"Rain Man" Blu-ray Review
March 14, 2011 by Zach Demeter
Though the technology, wardrobe, and cars may be dated when it comes to eighties films, it’s often the decade that produced a lot of the iconic and most often quoted films even to this day. The list ranges from the Star Wars sequels to Indiana Jones, the Back to the Future series, Karate Kid, Dirty Dancing…the list goes on and on exponentially. But amidst all the cult classics and award winners you also have a few genuinely engaging and emotional films that to this day remain on the top of critics lists. And often on that list is Rain Man, the 1988 four time Oscar winner that brought together Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman in two of their most iconic roles and still a go-to film for many when it comes to classic dramatic films.
Following the death of their father, Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise, Valkyrie) discovers he has an autistic brother named Raymond (Dustin Hoffman, Tootsie) and now the two are on the cross-country trip of their lives. Nicknamed RAIN MAN, Raymond pushes hot-headed Charlie to the limits of his patience and then pulls him completely out of his self-centered world. But what began as an unsentimental journey for the Babbitt brothers becomes much more than the distance between two places; it's a connection between two vastly different people and a poignant, profound and powerful film. Among its eight Academy Award nominations, RAIN MAN won Best Picture, Best Actor (Hoffman), Best Director (Barry Levinson, Wag the Dog), and Best Original Screenplay.
Yet another film I’d never seen until now (I was one when it came out and as much as I wanted to see Tom Cruise films when I was younger my parents insisted that my ten year old self didn’t want to watch Rain Man), but unlike other films that were so praised with accolades…there really isn’t anything about this film that felt like others had copied it endlessly or picked it apart to the point of exhaustion. Of course references to the film are bountiful among films and TV even today, but they’re really kept only at that level.
Perhaps it’s because the performances are so strong or because the story is so exceptionally written, but there’s really no reason to make a film like Rain Man again. I’m sure down the line we’ll get a remake for some reason, but the journey the two men take in this film is really quite extraordinary; while you kind of get the gist of it from the start that Cruise’s character is a jerky car salesman and you surmise he’s going to end up a nicer guy by the end of the film, you still are happy when that very conclusion comes. It’s one of those stories that is so nicely played out that it doesn’t matter if you see where the story is going a mile away—the ride is what’s important and the performances are really what keep you so entranced when it comes to this film.
Having said all of that…what else can be really said about this film? It really is a vehicle for Cruise and Hoffman to shine from as there is really no one else on the screen to take it away from them; aside from the girl from Hot Shots (which is a funny connection considering that film was a parody of Top Gun) and Bonnie Hunt there wasn’t a single other person in this film I really recognized from anything. Which was nice as it didn’t feel like one of those old films you watch and think “holy crap isn’t that so and so?” While I’m sure it sucks for most everyone’s careers that they aren’t able to be recognized as such now, it makes for a very grounded film still and as a result an engaging experience.
Overall a Must See film, but I’m willing to bet the everyone already knew that.
Fox releases Rain Man in a pretty nice release. The disc itself arrives in a standard Elite Blu-ray case with decent disc art on the Blu-ray…and, well some inserts and that’s it. No DVD copy or anything this time around. Of course there’s an easily navigable menu system, but other than that there’s really nothing new here to talk about, as the extras are all ported over from the seven year old special edition DVD.
The AVC encoded film makes the various landscapes from the open road life look as thrilling as it possibly can, although the film does show its age at times. Thankfully the majority of this transfer looks impeccable; with a nice grain haze that is so common amongst 80s and 90s films and plenty of nicely detailed indoor and outdoor sequences. Audio is a DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix but considering it’s a film about the open road you’d be right in assuming there were some nice directional pans and whatnot. Aside from the few moments of excessive liveliness, it’s a very straightforward mix, mostly in the front channels. Overall though it’s a very solid A/V presentation regardless and definitely does what it can with the material.
• Audio Commentary by Director Barry Levinson
• Audio Commentary by Writer Barry Morrow
• Audio Commentary by Writer Ronald Bass
• “The Journey of Rain Man” – A Retrospective Documentary
• “Lifting the Fog: A Look at the Mysteries of Autism”
• Deleted Scenes
• Original Theatrical Trailer
Overall it’s a repeat of the extras but the new A/V presentation is quite nice looking. Highly Recommended if you don’t already own the 2004 SE DVD release; don’t get me wrong the transfer looks great but this isn’t the type of movie you need on Blu-ray.
Rain Man is now available on Blu-ray.