Once upon a time in a castle high on a hill lived an inventor whose greatest creation was named Edward. Although Edward had an irresistible charm, he wasn't quite perfect. The inventor's sudden death left him unfinished, with sharp shears of metal for hands. Edward lived alone in the darkness until one day a kind Avon lady took him home to live with her family. And so began Edward's fantastical adventures in a pastel paradise known as Suburbia.
For more about Edward Scissorhands and the Edward Scissorhands Blu-ray release, see Edward Scissorhands Blu-ray Review published by PeteR on November 19, 2007 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
An elderly woman tucks a young girl into bed for the night. Giving in to the child's request for a story on where snow comes from, the grandmother begins to tell her: "I guess we'll have to start with scissors…"
Avon saleswoman Peg Boggs (Dianne Wiest) is not having any luck selling her wares to the residents in her brightly painted suburban neighborhood. Looking in her car's side door mirror, she sees an old mansion at the top of the mountain on the edge of suburbia. She drives up there, and encounters Edward, a shy young man with large, scissor-like blades for hands. Seeing he has no one to take care of him, Peg insists Edward accompany her home, which rouses suspicion from her neighbors. Peg's husband Bill (Adam Arkin) and her son Kevin (Robert Oliveri) immediately welcome their new houseguest. Less welcoming is her teenage daughter Kim (Winona Ryder), who has the misfortune of encountering Edward in the middle of the night in her bedroom (Peg had Edward sleeping there while her Kim was away).
Edward is a hit, wowing the neighbors with his skills at hedge clipping, pet fur trimming, and hair cutting. One neighbor, Joyce (Kathy Baker), even attempts to seduce Edward. Kim begins to develop feelings for Edward, after witnessing his selfless acts and eagerness to help others. Unfortunately, there are other people jealous and fearful of Edward, and their actions cause this fairy tale to take a dark turn.
The original goth/emo kid.
When I first saw Edward Scissorhands theatrically in late 1990, I was somewhat befuddled by what I had just seen. Even after seeing other Tim Burton films such as Pee Wee's Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, and even Batman, I wasn't quite prepared for this oddball tale. Apparently, neither did the movie going public: the film was only a modest success. But time has been kind to the film, and it has become somewhat of a cult classic. Tim Burton has become a powerful name in filmmaking and of course Johnny Depp is no longer best known for the TV series 21 Jump Street. Revisiting this film on Blu-disc gave me a new appreciation for the story Burton and screenwriter Caroline Thompson were telling. Anyone who has experienced alienation can identify with Edward, indeed Burton (in his commentary) says that this represented his youth in suburbia. He says this film is one of his most personal, and indeed it is one of the most "Tim Burton-ish" films he has ever done. From the bouncy score by Danny Elfman, the look of the neighborhood and mixing technology placing the film anywhere from the 1960's to what was then present day (1990). Of course, casting Johnny Depp and forming a lasting actor/director relationship that continues to this day, the latest being Sweeney Todd. Depp's Edward is a mixture of Frankenstein and Pinocchio: innocent and trusting to a fault, yet dangerous because of his abilities.
The rest of cast give wonderful performances. Dianne Wiest is charming as the sweet and loving Peg, Alan Arkin's Bill leaves you with the impression he isn't quite all there, yet caring. Winona Ryder is sweet as the conflicted Kim. A nearly unrecognizable Kathy Baker sets the mold that Desperate Housewives found success with years later on television. Vincent Price, in one of his final performances, is touching as Edward's father/creator.
Edward Scissorhands is presented in a 1080p transfer encoded in MPEG2. Unfortunately, the transfer is somewhat disappointing. For the most part the video is clean, but at times can be unstable. The transfer is almost schizophrenic: compare the opening scene with the end: even though they are the bookends of the film (Grandma & the child) the opening is marred by heavy grain and noise, and the end scene is fairly clean and much sharper. During the story itself, grain is natural, but extremely heavy in some shots, especially opticals. Miniature and mattes appear even more artificial and unconvincing. Colors are bright, but can appear oversaturated at times with some noise. There is also some instability and flicker, a good example would be pretty much any dining room scene. The fireplace behind Adam Arkin almost appears to be projected, the flicker is so noticeable. I have a feeling this is in the source: the same flicker appears in the trailers. The sharpest, clearest scenes are actually the flashbacks with Vincent Price in the old mansion; those scenes are filled with rich textures, detail and depth that are missing for the majority of the film. There are no noticeable compression artifacts or edge enhancement. Overall, it's better than the DVD but not something you'd want to show off your HDTV with.
Audio wise, the sound fares not much better than the video. Encoded in 4.0 DTS-HD Master Audio, the film sound quality is good: dialogue is clear and easily understandable, sound effects and the music are crisp. However, as far as surround envelopment, it fails. The film is mainly mixed to the front speakers with few discrete surround effects. Even the majority score is confined to the front, a missed opportunity. Bass response is also limited. Again, not something you'd want to use as a demo. Seeing as this film played theatrically with CDS (Cinema Digital Sound) you would think this would be a more aggressive soundtrack. CDS tracks were full, discrete 5.1: films like Dick Tracy, Days of Thunder, and Terminator 2: Judgment Day used it until Dolby Stereo Digital was formally introduced in 1992 with (ironically) Burton's Batman Returns.
The film is also encoded in Dolby Digital (DD) 2.0 Stereo in French @ 224kbps and DD 2.0 Surround @ 192kbps in Spanish.
The package provided here by Fox is extremely slim, the Blu-ray loses the Concept Art and TV Spots from the recent 15th Anniversary DVD edition.
Commentary by Director Tim Burton (feature length, DD 2.0 @224 kbps): No surprise here: Burton is very fond of this film. He discusses where it was filmed (Florida) and what it took to convert an entire suburban neighborhood into the day-glo you see in the movie. He's aware of the comparisons to Frankenstein, the scene where the neighbors chase Edward he jokes about possibly giving them torches but thought better of it. He also discusses casting Johnny Depp and what pains the young actor took to become the character Burton envisioned. He fondly recalls working with the late Vincent Price, a dream come true for the director. Price had previously worked with Burton before on his short Vincent, but only as a narrator.
Commentary by Composer Danny Elfman (feature length, DD 2.0 @224 kbps): Elfman discusses one of his most famous scores. Interestingly, Elfman admits that at the time he felt that he was "dabbling" in film scores: his primary passion was still pop/rock music. Elfman also discusses why he scored scenes with certain themes and speaks of his close collaboration with director Burton. This almost doubles as a music only track because the majority of Elfman's commentary falls between cues. Unfortunately it is not in high bit rate multichannel.
Featurette (0:04:39, 1080i DD 2.0 @224 kbps): Short featurette from 1990 with on set interviews with Tim Burton and the rest of the cast with a generous amount of clips from the film. The interviews and clips are in fairly poor condition, looking more like upconverted Super VHS video and not film transferred to HD. Fun to see a very young Johnny Depp sans makeup, and the all too brief glimpses of production artwork.
Trailers (0:04:21 total, 1080p MPEG2, DD 2.0 @224 kbps): The film's teaser and final trailers presented in HD. They are in good condition; one bit of weirdness is the final trailer is cropped to 2.35 while the teaser is cropped to 1.33. Very odd aspect ratio choices for this 1.85 film.
Fox on Blu-ray (0:08:01 total): MPEG2 1080p HD trailers for Eragon (2.35, DD 5.1 @448kbps), The Fly (1.85, DD 2.0 @224kbps), The League of Extraordinary Gentleman (2.35, DD 5.1 @640kbps), Night At The Museum (1.85, DD 5.1 @448 kbps)
I enjoyed Edward Scissorhands now a lot more than I did in 1990. Some people may still not completely get it, but there is some genuine comedy and inventive designs to hook the casual viewer. The look of Edward is even more amusing when you realize that it predates the whole goth scene of the 1990's.
As a Blu-ray disc, the overall package is wanting, the audio and video don't measure up to some of the other catalog releases of the era. How much of these limitations are in the original film elements remains to be seen. The scarcity of the extras is also another sore point that hurts the overall value of the disc. I have a feeling we will have to wait until the inevitable 20th anniversary edition in 2010. Since Fox charges so much for their releases it's hard to recommend it for people other than the film's hardcore fans. Otherwise it is a solid rental.
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