Black Moon Rising Blu-ray Review
It makes you wonder when even writer John Carpenter wouldn't direct it.
Black Moon Rising Film Review
Written by John Carpenter, Black Moon Rising is little more than a splice of episodes of Knight Rider and Mission: Impossible.It is a shame, really, as Carpenter could have actually probably pulled off a considerably more interesting, atmospheric affair on a budget, but little-known director Harley Cokeliss has little handle on the material, which is further hobbled by an insubstantial plot, an inept editor, a score by Lalo Schifrin which appears to be a lazy dupe of Arthur B. Rubinstein's memorable electro-score for Blue Thunder the preceding year, a random gimmick of a car which has zero actual relevance to the plot, and uncommitted acting from its three core cast members.
The story follows a Tommy Lee Jones' as thief, who is hired by the FBI to steal a vital file, and inexplicably hides it in the bodyshell of a prototype hydrogen-fuelled supercar, which is itself stolen by a group of luxury car thieves, fronted by Linda Hamilton, working on behalf of Robert Vaughn. It's flimsy at best, with the titular car crowbarred into the plot and then woefully under-utilised, relying instead on a chemistry-less romance between Jones and Hamilton (sporting the world's biggest hair) and insubstantial threat from Vaughn (himself with a really odd business model on pedalling luxury cars from a skyrise) to try to maintain your interest.
Black Moon Rising shoots for prize turkey, a mark it repeatedly hits
Right from the nonsensical opening scene (which isn't even properly framed, and is laughably amateurish when it comes to the acting - even from Jones) Black Moon Rising shoots for prize turkey, a mark it repeatedly hits, with Jones coming across as the least convincing master thief, Hamilton the least likely car thief, and the car looking like an upended oversized sled spray-painted black and set on wheels. About the only stunt worth even mentioning is memorable only in retrospect, as it looks like it was re-envisaged for Fast & Furious 7. It's about as impressive as a two-parter of Knight Rider, with a little added blood.
Carpenter wrote a slew of his own films, but that's not really what he is known for - instead it's the minimalist structure that perfectly suits his moody directorial flair (and even his simple but iconic scores). However without that, this flimsy tale just falls apart, appallingly realised, characterised and just an all-round car-wreck of a film.
Black Moon Rising Blu-ray PictureArrow dig deep for this 1986 flick, coming up with a rather nice 2K restoration pulled from the film's original 35mm interpositive. The resulting 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation, framed in its theatrical 1.85:1 aspect ratio, is far from perfect, but has moments where it polishes up pretty impressively.
A nice 2K restoration pulled from the film's original 35mm interpositive
Detail can be variable, and there is some softness - with some scenes even going so far as to exhibit a hint of residual damage in the form of brief scratches - but there are also several not infrequent close-ups that pull up every line and pore on Tommy Lee Jones' craggy face, rendering a very pleasing, textured image that is easily the best you could possibly expect and every bit as good as a 2K restoration could provide for. The colour scheme is nicely and naturally enriched, and black levels fluctuate but, for the most part, hold strong, affording a solid backdrop to the darker sequences. It's not consistent demo quality, but there are plenty of impressive shots that leave this likely the best the film has ever looked, and probably the best it ever will too.
Black Moon Rising Blu-ray SoundThe audio options are also commendable, with the original soundtrack rendered with an uncompressed Linear PCM 2.0 offering as well as a remixed DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 alternative, which is easily the preferred choice. Sure, the 2.0 track is more natural, but it is also a slightly lighter, less substantial accompaniment, which only highlights the age and budget of the piece.
The audio options are also commendable
The 5.1 track hardly provides a conclusively immersive, bracing aural accompaniment, but it does expand the use of the array, somewhat separating the clearly delivered dialogue - which is still front-dominated, as with the majority of this track - and the effects, which mostly revolve around revving or rocket-powered car engines (think: Knight Rider) and thunderous (at least in that quintessential 80s way) gunfire. The score is pure Blue Thunder, retooled, but affords the track yet more material to play with. It's not even close to being demo, but it's about the best we could expect from this production, and remains faithful throughout.
Black Moon Rising Blu-ray ExtrasArrow's extras package is easily the highlight of the disc, headlined by an Audio Commentary from author Lee Gambin, who is something of a Stephen King expert. The remainder of the extras are largely Interview-based, including Black Moon Ascending, an interview with the director; Thief in The Night: Producing Black Moon Rising, an interview with the producer; as well as Sound of Speed: Composing Black Moon Rising, which has Lalo Schifrin on hand in interview.
Arrow's extras package is easily the highlight of the disc
There's also a Video Essay on John Carpenter's screenwriting career, and Making Black Moon Rising, which is an archival EPK piece. An alternative workprint opening scene offers nothing worth watching beyond low quality video and unfinished shots, whilst the Alternative Hong Kong scenes are remarkable only because of the alternative score - which appears to be the only substantial difference, and which is basically the score to Jackie Chan's Police Story movies!
The disc is rounded out by Galleries and Trailers, and the package completed with reversible artwork.
Black Moon Rising Blu-ray VerdictThis flimsy tale just falls apart, appallingly realised, characterised and just an all-round car-wreck of a film
Arrow's lavish release of Black Moon Rising provides 2K remastered video, lossless audio in both the original 2.0 and an alternative 5.1, and a wealth of great extra features - fans of the film should consider it an excellent release that is well worth picking up.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.99
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