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COCOON

Without too much reality encroaching upon its storybook approach, Ron Howard’s 1985 outing, COCOON ($25), is a movie that is best described as a sci-fi fable. Set in the retirement capital of America, COCOON tells the story of three elderly gentlemen, who accidentally happen upon the fountain of youth in the least likely of places. Sneaking out of their retirement community on a daily basis, Ben (Wilford Brimley), Arthur (Don Ameche) and Joe (Hume Cronyn) slip through the fence to take advantage of the swimming pool on the unoccupied rental property next door. Although said property with swimming pool is eventually rented, our three old scallywags continue their daily ritual… that is, when the renters are not around. However, in addition to being merely wet, the three start feeling years younger and begin cavorting like teenagers.

Eventually, the truth about the pool is revealed… it seems that folks renting the house with the pool aren’t from around here. As Ben, Arthur and Joe discover, Walter (Brian Dennehy), Kitty (Tahnee Welch) and their companions aren’t out-of-towners on a scuba holiday. As it turns out, they are actually aliens from the planet Antarea, who have come to Earth to rescue members of their race that they were forced to leave behind, when their outpost on the island of Atlantis sunk to the bottom of the ocean. Coming to an understanding with their new friends, our rejuvenated gents, along with their ladies (Maureen Stapleton, Gwen Verdon and Jessica Tandy) begin enjoying life with a renewed vigor… that is, until their obviously youthful escapades attracts unwanted attention to the swimming pool. The cast of COCOON also features Jack Gilford, Steve Guttenberg, Herta Ware, Barret Oliver, Linda Harrison, Tyrone Power Jr., Clint Howard and Charles Lampkin.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made COCOON available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. Over the years, COCOON has never struck me as a particularly impressive looking movie; in fact, I have always found it flat out pedestrian. Sitting down to watch COCOON on Blu-ray, I can honestly say I was impressed by the 1080p presentation, because for the first time, this movie actually looked pretty darn good to my eyes. In high definition, the image appears sharper and better defined than I ever though it would look. However, there are still places within the film where COCOON looks slightly diffuse. Colors are rendered with a natural level of saturation, which never appears overly ripe or particularly wanting. Both the blacks and the whites appear accurate. Contrast can be a little flat and under-whelming. Shadow detail is more than adequate, but never distinguishes itself in any particular way. Other than a few minor blemishes, the elements from which COCOON has been transferred appear quite clean. Grain is noticeable, but not beyond what one would normally see on a film of this vintage. Overall, this is a surprisingly good rendering that should please fans.

COCOON is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. COCOON was produced during the Dolby Surround era, so I wasn’t expecting to be overwhelmed by this soundtrack. However, the sonic elements have been nicely reworked for key moments and are directional and rather effective. Additionally, the track offers up the expected amount of ambience and fill. Still, the vast majority of COCOON plays in the talky drama mode, with much of the sound locked front and center. The lossless encode enhances James Horner’s music, allowing it to sound smoother than it has in the past. As for the bass channel, I can’t say it makes too much of an impression. Dialogue is generally clean and clear, but there were a few moments, where the voices seemed a bit recessed into the mix. A French stereo and a Spanish monaural track have also been encoded onto the disc. Subtitles are available in English and Spanish.

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 the extras. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with director Ron Howard. Featurettes and other programs include the following: Behind The Scenes Featurette (seven minutes), Ron Howard Profile (three minutes), Underwater Training (four minutes), Actors (three minutes) and Creating Antareans (four minutes). A Theatrical Teaser, Theatrical Trailer, Three TV Spots and a Theatrical Teaser for the sequel, COCOON: THE RETURN, close out the extras.

COCOON is a charming sci-fi fable that has been given a surprisingly capable presentation on Blu-ray. Recommended.

 

COCOON 


Cocoon [Blu-ray] (1985)

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DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2010 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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