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  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • French: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
    English, French, Dutch, English - Hearing Impaired, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish

    Dick Tracy

    Buena Vista/Warner Bros. . R4 . COLOR . 101 mins . PG . PAL


    Making huge headlines in 1990 for its dynamic new approach to film making was this latest comic book adventure brought to life on the big screen. The computer-aided special effects were mind boggling for the time and the make-up was Academy Award-winning stuff. All of which blinded people to the fact that the story was pretty ordinary and Warren Beatty as Dick Tracy was about as flavourless as four day old gum.

    Enough has been said in the past about Madonna’s performance, so I won’t go there. Other than to state that this was shot before she had the gap between her front teeth widened, before she was sagging and plastic surgeryised and while she still held at least a measure of interest to the public. But she’s just as flavourless as Beatty, so their chemistry is like watching tap water mix with tap water. In the dark.

    "You know, Tracy, for a tough guy you sure do a lot of pansy things!"

    Let’s dig up the story here for the non-initiates...

    Someone is wiping out the gangs in the city and leaving messages for Dick Tracy (Beatty) in bullet holes on the wall. Big Boy Caprice (Al Pacino) is gathering up the gangs so as to have complete control of the city, however, Dick Tracy and his men are always one step ahead. The Kid (Charlie Korsmo) a dirty-faced street urchin, has information and so does Breathless Mahoney (Madonna) a sleazy club singer. Building his case, Tracy and his men are always one step ahead of Big Boy’s plans, so a set-up to get rid of Tracy once and for all is required. Enter The Blank, a faceless boogieman who is doing his fair share of killing throughout the city as well. With a forged letter, a big chunk of cash, a bullet-filled corpse and an unconscious Tracy, our hero is framed and set to go away for a long time. That is until his men come through and rescue him, but now Tracy’s true love Tess Trueheart (Glenne Headly) has been kidnapped! It just never stops for our fearless avatar of justice.

    There’s more of course, but the plot twists and turns are for you to experience. The hugely underrated Glenne Headly as Tracy’s girlfriend is the real gem of this film. She has the right street smart exterior and... erm, true... heart, to fulfil the role magnificently and is among only two beacons shining on this drab acting climate. Al Pacino, ever great, has bags of fun with this role, finally playing a gangster with a sense of humour and he brings his scenes to life. Other than that, thank God the film looks so damn beautiful.


    The film first strikes you as colourful and it just doesn’t stop. There are bright, lurid colours all over the place at any given time and this really does justice to the comic strip feel. Computer aided animation was in some of its earliest days here, and there has been no expense spared to bring this puppy to life. Transitions from real footage to animated or painted backgrounds are practically seamless and the vast shots of the city’s heart are awesome, even by today’s standard.

    Colour runs riot through the piece and has been treated superbly by Buena Vista (as usual). Nothing is too richly saturated and everything looks deliciously even and well balanced. While there are film artefacts aroundabout, there isn’t anything overpowering or annoying. Everything looks so beautifully cartoony here, with even the myriad flesh tones and heavily made-up cast looking okay as far as realism goes. Blacks are pretty true to life, but the only real fault with the video is in the darker scenes where we lose a great deal of the detail, particularly in the final sequence inside the darkened drawbridge. However, everything else is shit hot.


    Dolby Digital 5.1 surround delivers the crystal clear sound into our laps quite comfortably. Dialogue is all great, including Dustin Hoffman’s awesome mumbling performance as Mumbles. The Blank’s gravelly ‘Princess-Leia-in-Jabba’s-Palace’ voice even comes across alright, though it does get a little irksome by film’s end. Thankfully Blank doesn’t appear until around halfway though.

    The music is a real treat here as well, with Madonna even sounding alright singing several of the film’s show tunes. Set among the sleazy prohibition ’20s era, the music reflects this in the original songs, while Danny Elfman’s magnificent score puts us firmly down among the cartoons and comics. But then, he doesn’t make bad score, does he? There are also tracks performed by performers such as k.d.lang and Jerry Lee Lewis, though of course they don’t appear in the film.

    Sound effects are well utilised and whilst incorporating some stock sound effects, these have been used in a kitschy way to capture the spirit of those old cop serials of the ’40s and ’50s. All up, the sound complements the visuals well and while not a huge surround workout, is still fairly good for the purposes intended.


    This is where the disc is let down. Are they trying to tell us that nothing about the remarkable makeup or colour palette was documented or sold to TV? I would seriously doubt it, but unfortunately the crumbs haven’t given us a single jot and we don’t get nuthin’. Write your MP!


    Well, the film looks and sounds bloody great, but Beatty and Madonna were knockin’ boots and heads, by the sputtering fizzle of their on-screen chemistry. There is a certain amount of fun to be had finding the small parts of folks who weren’t so big at the time (like Kathy Bates and Colm Meaney), but the story is rather flaccid and lacks any real depth. Yeah, I know it’s a comic strip movie, but half the appeal of the strip was in looking at the funny caricatures of gangsters and their funny names. While this has been well covered by the excellent makeup of the supporting cast, where was Beatty’s to look more like the sharp-angled Tracy? He looks like a sack of flour in a yellow trenchcoat. And Madonna isn’t really very sexy, no matter how much she says she is.

    Aficionados will love it and the film does look superb. There’s little doubt Dick Tracy did help pave the way for our slightly more advanced comic book movies of today and if you look past the shallow storyline, you and the kids are bound to enjoy the awesome production.

  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=3210
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      And I quote...
    "Beatty and Madonna set the screen on runny."
    - Jules Faber
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