Pretty Woman Blu-ray Review
Director Garry Marshall apparently struck gold with “Pretty Woman,” which opened during the summer of 1990 but, thanks to positive word-of-mouth, was able to reach upwards of $175-million in theaters alone. The question of why it worked so well lies directly with the film’s two charismatic stars, Richard Gere and Julia Roberts, since the story itself is none too original or even believable.
Edward Lewis (Richard Gere) is a suave, extremely wealthy business mogul who, at the start of the picture, breaks up with his girlfriend over the phone after a nasty argument, and abruptly takes his friend’s car and gets lost on Hollywood Boulevard while trying to find his hotel. Stopping the car along the street, he asks a woman, obviously a prostitute, for directions. Agreeing to get in his car and show him for ten bucks, Edward ultimately accepts, they strike up a conversation, and before long she has been asked up to his penthouse room on the top floor. This meeting does not lead to sex, however, as Edward confides that he’d rather just have someone to talk to, and offers her $300 to spend the night. Just as well, since the hooker, named Vivian (Julia Roberts), is a beautiful, generally upbeat young woman who is the type of person that can lend an understanding ear. The meeting between these two completely opposite people does not end the next morning as planned, when Edward finally offers to pay Vivian three-thousand dollars if she will stay with him for six days and nights while he is in the area, keeping him company and acting as his companion to business dinners and get-togethers.
Allegedly planned as a grim, downbeat drama until Garry Marshall came on board as director, “Pretty Woman” has been transformed in all senses of the word into a classic fairy tale, a la “Cinderella.” The premise is hardly believable and its portrait of prostitutes hanging out on the streets of Hollywood Boulevard is just about the most idealized portrayal that there could have possibly been.
Additionally, the film belongs, and its success can be attributed, to two people and two people only, and they are Richard Gere and Julia Roberts. Playing sex symbols throughout the ’80s with such pictures as “American Gigolo” and “An Officer and a Gentleman,” Gere branches out here to play a more quiet, almost shy, but still alluring, character that believably could sweep Julia Roberts off her feet, and vice versa. Julia Roberts, in her breakthrough role after 1988’s well-received “Mistic Pizza” and 1989’s “Steel Magnolia,” for which she was nominated for an Academy Award, is radiant and funny as the wordly Vivian.
Movie Content: 4/5
The print is presented in 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Colors are not strong, but are sufficient for a film that is 19 years old. This is a brighter looking color palette, this helps in balancing out the lack of pop. Flesh tones are natural and accurate. Black levels are strong. There is film grain throughout the print which never becomes a hindrance to the image. This print is an upgrade over the previous DVD release which will make fans of the film happy.
Print Quality: 4/5
The audio is presented in English 5.1 Uncompressed PCM. I was quite impressed with the depth of the dialogue coming through the center channel. Dialogue was clean and clear with no apparent issues. This is more of a front heavy experience with minimal usage of the rears until a few sound effects come pouring through. They are very minimal at best. The soundtrack actually is much more front heavy than I expected. The soundtrack would have been the one element which should have been in play in the soundfield.
Audio Quality: 4/5
- “Blooper Reel” – a short blooper reel on the mistakes made during the film.
- “Live From The Wrap Party” – musical party.
- “LA: The Pretty Woman Tour” – covering the films locations in a documentary style piece.
- “1990 Production Featurette” – interview with Director Gary Marshall.
- “Wild Women Do’ Music Video Performed by Natalie Cole” – music video with Natalie Cole.
- “Feature Audio Commentary”
- “Theatrical Trailer”
All features are ported over from the previous 15th Anniversary DVD. All the extras are presented in standard definition.
Special Features: 3.5/5
The Final Word
‘Pretty Woman’ is probably one of the most influential romantic comedies of our times. With an ever so simple story, Richard Gere and Julia Roberts bring magic to the screen. I don’t think this film would have worked with any other actors. On Blu-ray this film is a moderate upgrade over the previous 15th Anniversary DVD, porting over all the special features. I highly recommend this film to view the great performances by Gere and Roberts.
Overall Rating: 4/5