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Robert Zemeckis
Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, Danny DeVito, Zack Norman, Alfonso Arau, Manuel Ojeda, Holland Taylor, Mary Ellen Trainor, Eve Smith, Joe Nesnow, José Chávez
Writing Credits:
Diane Thomas

She's a girl from the big city. He's a reckless soldier of fortune. For a fabulous treasure, they share an adventure no one could imagine ... or survive.

Though she can spin wild tales of passionate romance, novelist Joan Wilder (Kathleen Turner) has no life of her own. Then one day adventure comes her way in the form of a mysterious package. It turns out that the parcel is the ransom she'll need to free her abducted sister, so Joan flies to South America to hand it over. But she gets on the wrong bus and winds up hopelessly stranded in the jungle - until she encounters Jack Colton (Michael Douglas), a man who could have stepped straight out of one of her novels.

Though his good looks and intrepid moves dazzle her, Joan quickly sees Jack for the cheap opportunist that he is. But he's all she's got, so together they journey out of the jungle, battling mudslides, druglords, crazed treasure-hunters - and each other. Along the way, Joan discovers she's tougher than she ever thought, tough enough to rescue her sister, and tough enough to fall in love with the troublesome Jack.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$5.105 million on 823 screens.
Domestic Gross
$74.900 million.

Rated PG

Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
English Dolby 2.0
Spanish Monaural
French Dolby 2.0

Runtime: 106 min.
Price: $19.98
Release Date: 8/29/2006

• Deleted Scenes
• “Rekindling the Romance: A Look Back” Featurette
• “Hidden Treasure: The Screenwriter” Featurette
• “Douglas, Turner and DeVito: Favorite Scenes” Featurette
• “Michael Douglas Remembers” Featurette
• Preview


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Romancing The Stone: Special Edition (1984)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 21, 2006)

Back when Romancing the Stone reached screens in 1984, it looked like little more than an obvious attempt to capitalize on the success of 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark. 22 years later, that’s still how I feel about it; I don’t think the movie would have existed without Raiders to pave the way. However, Stone does enough differently to warrant examination on its own merits.

Stone introduces us to Joan Wilder (Kathleen Turner), a successful writer of romance novels. Her real-life is much less exotic, though, as she lives alone and spends most of her time with her cat Romeo. She fantasizes about Jessie, the rugged protagonist of her stories.

Joan’s life starts to become more complicated, though. Her sister Elaine’s (Mary Ellen Trainor) husband is kidnapped and apparently killed in Colombia and Elaine herself soon gets abducted. Ralph (Danny DeVito) and Ira (Zack Norman) orchestrate this as part of a plot to find some unnamed archaeological treasure. More nefarious parties become involved as well; a mystery man named Zolo (Manuel Ojeda) kills Joan’s superintendent and ransacks her apartment.

It turns out that Elaine’s husband Eduardo mailed her an alleged treasure map. Elaine tells her to bring it to Colombia to help save her life. This sets Joan on an adventure as she heads to Colombia. When she gets stranded in the mountains, Zolo corners her and demands her purse. Jack Colton (Michael Douglas) rescues her and becomes her guide for the carefully negotiated price of $375. The movie follows their relationship and attempts to stay alive along with other complications related to the treasure map.

When I semi-slammed Stone as a Raiders wannabe, that may leave the impression it more obviously rips off the Spielberg classic. In reality, Stone riffs off the concept of Raiders and its tone more than anything else. Stone is set in modern times and it presents fairly different protagonists.

Jack more closely resembles Indy than Joan compares to Marion. Jack is more of an opportunist than the studious Indy, but there’s still a common thread between them. On the other hand, there’s little to attack neurotic, dreamy Joan to rugged, tough Marion. Sure, Joan gets more independent and stronger as the film progresses, but she’s a very different character than Marion.

The two films connect mainly in their aspirations to present old-fashioned adventures. Even there they depart somewhat. Raiders favors action where Stone goes more for comedy and romance. It still includes plenty of action, but it doesn’t give us the unrelenting thrills of Raiders.

This leaves Stone as more of a hybrid flick. It melds comedy, romance and action to create… well, I’m not sure what. I think it’s telling that although I was almost 17 when Stone debuted and thus part of its target audience, I barely remember it. I feel like I should have really liked it, but the fact that it maintains so little connection to my memory indicates that I must not have been too impressed.

As I watch it again 22 years later, I can see why. Stone is perfectly watchable and has some fun moments, but I don’t think it ever coalesces into anything more. The flick’s lack of thematic focus creates some of these concerns. Director Robert Zemeckis did a much better job of melding comedy and action a year later with Back to the Future. In Stone, the combination of elements works less well. It suffers from “jack of all trades” syndrome, as it doesn’t do any of its sides terribly well.

I can’t say I have major complaints about any of those elements; they just fail to move me. My main criticism of Stone relates to Alan Silvestri’s terrible jazz-pop-synthesizer score. His music dates the flick badly and makes it seem cheesy much of the time.

Despite that, I can find parts of Romancing the Stone to enjoy. Something about the complete package leaves me moderately cold, though. I think the film offers decent entertainment but it fails to go beyond that.

The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus C

Romancing the Stone appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Overall, I felt the transfer seemed very good, as it aged well over the last 22 years.

Sharpness appeared positive. The picture came across as crisp and detailed throughout the film. I noticed no significant indications of softness or fuzziness during this distinct presentation. Jagged edges weren’t an issue, but some light moiré effects appeared at times, and I also noticed some minor edge enhancement. As for print flaws, this was a surprisingly clean transfer. A few speckles popped up but nothing more significant than that occurred.

Stone provided a naturalistic palette, and the DVD replicated the hues accurately. With its jungle setting, greens dominated. The tones looked nicely clear and realistic, and they showed no distinct signs of noise or bleeding. Blacks appeared reasonably deep and rich, while shadows were clean and concise. This was almost an “A”-level transfer, as it consistently looked very good.

The Dolby Surround 2.0 soundtrack of Romancing the Stone was fine but unexceptional. Given the age of the film, I didn’t expect a very active soundfield, and what I heard seemed good considering those restrictions. The mix favored the forward channels and created a reasonably engaging sense of atmosphere. Music showed fairly positive stereo delineation in the front, and effects popped up in logical locations. They blended together in a decent manner. The surrounds usually just reinforced the music and sense of environment, but they did provide some occasional unique elements, such as when a plane flew from front to back.

Audio quality appeared acceptable across the board. Speech seemed reasonably clear and distinct, and intelligibility never turned into a problem. Effects presented fairly clean and accurate material. Some distortion occurred – usually attached to gunshots and crashes – but those concerns weren’t significant. Music was rich and warm, with pretty solid low-end response. This track failed to stand out as memorable, but it worked pretty well considering the age of the film.

When we head to the DVD’s extras, we start with eight Deleted Scenes. These fill a total of 18 minutes and 48 seconds. We find “’Jack. T. Colton’” (2:12), “By the River” (4:21), “Keep Quiet” (1:46), “Treasure Map” (1:39), “Campfire on a Cargo Plane” (3:11), “’Romancing the Stone’” (1:02), “Alligator” (0:27) and “The Book Signing” (4:07). If fans hope to find gold in these clips, they’ll emerge disappointed. The scenes range from mediocre and tedious to simply useless. “Colton” goes a long way to throw out a minor character point, and the others add nothing particularly useful to the table. Many simply offer slight extensions on existing pieces, and none of them bring out anything positive.

“Stone” and “Signing” are most interesting as they feature a male published instead of the character played by Holland Taylor. I’m not sure why “Signing” comes last, as it would have appeared early in the film. The absence of any commentary for the clips is a problem, since we don’t learn why this male actor got the boot. Perhaps that subject will come up in the subsequent programs, but it’d be best to learn it here. In any case, the “Deleted Scenes” don’t go much of anywhere.

A few featurettes follow. Rekindling the Romance: A Look Back goes for 19 minutes, 45 seconds as it mixes movie clips, archival materials, and interviews. We hear from actor/producer Michael Douglas, Jewel of the Nile co-screenwriter Mark Rosenthal, and actors Kathleen Turner and Danny De Vito. We get information about the project’s origins and development, how Robert Zemeckis became director and his work on the set, casting, characters and performances, locations and related challenges, the particulars of some specific scenes, and reactions to the final product.

I like that “Rekindling” includes all three of the main actors, and it does give us a decent overview of the production. I couldn’t call it a particularly rich documentary, though. The absence of Zemeckis from the proceedings comes as a disappointment and means we lack the filmmaker’s perspective. This is an enjoyable and moderately informative show but not a special one.

Next we head to Hidden Treasure: The Screenwriter. This three-minute and 15-second piece presents notes from Douglas, De Vito, and Rosenthal. They tell us a little about the late Diane Thomas. (She died in a 1985 car crash.) Don’t expect substance here. The show just tells us how she reinvented the genre and acts as an appreciation for her. No real information appears; it’s a tribute and not anything more.

We get more from the main actors with the three-minute and 54-second Douglas, Turner and DeVito: Favorite Scenes. The three actors discuss various parts of the flick. We get some praise from Jewel of the Nile director Lewis Teague and Rosenthal as well. Douglas, Turner and DeVito tell us which scenes they like and we watch them. A few decent stories come along the way, but not enough to make this an interesting show.

Finally, Michael Douglas Remembers goes for two minutes and 20 seconds. He talks about his career as an actor and a producer as well as how he got involved with Stone. We also get some archival praise from Turner. Too brief and superficial, we learn very little here.

A nice little Booklet accompanies the package. This eight-page piece gives us basic production notes and reflections on the film’s success. Frankly, it’s the most informative element in this package, as it summarizes the flick better than all those mediocre featurettes.

An ad for The Sentinel opens the DVD. No trailer for Stone shows up here.

Romancing the Stone was forgettable in 1984 and it remains forgettable in 2006. The movie boasts potential but spreads itself too thin as it tries to make all audiences happy. The DVD offers very good picture and solid audio along with a disappointing and bland set of extras. Fans will be happy enough with the strong visuals and sound to buy this disc, but I can’t recommend it to others.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.2 Stars Number of Votes: 15
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