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Weird Science
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.85:1 Widescreen
  • English PCM Stereo
  • English DTS-HD 5.1 Surround
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation of the original Theatrical Version of the film (94 mins), plus seamlessly-branched exclusive Extended Version (97 mins), featuring two additional scenes newly remastered in high-definition
  • Edited-for-TV version of the film (SD only, 95 mins), plus comparison featurette highlighting the alternate dubs and takes
  • Option to watch additional scenes from the Extended Version separately
  • Newly-filmed interview with special makeup creator Craig Reardon
  • Newly-filmed interview with composer Ira Newborn
  • Newly-filmed interview with supporting actor John Kapelos
  • All-new interview with casting director Jackie Burch
  • It's Alive: Resurrecting Weird Science, an archive documentary featuring interviews with cast, crew and admirers, including star Anthony Michael Hall
  • Theatrical trailers and TV spots
  • Image gallery
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tracie Ching
  • FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collectors' booklet featuring new writing on the film by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas and Amanda Reyes

Weird Science

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: John Hughes
1985 | 94 Minutes

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: Arrow Video
MVD Visual

Release Date: July 23, 2019
Review Date: July 25, 2019

Purchase From:
amazon.com  amazon.ca

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SYNOPSIS

THEY WENT FROM ZEROES TO HEROES IN ONE FANTASTIC WEEKEND. If you can't get a date... make one! After proving himself the king of heartfelt teen flicks with Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club, writer-director John Hughes infused the genre with a hefty dose of wacked-out sci-fi comedy in Weird Science, a film where every teenage boy's wildest fantasies come to life. Perenially picked-on high school nerds Gary (Anthony Michael Hall, Sixteen Candles) and Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) are sick of their status at the bottom of the social food chain. Using Wyatt's computer, the two hatch a plan to create their dream woman - and following a massive power surge, that woman unexpectedly appears in the form of Lisa (Kelly LeBrock). Gorgeous, intelligent, and blessed with limitless magic powers, Lisa makes the boys' dreams come true... but what about Wyatt's gun-toting psycho older brother Chet (Bill Paxton), and the two bullies (Robert Downey Jr and Vamp's Robert Rusler) determined to put them back in their place? Inspired by EC Comics and boosted by a killer soundtrack (including the classic title theme by Oingo Boingo), Weird Science has never looked better than in this new special edition, including an exclusive extended version of the film featuring deleted scenes never released on home video before.


PICTURE

John Hughes’ cult teen comedy Weird Science receives an all-new Blu-ray edition from Arrow Video, who present the film in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on a dual-layer disc. Arrow has performed a 4K restoration of the film, sourced from the 35mm original camera negative. It has been encoded at 1080p/24hz. The disc presents both the theatrical and extended versions.

It really should come as no surprise considering Arrow’s track record as late but this is such a striking presentation, just an all-out wonderful surprise. I’ll confess I’ve never actually seen the film all the way through prior to this. One of my more ridiculous childhood memories comes from being over at a friend’s house (probably around 1987 or so) and I believe we had rented the movie and popped it on. It was the opening sequence where the two protagonists are designing their simulated woman when my friend’s mother walked in. She caught the moment where they’re altering breast size and *BOOM* the tape was shut off. I laugh at this now, but oddly I never had much of an urge to watch the film after that, catching pieces of it on television through the years, so my experience with the film is strictly through fragments from television airings, and nothing really stood out visually for me about it.

Arrow’s presentation changes that quite a bit. Where I recall the film being a bit drab it’s significantly brighter and far livelier, colours looking bold and stunning. When Lisa first appears there’s a bright neon purple/pink in the background that doesn’t wipe out other areas of the image and doesn’t bleed out. Reds and oranges pop up, coming off rich and bold, and a there are a couple of shots from a kitchen that has turned entirely blue that delivers said blues cleanly. Blacks are also strong but I found shadow detail could get eaten up in darker shots.

The print is in absolutely stunning condition and outside of some optical effect shots the picture is very clean. What was most surprising, though, was how well rendered the grain is. The film is very grainy, but thanks to an incredible encode it looks clean and natural, keeping it film-like, much more so than the 4K restoration Criterion used for Hughes’ The Breakfast Club, which had some obvious noise reduction applied (if only Arrow could have worked on the restoration for that film!)

Thanks to seamless branching Arrow also presents the extended version, which runs a little over 2-minutes longer, adding two sequences (that aren’t all that significant). These portions also look good, though don’t look as sharp as the main portion (and its indicated they come from a high-def master, not the same 4K restoration). The scenes don’t stick out all that much, though.

I shouldn’t be surprised by how well this has turned out considering Arrow’s track record, but I am. This looks fantastic.

9/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

Arrow includes two audio tracks for the theatrical version of the film: the original 2.0 PCM stereo surround track and the remastered 5.1 track, presented in DTS-HD MA. The extended version only includes the 2.0 track.

Both are fine though not all that special. Dialogue sounds excellent, easy to hear in both tracks, with decent fidelity. Music and sound effects are mixed nicely, showing off impressive range (the title Oingo Boingo track, “Weird Science,” sounds great). Surrounds are used effectively and there is some noticeable direction in the 5.1 presentation during some of the more active scenes, but it never gets out of a certain comfort zone. It’s mixed loudly, range is great, and nothing gets drowned out, but it’s just a decent, unspectacular soundtrack.

8/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Much to my surprise this film has never received a definitive special edition, with other Hughes films receiving more love. Arrow really goes all out with this. As mentioned before Arrow does offer two versions of the film: the theatrical and extended versions. The extended version doesn’t offer anything I would call “significant,” just a little more with our two “heroes” talking about the idea of creating a girl (while nuking a huge stack of frozen pizzas in their wrappings) and an extended bit where more kids show up at the house party. Arrow is nice enough to also include these two sequences separately so you don’t have to go through the whole film to find them.

Another fun addition is the entire 94-minute television version of the film, presented in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio and sourced from very good video materials (it doesn’t look all that bad). I sampled this to get a feel and almost immediately you could see and hear some changes. But for those that want all of the differences clearly pointed out to you Arrow has created an 18-minute split-screen-comparison, that compares scenes from the theatrical version with moments from the television version. In most cases one version is played and then the other is played after, showcasing some minor edits and dubs over curse words (some of which are funny). But some scenes have been entirely re-edited, including one where shots have been rearranged simply to avoid having footage of a toilet flush, and then others were redone to cut out nudity. It’s pretty bizarre at times what needed to be changed. Music in the theatrical version during the mall scene (a cover of “Pretty Woman”) and at the end (the “Rocky Theme”) was also replaced with the “Weird Science” song (my understanding is that some previous home video versions did this as well, and I assume it was a rights issue in both cases). It’s a fun study and I’m surprised at some of the material is considered offensive.

Arrow then includes a bunch of new interviews recorded exclusively for this edition. Casting director Jackie Burch talks about her work with Hughes and the interesting decisions that went into casting (I was also surprised to learn that both Robin Wright and Sharon Stone were up for playing Lisa), and this is followed by a new interview with actor John Kapelos. Kapelos reflects on his first Greek character (which horrified his mother) and talks about working with Hughes over a few films and his regrets that Hughes just left Hollywood. The interviews run 6-minutes and 7-minutes respectively.

They’re good interviews, as is a 14-minute one by composer Ira Newborn (sounding a bit hoarse), where he talks about the synth sound and portions of the score. But I was more fascinated by two more technical ones: a 20-minute interview with make-up effects artist Craig Reardon and an 11-minute one with editor Chris Lebenzon. Lebenzon’s is fun as he talks about he just fell into editing (apparently practicing on a machine used by Thelma Schoonmaker) and how getting pulled into Weird Science last minute really helped his career. Reardon’s is probably my favourite, though, as he talks in detail about creating the Chet monster that appears in the film. It was a rough process creating this creature, and he explains the many ways they worked around some issues. I was also fascinated by his reaction to the film: he admits the script sounded out there and had trouble picturing it, but he realized when you get the right people and right actors for a film that can elevate any sort of material. Reardon’s interview is probably the best thing on here.

I’m guessing the 17-minute It’s Alive! Resurrecting “Weird Science” comes from a previous Universal release. It’s a decent retrospective on the making of the film, featuring interviews with Anthony Michael Hall, John Kapelos, Ally Sheedy, costume designer Marilyn Vance, writer Diablo Cody, director Amy Heckerling, critic Owen Gleiberman, and others. It’s pretty standard DVD “making-of” features, and rushes through some of the material (like casting and the music in the film). Again, nothing special, but it’s fine.

Arrow then includes some of the usual features: a teaser trailer (basically the “creation” sequence cut down to trailer length) and a theatrical trailer, 2 TV spots and 9 radio spots. We then get three galleries: the complete shooting script, a large selection of production photos, and then samples of posters and home video art from around the world (including the awful retro Blu-ray cover in North America).

Arrow’s first printing also features a slip cover presenting their cover art, and then they include one of their exceptional booklets that, as usual, go above and beyond what you would ever expect, especially for what is considered by even his more ardent fans, a lower-tier Hughes film. There’s a great essay about how the film has aged, written by Alexandra Heller-Nichols, who is still fond of the film (even if it’s just nostalgia) but notes how in the age of Incels it can be a bit troublesome (though the lesson is, of course, these boys need to build their confidence and are not entitled to a relationship). There’s also another great essay by Amanda Reyes about the influence of E.C. Comics and the series “Weird Science” that more than likely influenced the film. I was really surprised by this portion as Reyes offers a rather thorough history of the infamous comic label. Not something I was expecting and it’s a wonderful piece.

In all, it might be lower-tier Hughes, but Arrow really went out of their way here, and fans of the film are in for a treat with this edition.

8/10

CLOSING

A really great release for the film. The supplements go well and beyond what is expected and the presentation is exceptional. Fans should be giddy over this release.




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Purchase From:
amazon.com  amazon.ca