‘Tropic Thunder’ Blu-ray Review
DreamWorks Pictures presents Ben Stiller’s ‘Tropic Thunder’ which is an action comedy that rolled out in theaters this past summer. This film takes many comparisons to the Vietnam War documentary ‘Hearts of Darkness’ but with a comedic twist. It is not the documentary piece of ‘Hearts’ that I am referring to, but the struggle to make film in the middle of a battlefield. ‘Tropic Thunder’ was successful at the box office with a worldwide gross of $181 million dollars.
‘Tropic Thunder’ opens up with a series of fictional trailers to introduce us to the stars of the war torn film. These trailers are so off the wall; I couldn’t stop laughing and by the time we get to Jeff Portnoy’s trailers, I was rolling. We have the funny Booty Sweat by rapper Alpa Chino (Brandon T. Jackson) trying to promote his product line-up. Tugg Speedman’s (Ben Stiller) trailers for Schorcher series reminds me a lot of the ‘Trancers’ film series. Then we have Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Jr.) as a priest in a trailer that shows his partner tugging at his tassels. Our next trailer dealt with Jeff Portnoy (Jack Black) in a role that is an ode to the Nutty Professor.
The story in ‘Tropic Thunder’ revolves around a group of actors that are filming a movie based off of the Vietnam War. Tugg Speedman, Kirk Lazarus, Alpa Chino, and Jeff Portnoy are on the set filming their new action film along with director Damien Cockburn (Steve Coogan) and screenwriter Four Leaf Tayback (Nick Nolte). Explosives expert Cody (Danny McBride) makes an error setting off all kinds of premature explosions. Speedman gets aggravated and fires the entire film crew and that he will be the new director of the film. Speedman convinces the rest of the actors that he has setup hidden cameras in the jungle that will film them.
As the actors wander into the jungle, they are in for a surprise as they meet a group of Vietnamese drug lords. These drug lords are in for a surprise when they stumble across a few of the pyrotechnic explosions that have been setup for the film. It appears to these bandits as though they are actually being attacked, which prompts them to retaliate.
While the story is rather simple, it’s the ensemble cast here that really works well together making this a rather enjoyable film. Robert Downey Jr. as Kirk Lazarus made me laugh quite a bit, due to his character. He plays an Australian actor that had his skin dyed to look like a black man. His presentation of being another race is rather hilarious. Then add Brandon T. Jackson who is a rapper and of African American decent starts fighting with Lazarus throughout the entire film that it is disrespectful what he has done. It doesn’t end there with Lazarus whom is a 5 time Oscar winner, he also fights with Tugg Speedman about his role as ‘Simple Jack’ which is reminiscent of the book and film, ‘Of Mice and Men’.
The print is presented in 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The film is on a single BD50 with all the special features also included. The film has a rather colorful and vibrant image with solid Black colors. Some of the best scenes were the ones filmed in the jungle. The vegetation looked very colorful and I felt like I was standing right in the jungle with the cast.
Skin tones had excellent color with some impressive details. The DVD version of the film did lose detail as the camera pans away, but that is not the issue here on Blu-ray. There is some subtle hint throughout the print, yet not distracting.
Audio is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix. The audio is rather aggressive throughout the entire film with the special effects as guns are blazing, explosions, and all kinds of mayhem. The soundfield is impressive with the rears getting a good workout with sound effects. Compared to the DVD version of the film, the TrueHD track packs punch. Bass levels are bit higher compared to the DVD version. Dialogue is clean and clear through the center channel. This is a well balanced mix with no issues of having to raise or lower the volume. Overall, the Blu-ray version provides top notch visuals and audio.
There are a plethora of extras for the film which are very well done. I enjoyed the Filmmaker and Cast Commentaries a lot, and really gave an insight in the behind the scenes of the film. Deleted and Extended Scenes along with the Alternate Ending were also good, especially the Alternate ending. Special features are offered in both high and standard definition.
- Dispatches from the Edge of Madness
- Additional Full Mags
- Video Rehersals
- Filmmaker and Cast Commentaries
- Before the Thunder [HD]
- The Hot LZ
- Blowing S#%t Up [HD]
- Designing the Thunder [HD]
- The Cast of Tropic Thunder [HD]
- Rain of Madness [HD]
- Dispatches from the Edge of Madness
- Deleted and Extended Scenes [HD]
- Alternate Ending [HD]
- Full Mags [HD]
- MTV Movie Awards – Tropic Thunder
‘Tropic Thunder’ was a very enjoyable film and the Blu-ray version of the film is a must own. There was a few times where I felt the film dragged out a bit in a few scenes (being too long for its own good). With that small negative bit aside, ‘Tropic Thunder’ will keep you laughing from beginning to end. Robert Downey Jr. is also fun to watch in this film, he seems to have his career in an upswing here in 2008.