Romancing the Stone Review

Despite limited screen time, Danny DeVito walks away with Romancing the Stone. Sure, Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner are wonderfully likeable, and have perfect chemistry for one another, but DeVito’s charm is instant.

As DeVito sits in a police station calling his boss, he notices a wanted poster on the wall of himself. Being so short, he is unable to reach it over a desk. While still in the middle of the conversation, which is carefully worded to avoid arousing the suspicions of authorities, he leaps up, misses his mark, and topples over the other side, still clinging to the phone.

As Ralph, DeVito is tumbles down a hill, runs away from cars, and completely botches a kidnapping. He may be the center of the comic relief, but he is hilarious, and nails every action required of him.

Maybe that is underselling the leads, including Turner who has a sister kidnapped by thugs until she can meet them in Colombia to deliver a treasure map sent to her. Joan Wilder (Turner) is nothing but a romance novelist, yet quick enough on her feet to adapt in order to cross a rickety bridge while thugs shoot at her. She does not even need a push from Jack T. Colton (Douglas). Her adventurous spirit and guts take over, that rare female character who handle business on her own.

There is little doubt the influence for Romancing the Stone was the Indiana Jones series, and while it may be capitalizing on some of that fame, it establishes itself as its own product. While the jungles and adventure elements are familiar, Romancing carries less of a mystical aspect, a romance that is entirely believable, and that hokey, unforgettable finale.

It is hard to imagine an ending with more going on. Guns are firing, crocodiles are attacking, knives are being thrown, hands are being severed, people are screaming, and the damsel is in distress but in a change of pace, manages on her own. That is the height of ‘80s action filmmaking, at least without Arnold Schwarzenegger or Stallone in the lead roles.

Movie ★★★★☆ 

Fox delivers a wonderful AVC effort for Romancing’s Blu-ray debut. While it may be lacking in the area of high fidelity facial textures, the lush environments are presented beautifully. The jungle photography is spectacular, with well-defined grass, leaves, and other foliage.

Other textures, such as the muddy ground and the wood door around 57:10 reveal striking levels of unexpected detail. Even the crocodiles, especially those in the mud pit, show off some excellent texture. Some rare struggles with high contrast ringing (especially in the opening fantasy scene) are easily ignored as you take in the lush colors of Colombia and tremendous depth from rich black levels.

Fine grain is never a problem, and flesh tones are generally accurate. Even in darker scenes, such as the cave or the nighttime shelter in the plane, everything remains clean without a muddy or dim quality. The source, marred by only a few limited specks, is preserved nicely.

Video ★★★★☆ 

A DTS-HD mix is hindered by the age of the source. The soundtrack remains firmly in the mid-range, and the subwoofer is never utilized. Gunfire is muffled and hollow. Although dialogue carries that same quality, it is consistent and always audible.

Surrounds are used for ambiance, such as the crowded airport, falling rain, water dripping in the cave, and the animal calls of the jungle. The only tracking occurs in the stereo channels, occasionally offering an effect or vehicle movement. Gunfire sits firmly planted in the center even during hectic chase sequences.

Audio ★★★☆☆ 

Eight deleted scenes (18:58 total) mark the beginning of the special features, while a fun 20-minute retrospective/making of titled Rekindling the Romance follows. A Hidden Treasure is a short but poignant remembrance of screenwriter Diane Thomas. Douglas, Turner, DeVito Pick their Favorite Scenes is self-explanatory, spliced together with interviews. Michael Douglas Remembers contains interviews from 1984 with the cast as Douglas himself looks back, but the whole thing only runs 2:23.

Extras ★★★☆☆ 

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