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Tropic Thunder (Blu-ray)
Member Name: T4imbo3107
Tropic Thunder (Blu-ray)
Disadvantages: Swearing by the van load.
I'm not a big Ben Stiller fan and even though I have enjoyed the films he has been in such as Dodgeball, it seems that for every good film he has done there are just as many bad ones. Its not that I dislike the man at all, but what he did to Starsky and Hutch is unforgiveable!! So watching him in Tropic Thunder has really bought home a few truths about the actor.
Tropic Thunder is a film within a film, it's also a comedy on a satirical scale that allows a large cast to be involved, and it has to be said that the cast here are well known names that in general are easily recognised. The story begins with the cast being assembled on location to begin filming. A Vietnam veteran has written a book called Tropic Thunder and this is being turned into a movie, the director is under immense pressure from the studio to get the production moving, so he has taken the gamble to film in guerrilla style with cameras set up along the path the actors take, the actors being in character all the time. Seeing as the location for this is the dense jungle of Vietnam to give the film the reality it requires, a sudden accident with the director stepping on a landmine means the actors are on their own in what can only be described as the badlands!
Ben Stiller plays the lead character, Tugg Speedman. Stiller has buffed up for the role to immense proportions like Stallone did for Rambo, and with a totally buff body. At the beginning of the film you are introduced to each of the main characters by watching them appear in trailers for their respective films, in the case of Speedman he appears in false trailers for Scorcher action movies where he saves the world. Stiller also wrote the film and you can see that he has deliberately phased himself away from having the nest lines, this happens to the extent that his co-stars such as Robert Downey Jr and also Jack Black take the prize for screen presence and literally rob Stiller of having any input in the second half of the film.
Robert Downey Jr plays Australian Kirk Lazarus. Strangely based on Russell Crowe the character of Lazarus has substantial amount of make up applied to keep him character throughout the film. The only trouble is that Lazarus has turned himself into the complete opposite colour skin, hair and speech and has absorbed himself into the black character of Sergeant Lincoln Osiris. This is probably one of the controversial characters in the film and Downey Jr pulls this off with a great gusto and shows how he can actually act in the film; however his dialect is more Airplane jive yet adds a depth to what we see.
Jack Black plays troubled actor Jeff Portnoy. Portnoy is a character that has a drugs history and to be honest is the one person in the film that I didn't like as I couldn't understand what is was with him and who the character is actually based on given the fact that he seems to be a washed out comic whose only gaga comes from fart jokes, although has trailer did remind me of Eddie Murphy.
Finally the team is rounded off by Brandon T Jackson playing rapper Alpa Chino. Okay it's a play on words of the well known actor; however this is more LL Cool J, than anything else. Jackson has that chemistry with Black on screen and the two are partnered together in various situations. Jackson does well and holds his ground amongst the bigger stars and yet he is simply bought along for the ride and doesn't have that much to do to the last third of the film apart from being disgusted with the way that Lazarus is taking, in fact there is quite a discussion about this in the film that Chino starts as he tell Lazarus that he isn't talking right for black man that he is pretending to be which kicks things off!
Surprisingly Tom Cruise is in this film as Les Grossman, the studio executive that is an ignorant and arrogant person. With Cruise almost unrecognizable in the role with padding and latex as well as the character being bald the premise that this is Cruise doesn't hold weight with me at all and the character although funny in parts comes across as quite scary when I close up. Grossman is mainly seen swearing and shouting to get his own way, and throughout you see just how low he can go, the end credits are taken up with Grossman dancing to the end score.
With co stars such as Nick Nolte and additional cameos from Tobey McGuire as a Monk and Steve Coogan as the unfortunate inexperienced director of the film and the whole film is given a far more satirical feel than comedic in nature. The three main leads only really come into their own once they are in the jungle and been abandoned, only they don't know that they are on their own at all and while they are still in character the circumstances change considerably and situations take place that see them in meet what they think are extras.
Obviously with the film starting on a high and setting the audience expectations with the false trailers, the sheer energy of the film cannot be kept for the entire 107 minutes that the film lasts and Stiller has cleverly ensured that the pace settles down where it should and picks up allowing the audience to keep track. Stiller was also the director of the actual film and I liked the way he has directed the film given the broad scope of the story and the number of actors he has cast in the film itself. I think he called in a lot favors with people as some seem to be from Saturday Night Live and the film has that fell to it. It was interesting to read that he had structured the film on his experiences working in the movies and yet this is transferred across in somewhat of a smokescreen. What I mean by that is the characters can be recognized by how they speak and what they do to pinpoint a specific person; however the underlying currents then give a different picture. For example did he actually want Russell Crowe in the part? It's this kind of thinking that makes you think quite deep as to what Stiller is actually trying to achieve.
Although I enjoyed the film and I think it will be remembered as the film that re-launched Robert Downey Jr's career as an actor. It is a journey of discovery as almost all the characters at some point in the film are outside their respective comfort zones and aren't quite sure what to do in each situation they come across and so you have a multiple layered film as an actor is playing an actor playing a character. Yes it is confusing and throughout the film the scenes with the production crew who are believe the actors are dead makes a good sub-plot and balances out the story nicely.
In a film like this there isn't any reason why action sequences shouldn't be included and here they are very good in the way they are executed and shown and reminded me more of a war film such as Platoon or Apocalypse Now in the way the explosions took place and the manner in which they are conceived. Okay the first one being a total mistake with timing that causes a whole host of calamities with the production crew getting a right royal roasting, yet it's the main leads that come across at the end and although the ending is probably too sugary in nature for the film, it does leave it open for a sequel to be made.
Extras wise, this is Blu-ray. The transfer is good as you would expect and the greenery of the jungle is complete and looks fantastic as the different shades are depicted with sound quality and also very sharp. I could write a whole page about the extras as well as Downey Jr as Lazurus is still in character as Osiris and does a commentary as him, which is not only original to hear but also hilarious as you can hear the other cast members literally creasing up as Downey speaks. Its worth getting for this original extra on its own!! Add a plethora of documentaries and featurettes detailing the making of the film and the work done to Tom Cruise for him to become the character he plays then you have a full on insight into film making... but the commentary is the best ever extra for a Blu-ray that I have seen in a long while.
Overall the expectations are set in the first five minutes which open the story well for the rest of the film and I think this is probably the better part of the film. Yes there are nods to other war films and these are obvious when watching this, but the film is a very deep and can easily be counted as a black comedy by some given the depths that Stiller's character is driven. The film is meant to satire the cinematic world and yet it manages simply to make a lot of fun off it and you see the characters get defined as complete idiots regardless of who they are and the film covers everyone from the agents to the studio executives in its reach. Stiller has delivered a funny film that different people will see and react to on different levels, certainly on Blu-ray this is a mighty fine looking film given the quality and the soundtrack that captures the mood of the film completely and if projected correctly raises the film to another level. It has its faults, and although these can be looked over, the film delivers to entertain and make people laugh.
Summary: Satire extreme!
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