Who Framed Roger Rabbit?(Blu-ray)
Director - Robert Zemeckis
Cast - Bob Hoskins, Charles Fleischer, Christopher Lloyd
Country of Origin - U.S.
Discs - 2
Distributor - Disney
Reviewer - Scott MacDonald
Date - 04/21/13
The Film (4/5)
Until the Blu-ray of Roger Rabbit arrived in my mailbox last week I hadn't seen the film since the first day the film opened in theaters during the summer of 1988. I remember seeing films ranging from the Care Bears Movie to Ghostbusters in theaters previously, but I remember the run-up to Who Framed Roger Rabbit's release being particularly significant as it was the second film I followed from advertisements to release (the first being Willow, which I ended up not getting to see in theaters due to Chicken Pox).
Who Framed Roger Rabbit? came during the period in Robert Zemeckis career where he still had a fine grasp on balancing special effects technology and entertainment. This was before 3D and CGI became his primary tools and the idea of creating an entertaining film went out the window. Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Effectively combined traditional animation with live action film in a way that could have felt gimmicky, should the film have not been so entertaining.
When I originally watched Who Framed Roger Rabbit? I remember it being a fun and entertaining film, coming back to the film nearly 25 years later it's almost like watching an entirely different film, and that film is Chinatown. I knew when going into Roger Rabbit that the film would have a noir-ish quality that I would better pick up on now then when I was 6, what I didn't expect was to see direct parallels to one of Roman Polanski's finest films, but it is certainly there if you are to look.
The film involves a private investigator with a tragic past who does investigations into relationship situations. He ends up taking a case that leads him from a relationship to a public utility issue (in this case Toontown). I started watching the film expecting a typical film noir plot with animation, and what I got could have past for the third entry in the never-completed Chinatown trilogy only with a cast made up primarily of some of the greatest cartoon characters of all time.
The film takes place in late 1940's Hollywood, only in this reality toons live alongside humans. Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins, Brazil) is a Private Investigator hired to spy on toon starlet Jessica Rabbit wife of Maroon Cartoons number 1 star Roger Rabbit. Valiant ends up photographing Jessica playing Patty Cake with Rival Studio head Marvin Acme. Within a day of the photos getting out Acme is dead, and Roger Rabbit has been charged by the evil Judge Doom (Christopher Lloyd) as the primary suspect. Roger turns to Valiant in a last ditch effort to get to the bottom of the case, save his life, and possibly ToonTown the Hollywood offshoot where all Toons live.
Roger Rabbit looks pretty damn impressive on this new Disney/Buena Vista Blu-ray release. It has been presented in a very good 1:85:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer. I haven't seen this film since theaters so I don't have anything to compare it to, however, I will say fine detail is generally impressive, as are the colors which are bright and solid. There is a healthy organic grain structure present on the film. The only issue I can see on the transfer are the black levels which are decent at best, and there are some issues with black crush in certain spots.
Disney/Buena Vista have put together a solid package for their 25th anniversary release of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? The disc kicks off with a cast and crew commentary lead by director Robert Zemeckis. We then get the 3 Roger Rabbit shorts Tummy Trouble, Roller Coaster Rabbit, and Trail Mix-up remastered in HD. We then get an archival 11 minute Behind the Scenes Featurette called Who Made Roger Rabbit? This leads into a 5 minute deleted scene referred to as The Pig Head Sequence. We then get 3 minutes of SD before and after footage which shows the live action footage before animation is added. We then get to a 3 minute demonstration piece called Toon Stand In's that show the puppets used to guide the actors on set. This is followed by a 36 minute Production Diary called Behind the Ears, a 5 minute Behind the scenes featurette, and a production notes subtitle track.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit? is nothing short of a classic. It blends a live action and animation with a film-noir plot to create something fun, funny, and unique. The A/V restoration isn't perfect, but it truly looks fantastic, and Disney has created a nice slate of extras for this release. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.