycled and follows Gangs Of New York as the second Scorsese film Disney has botched on Blu-ray.  Color is awful, detail worn, grain and noise all over the place, depth flat and is not representative of the film at its best or from the new restoration.  Why?


Cocktail is not so good either, showing wear and a certain flatness outside of the 1980s flatness it always had.  Ransom is almost as problematic, only saved by looking a little better by being a newer film and having a little more style.  That makes Evita the playback image champ with Director of Photography Darius Khondji (Se7en, Alien Resurrection, Panic Room, Midnight In Paris) using darkness effectively and not overdoing it, while still delivering great visual character including visuals that further the narrative.  In addition, he uses the wide scope frame very effectively at a time even then when cameramen were loosing that ability or interest or even realizing how they were botching the scope frame themselves.


All four Blu-rays offer DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes, but Cocktail (original an old analog Dolby-A presentation) is weak, Money is at least one generation down sonically as to be problematic (and not typically Scorsese), as is Ransom to a surprising extent, leaving Evita the only one of the four to sound really good.  That is ironic since some previous multi-channel home video versions had issues and were substandard.  I don’t know if this is totally accurate or a well-rounded sound presentation, but it is pretty close to what I experienced when I saw it theatrically in 35mm when it was first released.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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