Thelma & Louise appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a consistently positive presentation.
Sharpness remained solid throughout the film, as the movie maintained nicely delineated and accurate imagery. Nary a sliver of softness materialized here, as we got a tight presentation.
No issues with jaggies or moiré effects appeared, and I noticed no edge haloes. Grain seemed light but natural, and I detected no print flaws.
The film opted for a palette that leaned toward amber and teal, choices that I suspect don’t reflect the 1991 theatrical release. However, alterations stemmed from the director’s choices.
At least the disc replicated the colors well. The hues looked full and rich within stylistic choices.
Black levels came across as deep and rich, while shadow detail appeared accurately thick, so low-light shots demonstrated nice clarity. This wound up as a terrific image.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Thelma & Louise appeared fine when I took into account the movie’s era. The soundfield maintained an emphasis on the forward channels most of the time.
Within that spectrum, elements seemed fairly well placed, and surround usage was pretty good. Usually the mix went with environmental material, but it boasted more active moments, most of which involved the movie’s action scenes. The nightclub sequence was also vivid, and the track offered a positive sense of place.
Audio quality seemed fine. Speech was reasonably natural and concise, and music showed fair reproduction.
At times the score and tunes could be a little dense, but they usually demonstrated pretty nice vivacity. Effects also acted their age on occasion, but I thought those elements were good most of the time, and some moderately powerful bass emerged. Nothing here dazzled, but it ended up as an above-average track for its era.
How did the 2023 Criterion Blu-ray compare to the 2011 Blu-ray? Audio seemed similar, if not identical.
On the other hand, visuals showed notable improvements, as the Criterion release looked cleaner and tighter than its predecessor. This turned into an appealing upgrade.
This two-disc Criterion set mixes old and new materials, and it includes two audio commentaries. We start with one from director Ridley Scott.
Recorded in 1996, Scott provides a running, screen-specific track that usually seems quite interesting. He starts the piece with a quick run-through of his career prior to Thelma and he gets into a number of other issues not related to this film.
After that, Scott tends to focus more strongly on Thelma, and he discusses many notes related to its production. These include working with the actors, cinematographic decisions, scoring concerns, and a mix of other subjects.
As usual with Scott, he goes through the areas concisely and makes them interesting. This track suffers from one moderate concern, however, as it offers a few fairly substantial silent spots.
Without those Scott’s commentary would provide a terrific effort. As it stands, it remains intriguing and informative despite the gaps.
For the second commentary, we hear from actors Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon plus writer Callie Khouri in a program made for the movie’s 10th anniversary. For the most part, this piece presents a running, screen-specific track, and the three women sit together.
However, occasionally we get remarks that clearly emanate from separately recorded interviews. Kudos to the disc’s producers for including those extra bits, for otherwise the commentary really would have lagged.
As it is, the track includes more than a few examples of dead space, so the additional interviews really help make the piece more involving. In any case, this one provides a generally lively and informative program.
Davis dominates the combined portion to a moderate degree, especially since it seems to take a little while for Khouri and Sarandon to warm up to the format. Davis comes out of the box swinging, and the three interact well.
We learn a lot of fun tidbits about their experiences on the set as well as their route to the project. Khouri appears mostly during the separate interviews, and she gives us useful notes about how she came to write the script, various plot considerations, and even cool details like how she chose to set it initially in Arkansas. All in all, this commentary seems entertaining and illuminating.
New to the Criterion release, Ridley Scott: Beginnings starts with a circa 2022 interview. Film critic Scott Foundas sat with Scott for this 22-minute, 23-second piece.
The filmmaker discusses aspects of his early life and career as well as some elements of Louise. We find an engaging conversation here.
Also under “Beginnings”, we find 1965’s Boy and Bicycle (27:50), an early short film made by Scott. It shows a teen (Tony Scott) who skips school and rides his bike around town while he fantasizes.
Like most early projects of this sort, Boy suffers from pretensions and doesn’t really seem especially interesting on its own. Nonetheless, I like the ability to get a look at what the then-18-year-old Ridley could do as a filmmaker.
“Beginnings” concludes with “Ploughman” (0:33), a 1977 TV commercial Scott shot for Guinness. It offers a nice taste of Scott’s skills as an advertiser for hire.
Next comes a 2023 Interview with Screenwriter Callie Khouri. It spans 20 minutes, two seconds.
Khouri covers the origins and development of her screenplay along with influences, script specifics and related elements. Khouri expands on her notes from the commentary in this informative reel.
With that we head to Disc Two and open with a 2001 documentary called Thelma & Louise: The Last Journey. It splits into three different areas: “Conception & Casting”, “Production & Performance”, and “Reaction & Resonance”.
Taken as a whole, these last a total of 59 minutes, 37 seconds. We hear from Scott, Khouri, Davis, Sarandon, producer Mimi Polk Gitlin, composer Hans Zimmer, and actors Christopher McDonald, Michael Madsen, Stephen Tobolowsky, Jason Beghe and Brad Pitt.
Though a little dry at times, “Journey” covers a lot of territory, and it usually does so well. Inevitably, the program repeats a moderate amount of material heard in the commentaries, but since it includes so many additional participants, we get a good spread of alternate viewpoints.
I feel particularly pleased to see Pitt, though given his long-term support of this kind of feature, I shouldn’t have been surprised. The piece follows the film in logical order from the writing of the script through reactions to the finished movie, and it gives us a clear and concise depiction of the production.
Less useful is the original theatrical featurette. This five-minute, 23-second clip features film snippets, images from the shoot, and interviews with Scott, Sarandon and Davis.
Though some of the production shots seem interesting, this piece otherwise comes across as nothing more than the usual puffy palaver.
Within the Deleted Scenes area we get 10 clips that occupy a total of 14 minutes, two seconds.. Though I don’t know if any of this belonged in the movie, we see a lot of good stuff here. Overall, these clips offer a lot of intriguing material.
We also find seven Extended Scenes that take up a total of 29 minutes, 33 seconds. Most of these offer a bit more exposition and prove engaging, if not crucial.
Of particular interest, these include an “Extended Ending”, one that really does simply show a longer version of the existing conclusion. It makes the finale more definite, and the movie’s actual finish works better.
You can watch the ending with or without commentary from Ridley Scott, who lets us know why they went with the theatrical conclusion. His remarks add value.
After this we get a section with Storyboards for “The Final Chase”. “Ridley Scott: Storyboarding the Ending” (5:50) offers the director’s circa 2022 notes on these processes, and he delivers more useful notes.
We also see the “Final Chase” storyboards on their own in a running presentation that spans four minutes, 37 seconds. It becomes a good presentation of the material.
A few minor extras finish off Disc Two. We get a dull music video for the dull song “Part of You, Part of Me” from Glenn Frey’s dull solo career. The video offers nothing more than the standard montage of movie clips and lip-synch footage, and it seems… well, dull.
We also discover the movie’s theatrical trailer as well as two TV spots and a TV promo spot that came out after the 1992 Oscars.
The package also includes a booklet that presents art, credits and essays from critics Jessica Kiang and Rachel Syme as well as journalist Rebecca Traister. It offers a good complement to the set.
More than three decades down the road, Thelma & Louise lacks some of the spark caused by then-current controversies, but it still offers an interesting and well executed outlaw flick. The gender of its protagonists continues to give it a nice twist, and the movie seems solid across the board. The Blu-ray provides very good picture, pretty solid audio and an informative collection of supplements. Thelma & Louise occasionally seems a little dated, but it generally continues to work well.
To rate this film please visit the Special Edition review of THELMA & LOUISE