Edward Scissorhands Widescreen Anniversary Edition DVD Review
PictureThis THX certified transfer comes in with an anamorphic 1.85:1 image that is absolutely splendid in close-up, but a little underwhelming once backgrounds are taken into consideration. The blacks are incredible - just the opening titles alone should be enough to convince you of that, with the stark white credits in sharp relief against the beautifully rich depth of the gothic darkness that surrounds them. Edward's initial punk costume and the wealthy stock of deep shadow in the house on the hill all benefit considerably, even Edward's dark eyes seem to glisten. Very impressive.
Equally impressive is the range and fidelity of the colours on display, which are wonderfully warm, bold and inviting. The blue skies are lush and clear and the resplendent glory of all those pastel shades down in fantastical suburbia paint the screen all the colours of the rainbow without any hint of bleeding, smearing or over-saturation. A terrific job of enlivening the palette has been achieved, although I couldn't find my original R2 copy to cross-reference whether or not this edition has been spruced up.
There is some grain in evidence and even some small elements of print damage on occasion, but this does not detract from the image to any great extent. However, there is some edge enhancement throughout that is a lot more apparent on much larger screens.
Detail can be extremely good - the grass verges and the immaculately manicured lawns, the faces and the clothes and furnishings and, especially, the wonderful architecture and topiary up at Edward's house. Check out the rust patterns on the iron door fastenings and the grain on the old masonry. And then there's the sharply intricate design of Edward, himself, his scissors and knives and the fine fashioning of his costume - all very well presented with a keen eye for detail that the disc copes with admirably. But - there had to be one, didn't there? - once people and objects move a little further away they seem to haze over slightly and become much less distinct. Edward standing on a neighbour's lawn loses detail considerably, the houses a short way down the street drop in clarity and the townsfolk converging upon his hilltop domain at the end lack integrity. There is even some very slight distortion in a couple of frames towards the end, but I suspect that this down to the original print and not the DVD transfer.
Overall though, Edward Scissorhands still looks pretty impressive. The image is strong and vivid, and the colour a joy.
SoundJust like the older release, this Anniversary Edition carries a Dolby Digital 4.0 mix. Now, to be honest, this sounds simply fantastic whenever Danny Elfman's score is playing, really suffusing the living room with his luxurious and sublime melodies. It truly sweeps in at you with its heart-aching and moving eloquence, so if you've a tendency to blubber - be careful, or else watch it alone. Several scenes have the music literally engulfing you, and the effect is terrific.
The track also contains plenty of accurate effects - the abundant snikting and clicking of Edward's blades as he creates topiary, bizarre hairdos and grooms dogs, the rustling minutia of his probing of new objects and garments, even the likes of phones ringing from the left or right. Voices are steered confidently around the set-up, too, and dialogue is kept clear and crisp, never swamped or muffled. One great sequence that features marvellous use of directional sound is when Edward carves a dinosaur out of the garden hedge, whilst Alan Arkin's Dad sits guzzling beer and listening to the baseball game on the radio. It's nothing too dynamic, or ear-bashing, but the whole ensemble of voices, cutting blades and cans being popped is steered to very pleasant and realistic effect.
The rears get a tiny amount of action, but they are predominantly used to reinforce the score or to provide ambience backup. But the film is a front-heavy experience anyway, so don't feel that there is anything lacking in the transfer. Overall, this is a lovely presentation that provides plenty of presence and some neat little moments of smart steerage.
ExtrasAsides from the lovely collector's tin box and the inclusion of some attractive stills in a posh little envelope, the extras on this Anniversary Edition are just what was available on the original R2 release from a few years ago ... which is a bit deflating.
Anyway, first of all we get a Commentary Track from Tim Burton which, if you've ever heard one from the director before, you will not be surprised to discover that it is woefully slight on spontaneity, wit or even enthusiasm. Burton may be a great and talented filmmaker, but his mumbling drawl on chat tracks makes for a less than spirited experience. He starts off well - admitting the whole personal aspect of this movie and it is nice to hear him speak about his idol, Vincent Price, with genuine warmth - but, pretty soon, he degenerates into long periods of silence and then lots of “you know's” and “um-er's”. Considerably less than enthralling.
The second Commentary is from Burton's musical twin, Danny Elfman. Now this, again, is hardly the type of chat track that you would normally expect. In fact, apart from the composer introducing his themes, motivations and inspirations during the quiet moments, it plays more specifically as a music-only track. And, as such, it is quite successful. I love this soundtrack, and Elfman's scores in general, so it is great to hear snippets of the music's genesis, tiny insights into the man himself and then each full track without the hindrance of dialogue or effects. Still, this isn't a proper commentary track.
Then we get the untitled Featurette, which doesn't have a clock running alongside it, but can only possibly last about three minutes. Basically this is the type of whimsical dross that accompanies a film's opening. So, comparatively vintage, this slight piece offers puff-pastry promo from all the film's principles that merely play up the fable aspect of the gothic fairytale. An utter waste of time, I'm afraid.
Next we have a set of Soundbites, again un-timed but lasting barely a couple of minutes apiece. Those with something to say are Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, Dianne Weist, Tim Burton, Caroline Thompson - the writer, Alan Arkin, Vincent Price and Danny Elfman. Just like the featurette, these are culled from the time of the film's release, and are mushy, slushy and weirdly naff. Most of the participants are asked only two questions - which are cue-carded on-screen for us - and the soundbites last only for a minute or so each. Thompson, the writer, tries to be erudite but is only given a short time to get her points across. Price, however, steals the show despite the meagre slot he is awarded. Even if this was just a low-key first release, let alone an Anniversary re-release, this is still a complete travesty - even these pathetic little soundbites are just snipped from some lengthier feature that we aren't privy to. Lousy.
Then we get a couple of Theatrical Trailers, an English TV Spot and two Spanish TV Spots. WOW!
And finally, we are treated to some Concept Art. Now, given Burton's fabulously quirky eye and gift for artwork, you could be forgiven for thinking that, at last, we are going to discover something of worth in this lacklustre assortment of special features. Wrong, I'm afraid. What we get here is nothing more exciting than six very slight pencil sketches. Is that it? Are we supposed to call this an Anniversary Edition?
This gets marked down for being an insult to our intelligence. I know it's only a slight film, an odd little fable, but it definitely deserves better than the poor offerings served up here.
VerdictBasically all that you are getting extra with this Anniversary package ... is just that - the package! Yep, the lovely embossed-relief tin box with Edward draped very strikingly down one side. All very nice, and if you don't already own a copy of the film then I recommend this release without reservation. If you do, however, then it is a different story, I'm afraid. With only a few, admittedly, very nice stills to entice you, this release offers nothing new to the mix. I can't comment as to whether or not the print has been fully re-mastered or not, but I can't imagine that the sound has been altered, and the picture, whilst marvellous at times, still looks roughly the same as I remember it. And the extras, just as on the original edition, are distinctly lacking. But, it is still a great film.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £12.39
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