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Oliver Stone
Michael Douglas, Charlie Sheen, Daryl Hannah, Martin Sheen, Hal Holbrook, Terrence Stamp
Writing Credits:
Oliver Stone, Stanley Weiser

Every dream has a price.

In this riveting behind-the-scenes look at big business in the 1980's, an ambitious young stockbroker (Charlie Sheen) is lured into the illegal, lucrative world of corporate espionage when he is seduced by the power, status and financial wizardry of Wall Street legend Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas in his Oscar winning performance). But he soon discovers that the pursuit of overnight riches comes at a price that's too high to pay. Daryl Hannah and Martin Sheen co-star in Oliver Stone's gripping morality tale about the American dream gone wrong.

Box Office:
$15 million.
Opening Weekend
$4.104 million on 730 screens.
Domestic Gross
$26.643 million.

Rated R

Widescreen 1.85:1/16X9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby Surround 2.0
French Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 126 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 11/7/2000

• Audio Commentary with Director Oliver Stone
• “Money Never Sleeps – The Making of Wall Street” Documentary
• Trailers


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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Wall Street (1987)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 6, 2007)

After his Oscar-winning success with 1986’s Platoon, director Oliver Stone wasted no time addressing a different form of warfare: the corporate battles that occur in the stock market. Barely a half a year after he took home Hollywood’s biggest prize, Wall Street, his view of the affairs of the Eighties’ go-go financial marketplace hit screens. The movie didn’t cause as much of a fuss as did Platoon, but in many ways, it’s a superior effort; both films have their flaws but I found Street to be a generally more entertaining and satisfying effort.

Actually, in many ways Street directly echoes the themes of Platoon. The latter was largely about the fight over the soul of a young soldier played by Charlie Sheen; two sergeants - one good, one nasty - tried to pull him to their side. The same theme plays out during Street. Young go-getter Bud Fox (Sheen again) has to decide if it’s better to follow greedy financial bigwig Gordon Gecko (Michael Douglas) or to be true to his blue collar roots along with dear old dad (played by Charlie’s real-life dear old dad Martin Sheen).

Yes, it’s basically a morality play as Bud has to choose between selfish excess or doing the right thing, and the movie often seems pretty predictable in that manner. There aren’t a whole lot of surprises to be found in Street. It depicts the denizens of Wall Street as self-obsessed, callous and money-oriented blowhards, for the most part, and it follows a typical progression as we see Bud enticed by the big money that Gecko can help him obtain. He gets the nice apartment, the sexy girlfriend (Daryl Hannah) and all of the other accoutrements of wealth so he gets a taste of the high life he never experienced during his middle class upbringing.

Will Bud continue to embrace Gecko’s “greed is good” philosophy or will he go for his dad’s support of friends and family? I won’t detail the ending, but if you’re unsure how this one’s gonna go, you don’t get out much. It’s not exactly a surprise to learn that wealth-obsessed Wall Street types are jerks, so the movie occasionally feels pointless; don’t watch this film if you expect any revelations or depth.

Although Street lacks many surprises, it presents a nicely executed and entertaining piece at least. The story moves forward at a good clip, and most of the actors perform their roles well. Douglas won an Oscar for his portrayal of Gecko. I’m not sure that prize was warranted, especially since he never gives the part much depth or breadth, but he does neatly encapsulate a fairly cartoonish look at a stereotypical corporate bandit.

Ultimately Wall Street stands as one of Oliver Stone’s better films, mainly because it’s one of the least flawed. I don’t think Stone has ever made a movie that didn’t have problems, but at least Street stayed away from the stylistic excesses of later works and it maintained a generally compelling tone. I don’t think Wall Street is a classic, but it offers a generally interesting look at the period.

Continuity footnote: what period Street covers is up for debate. At the movie’s start, we’re told it takes place in 1985. I’d bet that this was added at the last minute to separate the film’s events from the fall 1987 stock market crash. Evidence to support this concept: one character refers to the Challenger disaster, something that didn’t occur until 1986.

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

Wall Street appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. At no time did this threaten to become an impressive transfer.

Sharpness appeared iffy at best. While some parts of the movie showed decent clarity and delineation, much of the flick seemed a little soft and ill-defined. These issues weren’t extreme, but they gave the movie a dull look. I noticed no jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement seemed to be absent. Source flaws were also negligible. A few specks cropped up but not with any regularity.

Hues seemed a little muddy and bland during most of the movie, as Street often presented a rather brownish look. On some occasions, I thought colors appeared acceptably bright and accurate, but these were rare; mainly the hues came across as flat and without much life. Some of that related to production design and film stock, but I still felt the flick could have been more dynamic. Black levels were inky, and shadows tended to be rather heavy. Low-light shots usually seemed awfully opaque. Though the movie looked decent enough for a “C-“, it almost entered “D” territory.

I can’t offer much more praise for the movie’s Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. This mix remained very heavily oriented toward the front spectrum. The forward channels displayed acceptably spread from music and some effects and the audio blended together fairly well. However, it wasn’t an active environment and it presented a pretty restricted image through most of the film.

Surround usage seemed very minimal, with only mild music coming from the back during most of the movie. On some occasions, reinforcement of effects appeared from the rears, and during Gecko’s speech to some shareholders, I found that the audio offered a nicely appropriate echo. However, throughout the majority of the movie, the rear speakers seemed uninvolved.

Audio quality was decent but fairly bland. Dialogue sounded mildly thin and reedy. However, the speech usually came across as distinct and easily intelligible with no signs of edginess. Effects were clean and decently realistic but they lacked much clarity or force. Music was similarly smooth but without great dynamics; the soundtrack offered modest low end but did not stand out in any way. As a whole, the mix was roughly average; it offered a listenable but uninvolving experience.

Wall Street includes a few different extras. First up is a running audio commentary from director Stone. Although the track featured more gaps than I’d like, as a whole Stone offered a nice commentary. I can’t call it genuinely “screen specific”; while Stone sometimes referred to the action currently shown in the movie, that didn’t happen frequently.

Instead, Stone provided many compelling remarks about the production and his life and career in general. He discussed his relationship with his father and how it shows up on screen, casting and working with the actors, story points, and a mix of other topics. Stone seemed very forthright and honest and he never appeared to shy away from blunt details, which means that we learn some strong information. It’s a good track.

Next is Money Never Sleeps, a fine 47-minute and 35-second documentary by Charles Kiselyak. This program mainly features contemporary interviews with Stone and a variety of cast members (both Charlie and Martin Sheen and Douglas) plus a smattering of movie clips and a few shots from the set. It’s an honest and compelling look at the creation of Wall Street and it provided a very entertaining experience. All of the participants offer their frank thoughts about the shoot and I thought it was a fun piece, especially when Martin Sheen discusses his attempts to deviate from Stone’s script. One thing’s for sure: you’ll never again be able to maintain a straight face when you hear the name “Bud Fox”.

In addition to these extras, we find a few more commonplace pieces. We get two theatrical trailers for the film. Note that although the DVD’s case states that the disc includes TV spots, it doesn’t; I looked all over it and could find no evidence of these advertisements.

Wall Street finds Oliver Stone repeating himself to a degree as he created a companion piece to Platoon. However, while WS lacks much originality, it presents a generally interesting and entertaining view of the self-centered world of Eighties high finance. The DVD offers flawed picture, mediocre sound and a few strong supplements. Wall Street is a decent movie, but this is a sub-standard DVD.

To rate this film visit the 20th Anniversary Edition review of WALL STREET

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