Calling Dick Tracy! Calling Dick Tracy!
This is the colorful tale of the cunning detective Dick Tracy (Warren Beatty, who also directs) and his struggles to bring down gangster boss Big Boy Caprice (Al Pacino), while taking care of the orphaned The Kid (Charlie Korsmo), trying to be there for his faithful girlfriend Tess Trueheart (Glenne Headly), and avoiding the sexy nightclub singer Breathless Mahoney (Madonna). Things take a turn for the worse, when a shadowy figure appears with an offer to take care of Tracy… for good.
Dick Tracy is one of a few unique films that have managed to create a stunning singular vision, so powerful everything else around it seems to go dark (Bram Stoker’s Dracula and The Matrix would be two other examples).
Warren Beatty brings the classic hero to life, in a surprisingly dynamic translation of the Chester Gould comic strip. Nothing in Beatty’s back-catalogue would suggest he was the man for the job, but by using the classic matte painting techniques to create most of his comic strip city, and by keeping everything in bright, basic colors, Beatty nonetheless creates a living breathing comic book world, with a sense of realism a film like Sin City can only dream about. Vittorio Storaro’s cinematography, Richard Sylbert’s production design, and the amazing matte paintings, take my breath away every time I watch the film. They’ve lost none of their magic.
Enter Warren Beatty himself – still the proverbial alpha male – as the titular detective, add an energetic, completely insane performance by Al Pacino, a super-sexy Madonna (yes, she was sexy once), and cameos from every actor Beatty ever shared a cocktail with. It’s almost enough to distract from the fact that the story is fairly traditional, and a bit cumbersome. When you need no less than three montages in the first hour, to tell your story, you’re doing something wrong. The attempt to capture Gould’s characters in prosthetic makeup is also a bit distracting, even if the makeup itself is quite solid.
Audio & Video:
The stunning visuals would be a tough task for any format, but this new Blu-ray fares pretty well. Sometimes the images lack a bit of punch, a bit of contrast, but mostly the visuals are absolutely stunning. A soft layer of grain covers the film, giving it a pleasing film appearance. The painted images hold up surprisingly well in high-def, all things considered, they rarely feel flat, and the occasional obvious brush stroke just adds to the comic book feel.
The soundtrack is adequately bombastic. Good clear dialogue, and then suddenly the room explodes with sound, when another Tommy gun tear up the street or whenever the bombastic score yet again announce the arrival of Dick Tracy.
This region free disc contains a few previews, and comes with an additional disc containing a digital copy. That’s it.
Dick Tracy is a magnificent sight to behold, and this Blu-ray gives it a decent, if not perfect presentation. The real crime here is the lack of any special features. Disney, get your act together, don’t make us take you downtown and sweat it out under the lights.
Extra Features: F