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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Blow Out
Blow Out
MGM // R // August 28, 2001
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted September 10, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Generally regarded as one of director Brian Depalma's lesser successes at the box office, "Blow Out" still remains one of the director's finest works. The film has apparently gained a cult following in the years since its release and with good reason. John Travolta stars as Jack Terry, who works as a sound recorder for low-budget horror pictures. As a hobby, he goes out and records various sounds for later use. Sitting in the woods one night, he catches a car accident on tape - the car speeds off the bridge and into the water below. He's able to save the woman in the car, but the man in the car has already passed away.

It turns out the man in the car is a presidential candidate and the woman, Sally(Nancy Allen) is a girl he'd picked up. Not wanting any sort of a scandal, the press makes it look as if it was an accident. Jack, on the other hand, believes he has evidence of foul play, as he can hear a gunshot on the tape, as well as the bang of the tire blowing out before the car went over. When a photographer named Manny(Dennis Franz) comes up with photographic evidence soon after, Jack pieces the audio and video together and goes to the police.

Things don't go as he planned, though and thus begins an effective and often riveting conspiracy thriller, with a superb performance from Travolta and a merely okay one from Allen. The real star of the show, though, is often Vilmos Zsigmond("Close Encounters Of The 3rd Kind")'s incredible widescreen photography, with impressive compositions and the occasional fascinating cinematic trick. Depalma has always been known for his visual style, but he's rarely succeeded more in terms of visual than with Zsigmond here. Some of "Blow Out" looks and sounds a little dated at this point, but the film still works well.


The DVD

VIDEO: "Blow Out" is presented by MGM/UA in both 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and pan & scan on a dual-sided DVD. The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation is generally fair to average. While the new edition of director Brian Depalma's "Carrie" looked the worst off and "Dressed To Kill" looked best, "Blow Out" comes somewhere in-between. Sharpness and detail on the presentation generally was okay - the film has that soft look that seems to have been all the rage in the 70's. Although sharpness varied, the presentation never went too far one way or the other - it never seemed completely well-defined, nor did it become blurry or hazy. A few dark sequences appeared rather murky, but didn't cause too much distraction.

Some minor problems popped up at times, but didn't cause enormous concern. I saw one or two very slight instances of edge enhancement as well as a trace or two of pixelation, but neither of these problems caused a great deal of concern. Print flaws were generally minor, as well. A few very light speckles appeared and a minor mark or two were visible.

Colors were generally subdued throughout the picture, still appearing accurate and not faded. This is generally a watchable presentation, but I didn't find anything very remarkable or impressive about it.

SOUND: Both Depalma's "Carrie" and "Dressed To Kill" both have received new 5.1 presentations for their respective new DVD releases, while "Blow Out" still remains a simple Dolby 2.0 presentation. Sound effects, music and dialogue are all generally clear and easily heard, but the sound quality remains rather flat and occasionally thin. Nothing too special - a new 5.1 presentation here would have helped matters.

MENUS:: MGM has at least provided an effective, animated main menu, complete with clips playing in the background.

EXTRAS:: The only extra here is a theatrical trailer. This is especially strange, considering that Depalma's "Carrie" and "Dressed To Kill" both received major special edition releases during the same week as "Blow Out" was released.

Final Thoughts: I will give MGM credit for producing terrific special editions of both "Carrie" and "Dressed To Kill", but I don't see the reason that "Blow Out" didn't get the same treatment. The film's audio/video here are just mediocre and the addition of some supplements beyond the theatrical trailer would have been appreciated. Fans of the film will lkely be pleased to have it on DVD, but dissapointed that there wasn't more effort put into this release.

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