The Outsiders appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. This became a satisfying presentation.
Sharpness worked nicely. Any softness remained minor, so the vast majority of the film appeared well-defined and concise.
No jagged edges or shimmering appeared, and edge haloes remained absent. With plenty of grain, noise reduction didn’t interfere, and I saw no print flaws..
Despite the dust bowl setting, Outsiders went for a fairly natural palette. The colors didn’t appear inappropriately bright, though, as they seemed consistently lively and full. The tones were nicely rendered and provided good definition, with added oomph from the 4K’s HDR.
Blacks also looked tight and rich, while low-light shots demonstrated solid delineation. HDR added breadth and depth to whites and contrast. This became a solid image.
In a superficial manner, the DTS-HD MA 5.0 soundtrack of The Outsiders impressed. However, this proved to become a mix that felt more like “forced dazzle” than a natural, immersive experience.
This meant side/surround usage that felt too robust, as the various elements popped up in a manner that seemed artificial. The components didn’t blend together in a way that felt appropriate for a movie from 1983, as the period recordings contrasted with newly-created stems.
Really, the mix just tended to feel like someone wanted to show off the capabilities of multichannel audio that were less common in 1983. The soundfield dominated too much and created a distraction.
At least audio usually seemed good – at least for the older elements. Speech felt natural and concise, without edginess or other concerns.
Music appeared rich and full, while effects came across as accurate and lively - too lively in terms of how newer elements blended with older ones, but the disc replicated the recordings accurately. Fans of active soundscapes will like this mix more than I did, as I found it to overwhelm the story.
We find a bunch of extras in this package, including two versions of the film. In addition to the movie’s theatrical version (1:31:40), we find The Complete Novel (1:54:54).
With 23 minutes of added footage at its disposal, “Complete Novel’ obviously allows for a richer telling of the story. I may not like the end result, but at least the “Complete Novel” offers the better-developed iteration of the story.
On the “Complete Novel” disc, we get two separate audio commentaries, each of which comes with its own introduction.
First we hear from director Francis Ford Coppola. In his two-minute, 19-second intro, Coppola talks about why he took on the project as well as his decision to update the movie as this extended edition.
From there we go into Coppola’s running, screen-specific track. He tells us a lot about the changes between the 1983 and 2005 cuts of the film, and he also gets into the movie’s music, aspect ratio, the actors and their work, shooting in Oklahoma, and various production notes/trivia bits.
As I mentioned in the body of my review, Coppola occasionally touches on the homosexual overtones. At first he essentially denies the presence of that element, but as the movie progresses, he indicates he suspects some of that might be there.
I would have liked more information about themes and whatnot, but as it stands, Coppola offers a reasonably informative track. He gets into various issues with decent depth and gives us a good feel for the various elements.
I like the elements that chat about studio pressures to focus on the Dallas character. Coppola also gets into his career in the 1980s and what he wanted to do in that era. He peters out at times and never elevates this into something special, but he musters a generally positive discussion of the flick.
As for the second introduction, we see actors C. Thomas Howell, Diane Lane, Patrick Swayze and Ralph Macchio together in this four-minute, 40-second discussion of their roles and the flick. Rob Lowe and Matt Dillon chime in as well during their individual sessions shot at a later time.
Again, after the introduction, we launch into the commentary. Everyone offers running, screen-specific thoughts, though the use of three separate recordings necessitates editing, obviously. And we get some deft editing, as the various sessions flow together surprisingly smoothly; at times it really appears that Lowe and Dillon were in the same room as the others.
The commentary goes over the expected subjects. We hear about working with Coppola, the restored scenes, relationships on the set, facets of the performances, and various trivia bits and production notes.
At best, the track includes some nice insights, and Lowe offers many of them. He’s the most active and interesting speaker as he tosses out good bits; he even lets us know what author SE Hinton told him Sodapop’s fate would be.
Unfortunately, the commentary suffers from an awful lot of gaps. These annoy in any commentary, but they become particularly problematic in a piece with so many participants.
The main group of four actors also spends too much time playing around and joking; they provide relatively little information about the movie, especially compared with the more efficient Lowe. There’s a decent collection of anecdotes here, but the commentary becomes too frustrating and tedious at times to be a good one.
On the Theatrical disc, Staying Gold: A Look Back at The Insiders runs 26 minutes, 27 seconds. It features notes from Coppola, Howell, Dillon, Lowe, Lane, Swayze, Macchio, author SE Hinton, cinematographer Steve Burum, actor Leif Garrett, and research librarian Anahid Nazarian.
The program goes over the roots of the project, shooting in Tulsa and Coppola’s unusual methods, rehearsals and the atmosphere on the set, the film’s photographic style, the creation of this longer cut of the film and the reunion of the participants.
When “Gold” concentrates on the making of the film, it’s pretty terrific. We see plenty of great video footage from the set and get a nice feel for the flick’s creation.
The reunion aspects are less interesting, though. Yeah, it’s fun to see all those folks at Coppola’s property, but I don’t think we learn as much as I’d like. Nonetheless, “Gold” ends up as a good show despite some slow spots.
The material in SE Hinton on Location In Tulsa should be self-explanatory. The seven-minute, 34-second segment takes the author on a tour of Tulsa circa 2003 or so.
She comments on the places used in the flick and also gives us some memories of her experiences during the film’s shoot. This becomes a pretty tight and informative piece.
For the 13-minute, 58-second The Casting of The Outsiders, we hear from Macchio, Coppola, Lowe, Dillon, Howell, and casting director Fred Roos. We get many good details about the casting process, but the real gold comes from all the video footage of those sessions.
We see a lot of notables who didn’t make it into the movie. That roster includes folks like Helen Slater, Adam Baldwin, Kate Capshaw, and Anthony Michael Hall. I like this featurette a lot and think it’s one of the set’s better elements.
New to this 2021 release, Outsider Looking In spans seven minutes, 51 seconds. Here Coppola discusses “key scenes” in the film. He offers a few worthwhile observations.
Another 2021 extra, Old House New Home goes for 11 minutes, four seconds and features Hinton, Outsiders House Museum owner Danny Boy O’Connor and various Outsiders fans.
We get a glance of movie locations now as well as what O’Connor did with the house set. This becomes a decent view of the subject matter, even if it feels like an ad for the museum at times.
Cast Readings fills seven minutes, 23 seconds. We watch Lowe, Swayze, Dillon, Macchio, Garrett, Howell and Lane as they narrate parts of the novel.
Each one reads sections related to their own parts, which makes this feature fun. I especially like how Lowe smirks at the camera when he gets to the part about how handsome Sodapop is supposed to be. I didn’t expect much from this section, but it’s quite entertaining.
In addition to two trailers, we find eight Additional Scenes. These fill a total of 14 minutes, 44 seconds.
Not much of interest appears here. Some of the clips feature small extensions of existing scenes, and the others are generally dull. The alternate opening is worth a look, though.
On the “Complete Novel” disc, we find a circa 2021 Introduction to The Outsiders from Coppola. During the 11-minute, 48-second reel, Coppola discusses what brought him to adapt the novel as well as casting, aspects of the production, and the creation of the “Complete Novel” cut. Much of this appears elsewhere, so don’t expect many new insights.
Restoring The Outsiders spans 19 minutes and offers notes from film archivist/restoration supervisor James Mockoski, cinematographer Stephen H. Burum and colorist Gregg Garvin.
“Restoring” examines aspects of the “Complete Novel” version’s creation as well as the 2021 4K transfer. This gives us decent notes about the work involved, even if it seems more than a little dry.
Next comes Stephen H. Burum on The Outsiders, a 12-minute, 31-second piece in which we hear from cinematographer Burum. He discusses what brought him to Outsiders as well as his work on the film and general experiences. Though not a scintillating chat, Burum adds some useful details.
Note that the 4K loses a short 1983 clip from the Today Show found on prior releases. Also note that although I discussed “Staying Gold”, “Outsider Looking In”, “Old House New Home”, “On Location”, “Casting”, “Cast Readings”, the deleted scenes and trailers in the context of the theatrical disc, all of these appear on the “Complete Novel” platter as well.
Back in 1983, The Outsiders failed to find an audience, and I can’t claim folks back then made a mistake. Overwrought and melodramatic, the movie plays as self-parody too much of the time and becomes an unintentionally goofy experience. The 4K UHD offers very good picture and a nice set of bonus features, but the 5.1 mix comes across as forced and overbearing. Outsiders turns into a campy dud.