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(20th Anniversary Edition)

For my money, you can never have too much Tim Burton in high definition and I am glad to see more and more of his films coming to Blu-ray. Following on the heels of PEE WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE, supernatural comedy BEETLEJUICE ($35) was replete with the director’s oddball sensibilities, yet proved to be both a financial and critical success, which would allow him to move on to bigger (and sometimes even more oddball) projects. For my money, BEETLEJUICE is a ghoulish good time that pokes fun at death and the afterlife, as would a number of Burton’s later films.

The premise of BEETLEJUICE follows the misadventures of a young couple named Barbara (Geena Davis) and Adam Maitland (Alec Baldwin), who meet a rather unexpected end, then find themselves destined to haunt the Connecticut home they loved so much in life. Unfortunately for our ghostly couple, their peaceful afterlife is wrecked by the arrival of The Deetzes, who have purchased their quiet country home. Charles Deetze (Jeffrey Jones) has moved his family to Connecticut for some peace and quiet, much to the horror of his aspiring artist second wife Delia (Catherine O'Hara) and his Goth daughter Lydia (Winona Ryder).

Miserable at the thought of sharing their home The Deetzes, Barbara and Adam seek guidance of their afterlife case worker, Juno (Sylvia Sidney), who pretty much leaves them fending for themselves after telling them they will have to scare off The Deetzes, if they want them out of the house. Of course, The Maitland’s haunting techniques prove ineffectual; so against the advice of Juno, Barbara and Adam employ the services of a freelance "bio-exorcist" named Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton), to rid their home of The Deetzes. Unfortunately for all concerned, Beetlejuice has all the personality of a grotesque and perverted dead used car salesman, and proves unstable and uncontrollable when set loose on the living. The cast of BEETLEJUICE also features Glenn Shadix, Robert Goulet, Dick Cavett and Susan Kellermann.

Warner Home Video has made BEETLEJUICE available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. The 1080p presentation is very pleasing, making this modestly budgeted comedy look better at home than at any other time in the last two decades. Everything appears sharper, more dimensional and better defined, thanks to the film being offered in high definition. The late 1980’s film stocks yield all the fine detail they can, but they remain the limiting factor. Colors can be quite vivid, and sometimes, a bit cartoony, but the hues are rendered with excellent stability and better range that they do in standard def. The blacks and whites are just fine, as is the contrast. Shadow detail is sometimes a bit limited by original production factors, but holds its own. Some mild blemishes appear here and there throughout the film’s running time, but they are never excessive. Mild grain is usually present, but it helps maintain the film-like quality of the presentation.

BEETLEJUICE is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. Considering the film’s age and the fact that much of BEETLEJUICE plays like a talky comedy, this isn’t the most aggressively mixed track in the history of the cinema. However, there are a number of cartoony moments that lend themselves well to directional effects. The majority of activity is located in the forward soundstage, but the rears do chime in when required. Fidelity is very strong, with Danny Elfman’s wonderfully vibrant and amusing score receiving the greatest benefit of the lossless encoding. Although dated in quality, Harry Belafonte’s songs seem to have a bit more presence in TrueHD than they have demonstrated in the past. Voices are cleanly reproduced and the dialogue maintains complete intelligibility. An English Dolby Digital 5.1 channel, plus French, Spanish, Castellan, German, Italian and Japanese language tracks are also encoded onto the disc. Subtitles are available in English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese and Swedish.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few extras. An isolated Music Only track in 5.1 has been provided to allow one to enjoy Danny Elfman’s score. Three Episodes from the animated BEETLEJUICE television series are also provided, as is a Theatrical Trailer. The Blu-ray release of BEETLEJUICE also comes with a CD Soundtrack Sampler on a second disc.

BEETLEJUICE is another Tim Burton delight that has found its way to high definition. The Blu-ray presentation is certain to please fans. Recommended.



Beetlejuice (20th Anniversary Edition) [Blu-ray] (1988)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2008 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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