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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Cocoon
Cocoon
Fox // PG-13 // June 1, 2004
List Price: $14.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted June 15, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Recommended
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P R I N T
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The Movie:

Ron Howard is one of the few child actors to not only avoid the pitfalls of drug and alcohol abuse that many in Hollywood fall prey to, but to also have a successful career in movies as an adult.   Howard picks his projects carefully, and always manages to turn out a decent picture.  While some of his movies have not had the box office tally that he may have wished, all of them have been quality works that are very entertaining.  As the follow-up to his first big success, Splash, Ron Howard settled on making an intimate science fiction film:  Cocoon.

Arthur (Don Ameche,) Benjamin (Wilford Brimley,) and Joseph (Hume Cronyn) are living in a retirement home slowly watching thier last days pass by.  They only adventure they have is regularly breaking into a vacant estate and using the swimming pool.  One-day things change.  A group of four people rent the house, so the older trio can't swim there any more.

This group of slightly odd and quiet people also rents a boat owned by Jack (Steve Guttenberg) for 27 days.  They direct him to a remote area of the ocean and where they go diving and raise large spherical objects which they keep covered from view at all times.  They take these strange rocks and put them in the pool.

Witnessing the unloading of the mysterious objects one day, Arthur, Ben, and Joseph hypothesize that they are running drugs.  If that's the case, they don't feel guilty about breaking in and using their pool while they are out at sea.

The next day they break in again and find the rock like objects at the bottom of the pool.  Though they think it's strange, it doesn't stop them from swimming.  And what a swim they have.  The water seems to energize them, making them feel younger than they have in years.  Not only that, but it cures them of the their minor aches and pains and their larger medical problems too.  They have stumbled upon the fountain of youth.

They now go swimming every day and dance at night.  But when the renters return early one day, the group of trespassers hide in a closet and discover that the people harvesting the strange rocks aren't normal.  They are aliens.

Coming out as it did a few years after E.T., comparisons are bound to be made between these two pictures.  But they really aren't that similar.  Yes, both movies involve benevolent aliens, and don't concentrate on action the way most SF films do, but the similarities end there.  Cocoon is a simple and touching picture about people who don't want to grow old, something that everyone can relate to.

The acting is excellent.  Don Ameche won an Academy Award for his performance, and the rest of the cast did an equally superb job.  This movie boasts a wonderful ensemble cast with some stellar talent including Maureen Stapleton, Jessica Tandy, and Jack Gilford.  My favorite scene is when Wilford Brimley has a chat with his grandson while fishing near the end of the movie.  It isn't powerful or emotional, just a conversation between two people that is touching in its simplicity.

And that is the appeal of this film.  It doesn't have large explosions or great dramatic moments; it is a quiet and gentle movie that is still fun to watch.  There is a little mystery, a little suspense, and some humor mixed in, but the main attraction to this film is the watching these people whose life has all but ended rediscover the joys of living.  A movie the whole family can enjoy.

The DVD:


Audio:

The 4.1 (not 5.1) English audio track to this movie was firm with a wide range.  Both the gentle sounds of waves slapping against the hull of a boat and the forceful music in the climactic scene sounded crisp and clear.  The music came through particularly well adding to the feel of the movie.  This is a very good sounding DVD. There were also Dolby Sourround audio tracks in Spanish and French and subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.

Video:

This DVD gives you the choice of watching the movie with a pan-and-scan formatted version on one side of the disc, and an anamorphically enhanced 1.85:1 widescreen image (that preserves the original aspect ratio) on the other.  I viewed the movie in widescreen, but the image for the formatted version seems identical.

This was a good-looking movie.  There was a lot of detail, and the colors were appropriate.  There were a lot of nice scenes that were accurately reproduced, such as the light from the setting sun reflecting off ocean waves.  The transfer was very nice, with no noticeable digital defects and not print damage.

The Extras:

This DVD includes 5 featurettes and a commentary by Director Ron Howard.  The featurettes are all contemporary bits that feel like they were originally part of one longer show.  Each program is a few minutes long and focuses on the actors, Ron Howard, the underwater shots, etc.  All together they run about 20 minutes.  A little light on information, but enjoyable none the less.

Ron Howard's commentary is interesting for the most part.  While the comments are on the sparse side with long breaks in between, when he is talking Howard's narration is very informative.  He talks about the actors, points out improved lines, and discusses problems with the shoot in addition to how he came to direct the movie.  Well worth listening to.

There are also three TV spots, a theatrical trail to this moive and its sequel, and a still gallery.

Final Thoughts:

This gentle and quite film is something the whole family will enjoy.  Ron Howard does a great job directing a wonderful cast in this simple film about some old people who happen to stumble onto a fountain of youth.  Recommended.

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