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On a technical level, GREASE ($30) may not be a great film, but it is still an exuberant, raunchy and fun movie that holds up well more than three decades after its release. Back in 1978, GREASE was also a tremendous box office champion that helped cement the superstardom of leading man John Travolta, during the first upswing in his Rollercoaster ride career. GREASE also featured a chart-topping soundtrack, which benefited from the presence of beautiful Aussie singer Olivia Newton-John, who starred opposite Travolta.

Based upon Jim Jacobs' and Warren Casey's stage musical of the same name, GREASE is set in the 1950’s at Rydell High School, a place where all the teenagers look like they are pushing thirty (and beyond). Sandy Olsen (Olivia Newton-John) is Rydell High School’s newest student, who has transferred from Rydell High School and is quickly reacquainted with Danny Zuko (John Travolta), the boy she had a romance with during the previous summer at the beach. Although instantly pleased to see Sandy again, Danny is a greaser and leader of the boys' gang, The T-Birds, with a reputation to maintain at Rydell High, so he downplays his relationship and interest in Sandy. Although there are various sub-plots the primary goal of GREASE is bring true love back together… even if it does require a good girl going bad. GREASE also features a breakout performance from Stockard Channing as Betty Rizzo, the leader of The Pink Ladies. Channing has two numbers in the film, one highlighting her comedic and the other highlighting her dramatic talents. The terrific cast of GREASE also features Jeff Conaway, Barry Pearl, Michael Tucci, Kelly Ward, Didi Conn, Jamie Donnelly, Dinah Manoff, Eve Arden, Frankie Avalon, Joan Blondell, Edd Byrnes, Sid Caesar, Alice Ghostley, Dody Goodman and Fannie Flagg.

Paramount Home Entertainment has made GREASE available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. This is the best I have ever seen GREASE look in the home venue and I am thinking the Blu-ray may even be better than what I saw theatrically in 1978. The 1080p presentation pops nicely and provides a very pleasing visual experience. Image sharpness and detail are generally very good, close-ups can provide excellent levels of fine detail and there are a number of places the picture appears quite dimensional. Still, there are some photographic issues, as well as optical effects issues that introduce a mild softness into the presentation, at various points. Color reproduction is generally excellent, GREASE is far more vibrant here than any memory I have of the film. Many hues are wonderfully saturated and completely stable. The blacks and whites are just fine for a three-decade-old film. Contrast is smooth and shadow detail is all it needs to be. The elements from which GREASE has been mastered appeared to have been given a digital scrubbing to remove almost all signs of age. A relatively fine amount of grain is present in the image.

GREASE is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. Despite the lossless encode, GREASE sounds flat and lacking in dynamics compared to modern soundtracks. The music sound somewhat muffled to my ear and could use an overhaul, which may require a trip to the vaults to unearth the original recordings and remix the music from the ground up and breath some modern life into the songs. Aside from the music, there are some directional effects spread around the soundstage, but nothing too exciting is happening here. Dialogue is cleanly reproduced and is always easy to understand. A French 5.1 Dolby Digital 5.1 channel and Spanish monaural tracks are also present. Subtitles are available in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc’s interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplements. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with director Randal Kleiser and choreographer Patricia Birch. Rydell Sing-Along offers GREASE goes karaoke. The Time, The Place, The Motion: Remembering Grease is a twenty-two minute retrospective program with cast and crew interviews. Other Featurettes and Programs include: Grease On DVD Launch Party (fifteen minutes), Grease Memories From John And Olivia (three minutes), The Moves Behind The Music (eight minutes), Thunder Roadsters (five minutes), John Travolta And Allan Carr "Grease Day" Interview (two minutes) and Olivia Newton-John And Robert Stigwood "Grease Day" Interview. Deleted/Extended/Alternate Scenes, Photo Galleries and a Theatrical Trailer close out the supplements.

Thirty years down the road, GREASE is still the word. The Blu-ray release offers the best-looking presentation that I have ever seen on this title, although the soundtrack shows the movie’s age and is under-whelming.



Grease [Blu-ray] (1978)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2009 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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