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TROPIC THUNDER ($40) is definitely one of the best skewerings of Hollywood types and the movie business that I have seen in quite some time. With itís on the mark lampooning of the film industry, TROPIC THUNDER had me laughing from start to finish. Personally, I really enjoy Ben Stillerís sense of humor, especially on the few films where he has slipped himself into the directorís chair, just like he has with TROPIC THUNDER. Not only the director and star of TROPIC THUNDER, Stiller also serves as one of the filmís producers, as well as a co-writer, along with Justin Theroux and Etan Cohen. Considering the number of hats Ben Stiller is wearing, one would think TROPIC THUNDER a vanity project for a Hollywood star with an ego problem- however, Stiller smartly sees this particular Hollywood type as one of the ideal targets for its brand of lampooning.

In TROPIC THUNDER Stiller portrays Tugg Speedman, an "A" List action movie star whose career is waning. Looking to get his career back on track, Speedman is starring in a Vietnam War movie entitled Tropic Thunder, which is based upon a notable memoir written by war veteran John "Four Leaf" Tayback (Nick Nolte). Also starring in this war opus is five-time Academy Award-winning method actor Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Jr.), low-brow comedy star Jeff Portnoy (Jack Black), rapper Alpa Chino (Brandon T. Jackson) and character actor Kevin Sandusky (Jay Baruchel). However, when the filmís inexperienced director Damien Cockburn (Steve Coogan) allows a costly special effects sequence to go off without the cameras rolling, studio executive Les Grossman (a nearly unrecognizable Tom Cruise) threatens to shut down production. Needing to pull his bacon out of the fire, Cockburn takes some cameras and his prima-donna actors off into the jungle, where he hopes to gather some useable material guerrilla-style. However, almost immediately, things go horribly wrong- with Speedman being captured the heroin-producing Flaming Dragon gang, who try to ransom him off to the studio. When the other actors happen upon Speedmanís plight, they decide to mount a rescue against overwhelming odds.

Not only is the script for TROPIC THUNDER smart and funny, the performances are spot on- especially Robert Downey Jr., who is brilliant as the method actor, who takes the "method" to a ridiculous extreme. Tom Cruise is also truly hilarious and buried under a ton of latex. Look for Matthew McConaughey in a very amusing supporting role as Speedmanís agent Rick Peck, who tries to enforce his clientís contract, even after he is kidnapped.

Dreamworks Home Entertainment has made TROPIC THUNDER available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. The 1080p presentation of TROPIC THUNDER is utterly gorgeous, and surprisingly for a comedy, makes for a demonstration quality disc. Image sharpness, depth and dimensionality are all exceptionally good. Fine details such as individual hairs, stubble and lines on the actorsí faces, as well as the textures of fabrics and on objects are all excellent. Colors are fully saturated, rich and vibrant, plus the flesh tones are rendered in a highly appealing manner. Blacks are pitch perfect and the whites are clean and crisp. Contrast and shadow detail are pretty much first rate. The elements from which TROPIC THUNDER has been mastered are pretty much without flaws. Grain is noticeable, but helps maintain an organic, film-like quality.

TROPIC THUNDER is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. Like the video, the sound quality is no slouch. The sound design features all the best aspects of an action/war movie- highly aggressive mixing that takes full advantage of all the discrete channels for weapons fire, explosions, helicopter flyovers. Even the smaller moments fill the soundstage with activity that brings the track to life. Fidelity is terrific, with the musical component being lively and the sound effects fully convincing. The bass channel is deep, percussive and ground shaking. For the most part, voices are cleanly reproduced and the filmís dialogue is always completely understandable. French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a nice complement of supplements. Two running Audio Commentary tracks are present; the first is with Ben Stiller, executive producer and co-writer Justin Theroux, production designer Jeff Mann, producer Stuart Cornfeld, editor Greg Hayden, and cinematographer John Toll, while the second features Ben Stiller, Jack Black, and Robert Downey Jr.. Rain Of Madness is a hilarious thirty-minute mockumentary ala Hearts Of Darkeness that is almost as much fun as the feature.

Featurettes include The Cast Of Tropic Thunder (twenty-two minutes), Designing The Thunder (eight minutes), Blowing Sh*t Up (six minutes), The Hot LZ (six minutes) and Before The Thunder (five minutes). Also included are a series of Deleted Scenes, Extended Scenes & Alternate Ending with total twelve minutes of material. Full Mags offer twelve minutes of dalies. MTV Movie Awards: Tropic Thunder is four-minute piece that closes out the standard supplements. TROPIC THUNDER is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player).

TROPIC THUNDER is a hilarious lampooning of the movie business that is certain to make one laugh throughout its running time. The Blu-ray Disc release looks and sounds phenomenal. Highly recommended.



Tropic Thunder (Unrated Director's Cut + BD Live) [Blu-ray] (2008)


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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