Holy Man wants to be an R-rated film, almost to the point of desperation. The mold is thus that it’s forced to work around immature, crude, childish gags about balls and penises, all with the premise of this unspecified Holy Man wandering around a TV studio in a cloak. Who is Eddie Murphy. Right about the time we as a movie audience stopped caring.
The late ’90s crushed Murphy’s attraction, a crying shame since the decade sprouted his career to life with Nutty Professor, Boomerang, and well, Beverly Hills Cop 3, but let’s ignore that for a moment. Holy Man represents Murphy’s entire downfall, reduced from a loudmouth hustler with quick wits to a calmer, dryer, and child-friendly aesthetic that is miles from his prime schtick. Murphy, as of now, still wants it to work, but the audience won’t bite.
Maybe the bigger crime here is Jeff Goldblum being paired with Murphy, two clashing personalities primed to work against one other. Here, they’re equally drained, Goldblum’s sly, repetitive mannerisms playing off calming, peaceful role-shattering ideals. The conflict is mundane because the characters are, and the message is lost in a story that takes 45-minutes before a glimmer of light appears on screen. The film takes an eternity to reach point B from point A, and it still has three other stops to make.
It’s so simple, yet requires a mountain of contrivances to source any emotion. The quirks that initiate the Goldblum/Murphy/Kelly Preston character arc, that of a highway tire blowout where cell phones -of course- don’t function, is sapped in seconds. Each joke, each major line, and each development is stretched out to a mile in length in a struggle for relevant content.
Holy Man needed the hacksaw approach to its editing, and arguably a stronger script in the first place. Redundancies are endless, including a scene where the Holy Man (known only as G) must defend himself against a woman claiming to be his ex-wife. The sequence is aimless, the woman dropped from the script along with the villain of the piece, whose actual, futile actions could be cut in their entirety. They have no bearing on the events short of forcing drama where the script is already bloated with it. Goldblum panics about his job and finances, G does something stupid, Goldblum panics about his job and finances, G does something stupid, and the audience yawns infinitely because the material isn’t brave enough to break that cycle.
Holy Man has some problems on Blu-ray. Specifically, medium shots carry signs of light filtering that will void texture, and the encode isn’t up on how to prevent banding. The first shot post-credits is of a ceiling light, the rays hitting bumps in their transitions that are unclean. You’ll see that issue creep in elsewhere too, including an ocean swim in the evening where the sky can’t manage transitions.
But -and this is a but in consideration of all of Mill Creek’s releases- everything else clicks. Slap dash as these catalog releases are, Holy Man has moments of brilliance. The master can be placed as mostly recent, say the later 2000s, and that benefit clearly shows through within the available high-fidelity detail. Close-ups are outstanding in their resolution, offering a density and precision unexpected from these “designed to be bargain bin” discs.
Mill Creek’s penchant for keeping discs lean on BD-25s doesn’t smash the film grain into a mushy mess. It’s down, but not out, kept at bay with a little too much aggression. That’s probably where the dullness of the mid-range material comes in, along with that veneer of filtering mentioned just above. What’s important here is that grain still looks like grain, even if it’s reduced in its capacity. That’s a halleluiah moment.
Need more signs the scan isn’t up to date? Perky primaries saturate themselves with too much energy, reds always a tell tale sign that something is amiss. It clashes with the generally flat, albeit warm, palette produced elsewhere. Something has to pop out at the viewer, right? Black levels will nicely work themselves in without any dominate concerns, and the print itself? Immaculate. Holy Man is aging gracefully, even if the content itself is not.
It’s hard to notice that Holy Man was released in what is considered the modern sound era, placed after Jurassic Park rocked theaters with unbelievable audio in ’93. With five years to spare, you’d guess the sound designers here learned nothing. You can’t even call the highlights, well, highlights. It’s more of a flatline effect where sounds are scattered around the soundfield in the hopes no one will notice.
You can hop over to the 1:15:00 marker, this being the scene where G is swamped with reporters outside of the studio. Cameras click as if this were the ’50s and ancient flash bulbs were popping ad nauseum. The problem is they have no direction, the fronts and surrounds blending almost seamlessly, but not for any placement effect. They’re working in tandem, as if the whole DTS-HD mix was developed using the principals of Dolby Pro Logic.
The score does some stuff, a few instruments peaking over the ridge behind the listener. Years separating this release from its theatrical run hasn’t introduced any negligible fidelity concerns, dialogue as crisp as one could reasonably expect. Before anyone jumps in on the, “It’s a dialogue driven comedy” routine, even films like this can afford to spread out their audio in a more direct manner.
A trailer. That’s it.
Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For more information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.