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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Crime > Drama > Literature > The Getaway - Unrated (1994/HD-DVD)

The Getaway - Unrated (1994/HD-DVD)


Picture: B+     Sound: C+     Extras: D     Film: B-



When Quentin Tarantino heard that Hollywood was going to remake Jim Thompson’s book The Getaway, he had high hopes it would re-address the ending the hit 1972 film left up in the air without examination.  That hope was dashed for him when he soon discovered the same Walter Hill screenplay was being utilized, but the resulting film turned out to be better than expected and offered more of an edge than was given credit for.


This time, Alec Baldwin and then-wife Kim Basinger took over the Steve McQueen/Ali McGraw roles as the married couple out to steal a fortune and leave the country.  Touted at the time for the nude sex scenes they shared, now ironic for the unfortunately very public break-up they are still sadly going through, it is the better of the two films they made together and thanks to the directing of Roger Donaldson is one of the best films either of them ever made.


Basinger was one of the sexiest stars of the time (in some ways, still is) and Baldwin was peaking as a leading man and made The Shadow at the same time, which also did not become the hit it should have been.  Nevertheless, he survived and is now one of the most in-demand actors in Hollywood as this arrives on HD-DVD.  Hopefully, that will lead to new interest in this film.


His Doc McCoy was trickled out of serious money and became the scapegoat for the heist that landed him in prison.  Now, he wants revenge in all kinds of ways and his wife may just help out.  The cast is also impressive, including another potent, cold, evil, dark performance by Michael Madsen (one of his best ever), James Woods as another bad guy, David Morse, Richard Farnsworth, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Jennifer Tilly in a performance that is not as easy as it looks.  They have chemistry, energy, mesh well together and the film offers the right measures of action and suspense worthy of the original.


Unfortunately, the end titles song by Richard Marx was a bigger hit than the film, but the film holds up very well.  Donaldson just finished another solid thriller, White Sands (on a decent DVD, Warner needs to issue that gem in HD ASAP) and was in the mode to do the best possible work.  Now, you can see for yourself.


The 1080p VC-1 digital 2.35 X 1 High Definition image was shot by Peter Menzies, Jr., who made his Director of Photography debut on White Sands, shooting this in real anamorphic Panavision.  The result is a very good looking film that shames most thrillers now.  Menzies quickly moved onto the underrated third Die Hard film, where he broke ground shooting in lesser Super 35.  As for the sound, it was a solid DTS theatrical release and in its exclusive 12” DTS LaserDisc edition was demo material.  It was that good in theaters and home theaters, but something very wrong happened on this HD-DVD.


Available in Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 and higher-fidelity Dolby TrueHD, it is obvious the original DTS sound master was not applied for the mixes present and the results sound like a secondary Dolby 5.1 mix badly boosted.  How this was ruined is inexplicable, but like The Last Starfighter, Universal and others using Dolby TrueHD should not offer higher fidelity tracks like that unless they use the best possible materials.  The result is no better than the upgrade on the 1972 film!


And to top it all off, there are completely no extras.  Too bad, because it is a very interesting A-level action film and with Donaldson moving on to hits and triumphs like Species and The World’s Fastest Indian (reviewed elsewhere on this site), a new audio commentary would have been nice.  And to think Baldwin and Basinger almost did Eyes Wide Shut?



For more on the original Getaway, read our HD-DVD review at this link:





-   Nicholas Sheffo


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