Los Angeles, 1962. Calvin Webber (Christopher Walken), a paranoid and eccentric Cal-Tech professor, has built an elaborate fall out shelter in his backyard. With the Cuban missile crisis in full swing, he ushers his heavily pregnant wife (Sissy Spacek) into the shelter. When a wayward jet fighter crashes into their home, Calvin is convinced that Armageddon is upon them and seals the radiation doors for 35 years. In all the commotion, his wife goes into labour and soon after, a son Adam is born into their subterranean home.
It’s 35 years later, Adam (Brendan Fraser) has been raised in a cultural bubble, and (understandably) he’s getting pretty horny. When it’s time for Adam to finally surface and find supplies for his family, all he really wants in all the world is to find a wife that’s not a mutant (and comes from Pasadena). And so up he goes armed only with his wholesome 60s values. The first girl he meets, the beautiful but love-scarred Eve (Alicia Silverstone), begrudgingly agrees to help him – both to find supplies, and to find a wife. Adam is instantly smitten.
Needless to say, wacky hiijinx ensue, but will it all turn out in the end?
The "fish out of water" story is nothing new to Brendan Fraser. This was, after all, his third exploration of it, and in practically the same circumstances. With ‘Encino Man’, ‘George of the Jungle’ and now 'Blast From the Past' Fraser plays innocent or naive characters coming to terms with the modern world.
So we’ve seen all this before, right? Well ... no, not quite.
Firstly, after stretching his wings in ‘Gods and Monsters’ Fraser seems much more self-assured in this role than he has previously. But where ‘Blast from the Past’ really stands out is in its excellent supporting cast. Both Christopher Walken and Sissy Spacek are fantastic as Adam’s moral yet twisted parents; Spacek’s portrayal of a confined housewife going slowly insane is a hilarious counter-point to Walken's paranoid and slightly-mad scientist. Their casting against type is a great move and works to enhance the comedy. Walken is especially funny.
I have always enjoyed Dave Foley, and he is in top form as Silverstone’s gay room-mate and confidante; stealing every scene that he is in. With such a fantasic supporting cast, it is enough for Fraser’s trademark innocence and Silverstone’s quirky expressions to carry their performances. Both slip comfortably into their roles, creating appealing, if a little stereotypical characters.
It’s been over 15 years since writer/director Hugh Wilson brought the original ‘Police Academy’ film to our screens. I guess it's time we forgave him. With more recent projects like ‘First Wives Club’ and ‘Guarding Tess’, he has certainly matured as a writer (let’s conveniently ignore ‘Dudley Do-Right’ for the time being shall we). With ‘Blast From the Past’ Wilson continues (or re-establishes) this trend. There is the odd subplot that isn’t well realised, but on the whole ‘Blast From the Past’ is fairly well written. Unlike lesser movies (Fraser's ‘Encino Man’ comes to mind) which play for easy laughs, the comedy is sharp and never forced. At times its just plain bizarre. Unbelievably for this genre, Wilson gives time for the characters to develop, and with its ensemble supporting cast, the movie is the richer for it.
'Blast From the Past' is presented at an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The dual-layered disc is 16x9 enhanced.
Once again Village have provided us with an outstanding transfer, showing their commitment to all their releases, not just those that smashed the box office. The anamorphic transfer provides vivid colours and sharp detail - there are many colourful scenes containing all manner of gaudy 60s furnishings. Flesh tones are natural and, despite the sharpness, I didn’t notice any obvious edge enhancement. There are numerous dark scenes - many of the early scenes in modern day Los Angeles occur at night and in grungy neighbourhoods. At all times the black level is perfect, as is the shadow detail.
Except for one or two instances of slight pixelation in the darker backgrounds early on, and a small amount of aliasing (due to the sharpness), there really is little to fault the transfer.
One problem I did notice was a very clunky layer change occurring around 1:08.
Two sound tracks are provided, Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0, both in English. I listened only to the 5.1 mix.
The soundtrack has a surprising dynamic range compared to your average romantic comedy. The subwoofer gets a good work-out in the early scenes (involving the jet aircraft and subsequent crash), but then is quiet.
At all times the dialogue is clear and nicely integrated. The score switches between 60s crooners and grunge-rock tracks, providing maximum contrast between the various subplots and locations. At all times the sound track is up-beat, and adds a real energy and pace to the film.
The surrounds are well utilised (yet subtly) to provide ambient sound, and where appropriate, directional dialogue. City sound-scapes predominate the later scenes, but all scenes in this film receive a good level of ambience, with impressive attention to detail. All in all the sound stage has been well constructed, with good separation, and is indicative of a large budget production.