Twilight Zone: The Movie Blu-ray offers decent video and solid audio in this enjoyable Blu-ray release
Four separate stories in one movie. First a racist businessman gets the tables turned on him when he is transported back in time to being persued by Nazis in 1940s France, becomes an African-American at a KKK rally in the 1950s South, and and then a Vietnamese in 1960s Vietnam. The second story centers around an old man who makes the wishes of residents at a retirement home come true when he transforms them into youthful versions of themselves. In the third story a young woman on the road gives a ride to a little boy and ends up trapped with other people in an alternate reality created by the boy's imagination. And in the final story a man on a plane sees, but cannot convince anyone else that a mysterious creature is on the outside wing of the plane trying to sabotage the aircraft.
For more about Twilight Zone: The Movie and the Twilight Zone: The Movie Blu-ray release, see Twilight Zone: The Movie Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on March 1, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
You are about to enter another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of
A journey into a wondrous land of imagination. Next stop, the Twilight Zone.
Those iconic words, spoken by the eloquent Rod Serling, served as the introduction to one of the
most popular, groundbreaking, and trendsetting television programs ever, "The Twilight
Zone." Originally aired on CBS from 1959-1964, the show proved one of the most admired
respected series both then and now, setting the pace for science fiction, horror, and fantasy
programs for decades to come, and influencing many top-flight science fiction, horror, and fantasy
programs in the years since, such as "The Outer Limits," "The X-Files," and even
"Masters of Horror".
The show remains a form of popular escapism in syndication today on the Sci-Fi channel. "The
Twilight Zone" experienced a rebirth on television for a brief
stint from 2002-2003 with actor Forrest Whitaker (The Air I Breathe)
assuming Rod Serling's role as narrator. Both critics and audiences found this new series a
disappointment, so much so that UPN dropped the program after only one season. Half way
original and the remake Hollywood offered us Twilight Zone: The Movie. In the tradition
of the show, the movie features four segments,
each hearkening back to an episode the original show had to offer
(featuring the actors Dean Stockwell, Billy Mumy, Ernest Truex , and William Shatner).
The four segments offered in the film featured the direction of Hollywood masters Joe Dante ("Masters of Horror:
Homecoming"), John Landis ("Masters of Horror: The Dear
Woman"), George Miller (The Road Warrior),
and Steven Spielberg (Close Encounters of the Third
High Definition? 1080p? Oh, we're happy with our VCR, thank you.
Dan Aykroyd (50 First Dates) and
Albert Brooks (The Simpsons Movie)
provide an amusing introduction to the film, discussing Serling's "The Twilight Zone," and
for entertainment a number of old television program theme songs. This short prologue leads
to a somewhat scary reveal by one of the characters that will ultimately be one half of the film's
bookends. After the opening title sequence played to the theme music from the original show,
the first segment, directed by John Landis and starring Vic Morrow, begins. Its inspiration is Rod
original story "The Quality of Mercy," which starred Dean Stockwell and Leonard Nimoy.
Bill Connor, a man whose prejudices against Jews, blacks, and Asians lands him in hot water.
After losing his job to a Jewish person, he rants and raves against all three of these groups whilst
sharing a drink with two of his friends. Upon leaving the bar, Connor finds himself time shifting
from Nazi-occupied Europe, to an old-south lynching, and to the jungles of Vietnam, seeing
himself but appearing to be Jewish, black, or Vietnamese to others. He finds himself in
each of these time periods transformed into a person against whom he holds deep
prejudices--Jews, blacks, and Asians--and tortured respectively by Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, and
soldiers fighting in Vietnam. In essence, he walks in the shoes of people whom he claims to hate.
It was during the filming of this episode that actor Vic Morrow and two children died on the film's
when a helicopter fell from the sky, killing all three. Despite the tragedy and the legal action that
followed, the studio completed the segment and released the film to theaters.
The second segment plays very similarly to another Serling-written episode entitled "Kick the
Can." This Steven
Spielberg directed segment definitely has the famous filmmaker's magic touch, and even if you
didn't know which segment he directed going in, there is no mistaking that this is his product.
Though *Batteries Not
Included and Cocoon are not Spielberg films, this segment shares a similar feel to
both. At a retirement home, a guest named Mr. Bloom
(Scatman Crothers, The Shining)
convinces the residents that a simple game of "kick the can" can rejuvenate them, rekindling
their childhood and making them feel young again. Of course, when the residents literally do
become young once more, they must consider whether the joys and hardships they experienced
throughout their years would make life worth living again, from youngsters to aged citizens.
Although this segment is often ranked as one of the lesser of the four, I enjoyed it. Between
the ease with which Spielberg creates a touching, pleasant, and somewhat supernatural world
and the excellent portrayal of Mr. Bloom by the wonderful Scatman Crothers (who is absolutely
perfect in this role), this one is definitely
worth watching and has me yearning to see the original episode on which it is based.
The Joe Dante directed third segment, based on the original episode "It's a Good Life,"
stars Kathleen Quinlan (Breakdown) as Helen Foley, a teacher waiting for something,
anything, to break up the monotony of her dull, routine life. Following a minor accident between
her car and a boy on a bicycle, she offers to give the boy, Anthony (Jeremy Licht, TV's "Valerie"),
home. When the two arrive at his home, Helen finds he lives in a "Leave it to
Beaver"-style 1950s home with overly friendly, almost cartoonish relatives. In fact, cartoons
play on numerous television sets throughout the house. When hamburgers with peanut
butter, potato chips,
candied apples, and cookies are served for dinner, Helen becomes even more suspicious of both
Anthony and the all-too-perfect, kid-centered life he lives. Of course, a dark secret looms, and as
the mystery is revealed, Helen must choose between flight or acceptance of this new, upside-
down world. A
Joe Dante has created a cartoon come-to-life in this segment, replete with the sounds, colors,
wild and imaginative things that go along with it.
The final segment of the film, and perhaps the most energized, stars the ever reliable John
portraying airline passenger John Valentine, a man whose fear of flying is so extreme that he
sweats profusely and remains in the plane's restroom for as long as possible. When he is finally
forced to return to his seat by sympathetic yet annoyed flight attendants, he begins to see a
creature attacking the wing of a plane. Already in a violent storm and having lost one engine to a
lightning strike, the plane's crew attempt to subdue an unruly, supposedly hallucinogenic
passenger. As the plane moves closer to its destination, he becomes more and more convinced
that something is out there, bent on destroying the plane and killing her passengers and crew.
Director George Miller may be the least-known of the four directors, but his segment was, for
me, the most entertaining. What a way to cap off the film! A man with a bout of paranoia
coupled with a fear
of flying--a phobia shared by many--makes this one intense, scary, and definitely worthy of both
Twilight Zone monicker, and the original episode on which it is based, Nightmare at
20,000 Feet, starring William Shatner and directed by Richard Donner (Superman II).
For the most part, this film is simply an
updated version of four classic episodes. Each fan of the original series will no doubt have a
unique reaction to this movie. The
movie does stay rather true to the television series, never takes advantage of the film
medium, and refrains from being gory or turning into a horror movie. Other than having a
major studio behind it to lure in A-list actors and directors, and a slightly bigger budget, I don't
think this offering really benefits from a full-length movie release. It would have been equally as
as a kick-off to a remake of the series on television. Nevertheless, it is what it is, and every fan
the original series will want to check this out if they already haven't and decide for themselves.
Warner Brothers brings Twilight Zone: The Movie into this dimension in 1080p high
definition and in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. For a film released some 25 years ago, this one
looks about as good as one could hope. Save for the third segment, the image is often drab in
appearance, staying true to source material that sports less than vibrant colors, especially evident
the first segment. Along with black levels that are good but not great, the image we see is clear,
distortions on the print, and of a fairly high level of detail. Flesh tones sometimes appear on the
redder side of natural. Segment one looks good. It's a bit grainy in places, detail is only
moderately high, and skin tones look moderately good throughout. The second segment is
balanced, though a few outdoor shots look a bit hot, especially the whites. With the
of the story and being familiar with the look of Spielberg's work in general, I would guess this is
how he wanted the
to appear. The third segment is definitely the best looking for my money, sporting a crystal-clear
picture and lifelike imagery, and save for the actor's hairstyles, this one could pass for being
newer than it is. It's detailed, crisp, and colorful with no visible wear on the print. Segment four,
like the first, is fairly dark in nature. It is perhaps the grainiest of the bunch, and black levels fare
just a bit worse here than in the first segment. Despite some bright colors, such as the reds of
the seats and the blanket Valentine covers up with, the palette seems a bit muted and lifeless.
Overall, the image looks good, but there is a lack of fine detail, depth, and clarity visible on newer
movies and prints. For a 25 year old film, however, this one looks just fine on Blu-ray high
The included PCM 5.1 high definition soundtrack accompanying Twilight Zone: The Movie is
sometimes good and at others, otherworldly. When the film's opening credits come up, there is
some very discrete use of sound. A voice moves around the room, glass shatters over your
left shoulder, and various, bizarre sounds swirl throughout the listening area, at a rather
pronounced and high volume. Each segment offers a unique, crisp and defined sound
track that is loud, hot, and engaging. The militaristic music in the first is especially impressive.
There is quite a bit of active, kinetic use of sound throughout the picture, especially in the third
segment near its conclusion. Robust hardly even begins to describe it. Sounds come at you from
every direction, and it makes the segment all the more cartoonish and fun. Dialogue reproduction,
especially the narration that leads off each segment, is clear, natural, and pleasantly spooky. I'm
impressed with Warner's efforts on this one, and the engaging use of sound makes each segment
the more effective, and the inclusion of a high-definition soundtrack elevates this one to unexpected
A film ripe for a plethora of supplemental materials, Twilight Zone: The Movie on Blu-
ray includes only the film's theatrical trailer, presented in 480p 4:3 (black bars on the sides of the
image). Probably due to the controversy surrounding the film because of the deaths of actor Vic
Morrow and two youngsters, the studio has foregone the inclusion of extras, and the problem likely
lies in little to no interest in revisiting a sore subject and sad period in filmmaking history. Still,
extras pertaining to the discussion of the differences and similarities of each of the original episodes
which these segments were based would have been most welcome.
Twilight Zone: The Movie will likely be a love-it-or-hate-it type film for fans of the original
series. Although the spirit of the show stays true to the feel of the iconic television program,
presenting what are in essence remakes of four of the most popular episodes seems, to me, a
cop-out rather than an homage. I feel that the best homage is one that stays true to the source
creates a new story that adds to the lore rather than re-imagining it, and only one of these two
criteria are met in Twilight Zone: The Movie. For fans of the movie, picking up this disc on
Blu-ray should be an easy choice to make. It sports an image quality that is about what one would
expect for a film of this stature and era, and the uncompressed PCM soundtrack delivers a fine,
loud, and engaging presentation. Supplements are next to non-existent save for a horrible looking
4:3 trailer. While I enjoyed each segment, none of them struck me especially noteworthy. As a fan
of science fiction and the paranormal, I was eager to see this movie for the first time but walked
away just a bit underwhelmed and disappointed. I can only recommend Twilight Zone: The
Movie as a buy for established fans of the film.
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