Oliver Stone's Wall Street
is a landmark picture for a number of very good reasons. Its subject
matter was ripe for motion picture treatment, and it was released at
just the right time. Wall Street is a capsule of angst
from the 1980s, capturing the morally untenable excess that defined
much of that decade, and the years since. Perhaps that is the
reason the film has held up so well, and why the forthcoming sequel
seems appropriate instead of just opportunistic. Unfortunately,
this new DVD release (the so-called "Insider Trading Edition," continuing
the laughable, regrettable tradition of "named" special editions)
from Fox is just that. Transparently timed to coincide with the
sequel's release, this DVD jettisons the solid bonus content from
the earlier "20th Anniversary Edition" and replaces it
with disposable junk that adds nothing of value to the film itself,
which is presented here in a holdover transfer that doesn't do justice
to the film's slick visuals.
I have the honor of being the fifth
person to review Wall Street for DVD Talk, so I'm going to
keep the plot summary brief and to the point. Idealistic and idiotically
naïve Bud Fox (fresh-faced Chuck Sheen) goes to work for the tiger
of Wall Street, the oily and foul Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas).
Bud gets rich quick, takes up with Daryl Hannah, receives blowjobs,
etc. The point is that he becomes exactly the guy that his mechanic
father (Martin Sheen) tried not to raise; he loses himself and destroys
the company his father works for in the process.
Oliver Stone was the perfect person
to take on the subject of corporate raiders of the 1980s. An era
soaked in booze and dusted with coke, Stone knows excess because he
was one of its practitioners, both in life and behind the camera.
But Wall Street is one of Stone's more controlled films, finding
the co-writer and director behaving with something like journalistic
restraint. The story, as written, is largely observational, and
Stone's direction favors his actors. Sheen is green enough here
to be credible, and of course Douglas owns the picture with his towering
portrayal of Gekko, a cold-hearted cutthroat who we know is destined
for a series of heart-attacks.
The supporting cast is excellent, once
you look past Daryl Hannah's totally groan-inducing part as an interior
decorator. Terence Stamp plays a rival corporate raider who Bud
spies on at Gekko's behest. Hal Holbrook plays honest career
trader Lou Mannheim, the inverse of Gordon Gekko in terms of his influence
on Bud. Perhaps best of all is Stone regular John C. McGinley
at his scenery-chewing apex as Bud's obnoxious coworker.
Equal to its command of the tone and
business environment of the 1980s is the way Wall Street captures
the look and feel of its setting. Robert Richardson's photography
is fluid and economical, and Stephen Hendrickson's production design
has surely influenced every film since that takes places in a similar
environment. The images of Wall Street have stayed in the
collective memory as the defining version of the way corporate America
looks. It's one of the major reasons this thrilling, well-acted
film remains relevant and entertaining.
The transfer is the same lackluster enhanced image that we've
seen in prior releases of Wall Street on DVD (if you're counting,
this is the film's third incarnation on DVD; it's also available
on Blu-ray). The image is hazy and soft; sometimes it looks like
we're seeing things framed in "dream fuzz." Although detail is
decent, Wall Street is in dire need of an upgraded transfer -
especially given the film's landmark look - an opportunity that
is totally missed here.
Again, the surround mix provided here is a holdover. It gets
the job done, but ambience is limited.
In a baffling, thoughtless, crass move, Fox has eliminated virtually
all of the previously available bonus content and replaced it with ludicrous
On Disc One, the only feature is a
holdover commentary track with Oliver Stone. It's an
entertaining track, but, like the transfer, it's being released here
for the third time.
On Disc Two, things start off with
a totally bizarre feature: it's the entire feature film, but with
a burned-in trivia track. The track is of spotty interest,
and ultimately useless. Why this was not included as an option
on Disc One is beyond me.
There's also the disposable Fox
Movie Channel Presents: Fox Legacy
With Tom Rothman (12:10), which gives this fatuous executive an
opportunity to blather about the greatness of his studio through the
lens of Wall Street. His simplistic look at the film is
the opposite of illuminating; it's simplistic and silly.
Finally, there's a new interview/preview
segment for Wall Street's sequel that lasts a whopping 1:47.
Wall Street is a great film,
and everyone should see it. It's over twenty years old, and
holds our attention for its intrinsic qualities as well as its continued
social relevance. This DVD release, however, is a travesty, and
should be avoided. If you'd like to own a copy of Wall Street,
check out the "20th Anniversary Edition," or the Blu-ray.
Casey Burchby lives in Northern California: Twitter, Tumblr.