The Jewel of the Nile appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. After the solid transfer that came with Stone, the lackluster visuals of Nile were a disappointment.
Sharpness varied. While some shots presented very good definition, more than a few others suffered from lackluster delineation. The movie usually showed pretty good clarity, but it often looked vaguely soft.
No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I saw mild edge enhancement. As for print flaws, I noticed a few examples of specks and marks. Though these never seemed dominant, they created occasional distractions.
Colors were another lackluster element. Despite all the movie’s exotic and potentially vibrant settings, the tones tended to appear somewhat flat. They could come across as reasonably vivid at times but too often they were a little on the drab side.
Blacks were similarly decent but unexceptional, and shadows tended to come across as moderately thick. Although I never found this to be a bad transfer, it showed too many concerns to rate higher than a “C+”. It simply looked a bit too murky to satisfy.
On the other hand, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of The Jewel of the Nile worked pretty well. The soundfield seemed oriented toward the forward channels, where they showed very good stereo imaging for music and effects.
Elements meshed together well and moved smoothly. Localization was also very good. The surrounds were somewhat limited but they added more than acceptable reinforcement to the image.
Audio quality was positive. Dialogue seemed slightly weak at times, as I occasionally heard some mild edginess, but it generally appeared warm and natural. Effects were consistently crisp and clear, with no audible distortion, and few times we witnessed some nice bass as well.
Music sounded clean and lively, as the score was reproduced in a satisfying manner. Given the age of the flick, I founded little about which to complain when I listened to the soundtrack.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the DVD from 2006? Though the Blu-ray added a 5.1 lossless track in addition to the original lossy 4.0, auditory differences seemed limited due to the age of the material. The scope and quality of the audio seemed fairly similar, so the Blu-ray offered a bit more oomph but not a lot.
The source material also affected the visuals. I’m guessing the Blu-ray came from the same transfer used for the DVD, which meant improvements stemmed from the superior capabilities of Blu-ray and not from an upgraded transfer. Still, even with the Blu-ray’s iffy qualities, it still looked better than the DVD.
The Blu-ray duplicates the DVD’s extras, and we begin with an audio commentary from director Lewis Teague. He presents a running, screen-specific chat. Teague talks about what attracted him to the project and how he came onto it.
The director also looks at his career prior to Jewel and his desire to depict “Recognizable Human Behavior”. Additional subjects include locations and shoot specifics, the story’s development and the rushed nature of the production, casting and working with the actors, challenges making a film in Morocco, and visual effects.
At the start of the track, I thought it’d be a great one. Teague begins well, as he comes across as charming, likable, informative and funny.
Unfortunately, the commentary soon starts to sputter as Teague goes silent an awful lot of the time. He still churns out some good info, but the gaps become problematic. I think Teague offers enough useful data to make the track worth a listen, but don’t expect it to be a thorough winner.
Six Deleted Scenes fill a total of five minutes, 44 seconds. These include “A Toast to Joan Wilder” (1:11), “With the People” (1:01), “’Need Water’” (0:41), “’This Ain’t Easy You Know’” (0:59), “’Jack, I Wish We Would Have Gone to Greece’” (0:22) and “The Ceremony” (1:30).
“People” is mildly interesting as it shows Joan an early sign that the citizens don’t like Omar, and a few of the others allow Danny DeVito a little more comedic screentime. None of them come across as memorable, though. They’re not as tedious as the cut scenes that accompanied Stone, but they’re not very entertaining either.
Next comes a featurette called Romancing the Nile: A Winning Sequel. In this 20-minute, 59-second piece, we get movie clips, archival materials, and interviews. We hear from Teague, actor/producer Michael Douglas, co-screenwriter Mark Rosenthal, and actors Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito.
The show looks at why the filmmakers pursued a sequel, its rapid production, and related pressures. We follow the project’s development and then go through screenwriting and story, problems with the script and its refinement, challenges related to the notion of a sequel, casting new actors, locations and related experiences, props and art direction, and general thoughts about the project.
The program acts as a pretty solid examination of the production, especially when tied to Teague’s commentary. The “making of” for Stone was lackluster, but this one proves more informative and provocative. It fails to present great insight, but it touches on the appropriate notes well and gives us a nice look at the flick.
Another featurette entitled Adventures of a Romance Novelist lasts eight minutes, two seconds. It offers notes from Douglas, Rosenthal, Turner, and Teague. “Novelist” looks at the decisions related to the creation of a sequel. Those involved let us know the concerns they dealt with and why they chose to take the story in the direction selected.
Some of this information repeats notes from the prior show, but “Novelist” expands the topics well. It covers the requisite story and character related material in an interesting fashion.
We also get a fun trailer for Nile that features unique footage of De Vito as well as a Preview for Jumpers. Unfortunately, the Billy Ocean video for “When the Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going” doesn’t pop up here. It’s a terrible video, but it’s be fun to see for kitsch value.
After the disappointment of Romancing the Stone, I didn’t expect much from its sequel. Nonetheless, The Jewel of the Nile provides some decent entertainment. At no point does the flick threaten to become memorable, but it keeps us reasonably interested. The Blu-ray provides erratic visuals along with pretty good audio and a few useful supplements. The transfer disappoints but the movie itself seems moderately entertaining.
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