Rain Man appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Movies from 1988 usually look a bit drab, but this one seemed reasonably attractive.
Sharpness seemed largely good. Sporadic examples of softness cropped up, but these stayed pretty modest, so most of the flick came across as pretty detailed and tight.
No issues with jaggies or shimmering occurred, and edge haloes were absent. Grain seemed light and probably showed a little “management” but still seemed reasonably natural, and I saw no print flaws.
Colors appeared surprisingly vibrant. The palette stayed in a natural vein, and the disc displayed these hues well.
Despite the occasional instance of muddy 80s colors, the tones usually came across as generally lively and full. Some skin tones could seem a bit ruddy, though.
Black levels seemed good, with consistently rich and deep tones, and shadow detail was positive. The film offered many low-light situations, and these came through well. Overall,, the movie looked positive.
To my surprise, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack also fared well. The track betrayed a few problems, but it usually seemed clear and concise.
The soundfield stuck mainly to the front, where music spread nicely to the sides, with a modicum of ambient sound blending on the left and right as well. The surrounds supported the score nicely - it's easily the best part of the mix - and they also added some mild reinforcement for effects. It's not a dazzling track, but it worked well.
Quality seemed inconsistent but generally positive. Dialogue was the weakest aspect, as although lines sounded distinct and intelligible, they could also appear dull or flat, and they also displayed some slight edginess on occasion.
Effects also suffered from some muddiness, but they usually seemed clear and realistic, and they betrayed some solid low end at times. Best of all was the music, which sounded bright and bold, with fine dynamic range.
Indeed, the bass rocked much better than I'd expect from a 1988 film. It didn't make me like the movie, but the soundtrack nonetheless added to the experience.
How did the remastered 2023 Blu-ray compare to the original 2011 BD? Both showed audio that seemed very similar – and probably identical.
As for visuals, the 2023 release showed moderate improvements, mainly because it lacked the edge haloes and heavier noise reduction of the earlier release. While not revelatory, the 2023 Blu-ray improved upon its predecessor.
The 2023 Blu-ray repeats the extras from the 2011 disc, and we find no fewer than three separate audio commentaries. The first comes from director Barry Levinson, who offers a running, screen-specific piece. When he speaks, Levinson gives us some great information, as he goes into many aspects of the production.
Levinson discusses shooting in sequence and its effect on the production, reshoots, casting some actors, decisions related to the rhythmic score, cinematographic choices, editing, improvs, and many other elements.
The key here becomes “when he speaks”. Unfortunately, Levinson fades into the background too much of the time.
Many empty spaces appear in this track and the director can disappear for fairly long stretches. The quality of the information seems strong enough for me to recommend this commentary, but the many gaps create many frustrations.
Next we find a chat from writer Barry Morrow, who also offers his own running, screen-specific piece. I admit I didn’t expect much from this conversation, but Morrow provides a consistently informative and engaging commentary. He starts with the roots of Rain Man and how his own interactions with the mentally disabled led him to write it.
Morrow gives us many stories of his experiences with real-life “rain men” and tosses out many great stories about the production. We learn of casting and crew possibilities, the script’s path to the screen, and what’s happened to him since the movie’s release, especially in regard to the reactions the flick engendered.
Heck, he even addresses those of us who dislike the film! Morrow remains very likable and interesting in this terrific track.
Finally, we get a piece with writer Ronald Bass, who offers his own running, screen-specific discussion. Bass starts strong as he goes over his involvement in the flick, the development he did with Steven Spielberg and mentions of other directorial possibilities, research and character development, and variations in different versions of the scripts.
Unfortunately, Bass peters out before too long. After a while, his comments become appear less frequently, and he mostly just narrates the film and tells us what we see on the screen.
Some good moments still pop up at times, such as when Bass tells a funny Oscar anecdote. Nonetheless, the last half of the track makes for slow going. Most of the good material shows up early in this inconsistent piece.
A few featurettes ensue. The Journey of Rain Man goes for 22 minutes, nine seconds and provides notes from Levinson, Morrow, Bass, producer Mark Johnson, co-producer Gerald R. Molen, UCLA Department of Psychology clinical social worker Diane Bass, associate producer Gail Mutrux, composer Hans Zimmer, and actor Valeria Golina.
“Journey” looks at how various participants came onto the project and its development, script, characters and story, research and realism, cast and performances, music, the movie’s release and reception.
“Journey” delivers a fairly general “making of “ piece, and it’s fine in that regard. You’ll find some redundant material after all those commentaries, but it ties things up in a neat manner.
Lifting the Fog: A Look at the Mysteries of Autism runs 20 minutes, 15 seconds and includes comments from Morrow, Autism Research Institute director Dr. Bernard Rimland, Autism Service Center’s Dr. Ruth Sullivan, psychiatrists Dr. Darold Treffert and Dr. Arnold Rosen, autistic men Joseph Sullivan, Mark Rimland and Peter Guthrie, and Guthrie’s brother Kevin.
The program looks at aspects of autism and shows us the influences for Dustin Hoffman’s performance. This is a basic show but it offers some interesting notes.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we get one deleted scene that goes for two minutes, 13 seconds and shows Raymond as he navigates a convenience store by himself. It’s an interesting snippet, but it doesn’t tell us anything new about the characters.
I dislike a fair number of Oscar Best Picture winners, but I reserve a special level of distaste for Rain Man. Honestly, it can be an entertaining film but it feels so phony and artificially sentimental that it nauseates me. The Blu-ray provides pretty good picture and sound as well as positive roster of extras. I feel pleased with the Blu-ray but still can’t stand the movie itself.
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