Grease appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though a few problems arose, the vast majority of the transfer looked just amazing.
Sharpness was the only area of any concern. Some shots – usually production numbers like “Greased Lightning” or “Beauty School Dropout” – could be a bit soft at times. These instances were enough of a distraction that they almost forced me to lower my grade to a “B+”. However, since the majority of the flick was crisp and concise, I decided I could forgive the few problems. Jagged edges and moiré effects caused no concerns, and edge enhancement was absent. Print flaws were completely non-existent as well; I noticed no signs of source defects here.
Colors looked excellent. The image showed consistently vivid and vibrant colors that really excelled. Black levels consistently looked deep and rich, and shadow detail also was clear and appropriately rendered. Nighttime shots like those during and after the pep rally appeared quite clean and neat. If only the smattering of slightly blurry scenes could be corrected – and they may stem from problems with the source, not the transfer – this would be a consistently dazzling presentation. As it stood, I thought it was good enough for a “A-”.
As for the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack of Grease, it seemed quite good for its age. Except for the music, the soundfield remained fairly focused on the center channel. Usually the track offered little more than general ambience on the sides, though it also included a little directional dialogue.
The surrounds lacked much information, as they mostly provided vague reinforcement of the forward audio. A few scenes came to life well, such as during the pep rally. The stereo presentation of the songs showed nice separation and delineation and offered the best aspects of the mix. The opening to the “Teen Angel” sequence also added nice use of the rear speakers, and the entire “Hand Jive” segment spread the music vividly to the surrounds. The car race bit at the end even tossed in some split-surround material. However, those examples popped up pretty infrequently.
Audio quality was good. Dialogue was the weakest area. The lines remained intelligible, but they could seem a bit thin and edgy. Many were obviously looped, and they didn’t always integrate terribly well. Nonetheless, speech was perfectly adequate, especially given the film’s age.
Effects came across as fairly accurate and well defined. They could sound a little thin, but they usually displayed good clarity and depth. Music was smooth. The songs offered good clarity and dynamics, though I might’ve liked a little more low-end oomph. At no point did this soundtrack impress as much as the visuals, but it seemed worth a “B+” when I adjusted for its age.
How did the picture and audio of this Blu-ray Disc compare to those of the 2006 DVD? Both versions offered virtually identical audio, but the Blu-ray improved the visuals. The pair seemed to boast the same transfer; I didn’t sense that Paramount remastered the film specifically for Blu-ray. Nonetheless, we got a boost in tightness and clarity from the high-def format. I thought the DVD looked good, but the Blu-ray was more satisfying.
The Blu-ray replicates the extras from the 2006 “Rockin’ Rydell Edition” of Grease. We begin with an audio commentary from director Randal Kleiser and choreographer Patricia Birch. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific track. They chat about cast and performances, sets and locations, music and production numbers, changes between the stage version and the movie, and general trivia.
This proves to be a pretty engaging little discussion. The pair interact well and offer a balanced discussion. I thought Kleiser would dominate, but Birch more than holds her own. They may concentrate too much on differences between the movie and the stage production – Kleiser constantly asks Birch about that – but the piece nonetheless informs and keeps us interested.
We can watch the film with an optional Introduction from Kleiser. In this 23-second clip, he does little more than say hello and welcome us to the flick. It’s pretty much worthless.
For a Karaoke take on the flick, you can watch it with the Rydell Sing-Along activated. This presents on-screen lyrics for most of the songs. (The title tune and some of the tracks at the dance lack words.) These light up to let you follow the lyrics: blue for boys, pink for girls, and amber when both sexes croon. It’s a harmless and potentially fun feature.
A slew of video features follow. The main component comes from a new program called The Time, The Place, The Motion: Remembering Grease. It runs 22 minutes, 25 seconds and features movie clips, archival materials, and interviews. We hear from Kleiser, Birch, producers Allan Carr (in 1998) and Robert Stigwood, costume designer Albert Wolsky, director og photography Bill Butler, and actors John Travolta (1998), Didi Conn, Olivia Newton-John, Jeff Conaway, and Stockard Channing. We get notes on the show’s move to the big screen and adaptation issues, how Kleiser and the cast came onto the project, performances and rehearsals, Carr’s impact on the set and shooting the musical numbers, costumes and various shot specifics, new songs written for the movie, and the flick’s success and legacy.
I’d love to see a comprehensive documentary about the creation of Grease, but “Motion” isn’t that program. It acts as a decent overview of various elements but it doesn’t sum up the production in a terrific manner. The show touches on enough useful pieces to maintain our interest; it just doesn’t go beyond that, unfortunately.
11 Deleted/Extended/Alternate Scenes fill a total of 10 minutes and 16 seconds. All of them are black and white; no color shots appear. Since they’re all pretty short, they don’t give us much new footage. Most prolong existing scenes via the inclusion of minor tidbits. An extended montage that covers the principal’s first day of school announcements is probably the longest addition, but it doesn’t bring out anything interesting. Though I’m glad these scenes show up here for curiosity’s sake, I don’t think any of them are more than mildly compelling.
During the 15-minute and 13-second Grease On DVD” Launch Party, we get a look at the 2002 event that commemorated the first DVD release of the flick. We find some remarks from Travolta, Conaway, Kleiser, Conn, Newton-John, and singer Frankie Avalon. They just offer the usual “it’s great to be here and the movie’s wonderful” notes typical of this sort of affair.
On a more interesting note, Olivia does a live version of “Hopelessly Devoted to You”, and she duets with Travolta on “You’re the One That I Want”. We also find a big group performance for “Summer Nights” that features all sorts of cast and crewmembers, though Newton-John and Travolta take their leads. Happily, we get full renditions of all these and not just snippets. Those pieces are the real gold here, as it’s hard not to smile as we see John and Olivia romp through “Want”. I admit I didn’t expect much from this feature, but the tunes make it a lot of fun.
Three minutes and 24 seconds of Grease Memories from John and Olivia come next. They throw out some comments from the 2002 event as they enter. Their statements stay in the generic mode; they tell us how they’re happy to be at the reunion and how much they still love the movie. It’s a snoozer of a featurette.
For a look at choreography, we get the eight-minute and 13-second The Moves Behind the Music. It includes Birch, Kleiser, Butler, Conaway, Newton-John, Wolsky and Conn. We get notes about adapting the musical numbers for the big screen and elements of various production pieces as well as info about the movie’s dance troupe. A few good factoids appear here, but “Moves” is too short and too general to be terribly effective.
Thunder Roadsters lasts five minutes, 22 seconds and presents notes from “King of the Kustomizers” George Barris, car builder/customizer Michael Astamendi, and customizers Bob Money, Mark Gerson, Tom McCourry, and Ray Petri. We learn a little about the creation of the fantasy Greased Lightnin’, but mostly we just hear about how much guys love to customize their cars. This never becomes very interesting.
Two sets of Grease Day Interviews appear next. We get one clip with John Travolta and Allan Carr (1:48) and another with Olivia Newton-John and Robert Stigwood (2:07). These segments date from movie’s 1978 premiere. Travolta talks about how he got into acting and his history with Grease, while Newton-John talks about the show, her character, her musical influences, working with Travolta, and seeing herself on the big screen. Both are nice to have as archival pieces, but they don’t tell us much.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we find a collection of Photo Galleries. These break into four areas: “Rydell High Year Book” (36 stills), “Production” (12), “Premiere” (18), and “Grease Day” (6). These mix a smattering of fun shots – especially from the premiere – with some bland images. Don’t expect a lot of great stuff.
More than 30 years after the movie first dazzled me, Grease doesn’t rock my world anymore, but it remains a fairly entertaining little piece of work. Parts of it fall flat, but enough of it seems satisfying to make it a fun program. The Blu-ray provides very good picture, positive sound with a moderately engaging roster of extras.
If you don’t own a prior version of Grease, the Blu-ray is the way to go. It looks great and presents the film really well. However, if you already have the “Rockin’ Rydell” DVD and feel content with it, I’d question the need for an upgrade. The Blu-ray offers strong visuals, but the DVD remains very competent in that regard.
To rate this film visit the original review of GREASE