Pretty Woman appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie showed its age but looked fine overall.
Many of those came from the era in which the film was made, though some of them didn’t connect to period issues. For the most part, sharpness seemed reasonably tight and well-defined. A little softness crept into some wide and/or low-light shots, but the movie usually presented nice definition. I noticed no problems with jagged edges or shimmering, though some mild edge enhancement was visible through the flick. Gain seemed fairly natural, and the image lacked print flaws.
Though many movies from this one’s era suffer from flat colors, that wasn’t much of a problem here. Low-light situations were the biggest concern in general. They could be a little murky and opaque, and they were the only instances in which the hues looked a bit drab. Otherwise, the tones were moderately vibrant and lively, and black levels seemed decent. This was a bland image due to the style of its era, but it seemed more than acceptable.
The Uncompressed 5.1 mix of Pretty Woman seemed less satisfying, though. The forward soundstage appeared only mildly broad and spatially-defined, as it stuck fairly closely to the center. We got music that spread across the front, but effects were more restricted and didn’t add much to the proceedings. The rears basically just reinforced the music, though they occasionally tossed in some gentle effects as well.
A few problems stemmed from the quality of the audio. Dialogue seemed adequate; the lines weren’t terribly natural, but they showed decent clarity and intelligibility. Effects were decent, as they didn’t feature prominently enough in the movie to make a difference either way. Bass became too loud, though, as the tack went subwoofer crazy with elements like the rumble of a sports car.
The film's music was a weak link, largely due to that inappropriate low-end. Highs were flat, and some echo effect became distracting. Some of this resulted from the music production trends of the era, but that didn’t explain everything, as even the title track – recorded in the Sixties – suffered from the same concerns; I like an active subwoofer but not as boomy as I heard here. The track was listenable, but it never became better than that, and that overwhelming bass was a problem.
How did this Blu-ray compare with the 15th Anniversary DVD? Visuals showed improvements, as they looked cleaner and tighter; the movie will always betray its 1990 roots, but it was more appealing to view than ever. Audio was more of a wash, though; l thought speech was more natural, but the bass was more of a problem here.
Note that all three prior DVDs only offered the film’s 125-minute Director’s Cut, while we get the original 1990 version here. I believe the Blu-ray marks the first release of the 1990 cut since laserdisc days. That makes me happy; the Director’s Cut is interesting as an alternate, but I prefer the original.
The 15th Anniversary disc’s extras repeat here. First up is an audio commentary from director Garry Marshall. He presents a running, screen-specific track in which we learn about the project’s original title and script, the cast and their work, locations and production design, improvisation, and nuances of the shoot.
Marshall originally recorded a commentary for the 1997 laserdisc release of the film; that same track appeared on the 1998 DVD and the 2000 10th Anniversary DVD. This isn’t that discussion; it was created explicitly for the 2005 15th Anniversary version.
To prepare for this disc, I re-listened to the old commentary. It’s a very strong track that I think still stands as one of the best I’ve ever heard. This made it difficult for me to judge the 15th Anniversary commentary on its own merits.
Objectively, the 2005 track is pretty good, as Marshall covers the film in a genial and humorous manner. He manages to make our time with him enjoyable.
However, the new commentary pales in comparison with the old one. Perhaps because he was eight years older, or perhaps because he already talked about the movie back then, Marshall lacks the same high level of energy he exhibited the first time. He perks up as the movie progresses – or maybe I just got used to the more low-key tone – but he never gets into the film in the lively manner exhibited in 1997.
Marshall also tells us little that’s not already in the original track. He sprinkles in references to Proust and Chekhov, he updates us on matters that have transpired since 1997, and he offers minor tidbits like his nickname for Julia Roberts. Otherwise, you find most of the same information and even many of the same jokes.
Again, when listened to independently, this new commentary works just fine. It simply lacks a reason to exist, as the original chat was so good. Perhaps the suits who produced the 15th Anniversary felt an old track would make it look stale, but I strongly prefer the original commentary. It was much more detailed and informative, so fans should continue to seek it out if they want to learn as much as possible. Screen it and you won’t have much use for this new piece.
Next up is a three-minute and 46-second 1990 production featurette created back in 1990. This pretty much defines the concept of "glorified trailer". We see some very brief interview snippets with Marshall, Richard Gere, and Julia Roberts. However, during the majority of the piece we just watch clips from the movie and hear narration about the story. Skip this waste of time.
Two newer featurettes follow. Live from the Wrap Party goes for four minutes and five seconds. This offers a train wreck rendition of “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” with Gere on piano, Marshall on drums, and Roberts on some vocals. It’s bizarre, which makes it perversely entertaining to see.
After a 39-second introduction from Marshall, LA: The Pretty Woman Tour runs eight minutes, 52 seconds. This shows a few locations used in the film: Hollywood Boulevard, Rodeo Drive, the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, the W Hotel, the LA Museum of Natural History, Cicada Restaurant, the LA Equestrian Center, and the Las Palmas Hotel. As we see these, we hear narration from Marshall as he tells us about the locations and shooting at them. He remains delightful to hear, and he helps make this a fun program.
We also get a two-minute and 36-second Blooper Reel. Expect the usual assortment of gags and silliness, though a couple moderately interesting bits appear. It’s a little above average for this sort of piece.
Finally, we get the film’s theatrical trailer and a music video for Natalie Cole's "Wild Women Do". That clip offers the typical video for a tune from a film. It shows shots of Cole lip-synching the song which are intercut with scenes from the movie. It's a dated and silly piece, but it's fun to see in a "Weren't the early Nineties dopey?" way.
The disc opens with ads for DisneyNature: Earth, Blindness and Miracle at St. Anna. Sneak Peeks adds promos for Lost and Miramax Films as well.
Still charming after all these years, Pretty Woman established Julia Roberts as a star and revived the career of Richard Gere. It shows its age on occasion, but it still manages to evoke a nice tone and a few laughs. The Blu-ray presents fairly good picture and bonus materials but the audio seems erratic, mainly due to some boomy bass. Despite the soundtrack issues, this became the best version of the movie on home video.
To rate this film, visit the DVD review of PRETTY WOMAN