Say what you will about "Dick Tracy," but this Blu-ray release reveals it to be pretty much one of a kind: a beautifully stupid movie. It also proves a theory I've held for a long time: makeup artists must hate high-definition. You see, Warren Beatty's third film as writer/director - which sees him as the titular police officer, battling up against a city's-worth of mafia supervillians - is known primarily for its fidelity to its comic-strip origins, and as such provides for some major visual flourishes. Bad guys, like Al Pacino's Big Boy Caprice, have oversized sneering faces made up of rubber prosthetics. And finally, with this HD re-release, you can see the stretches and the breaks in the make-up!
But I jest. The high resolution may reveal the artifice in the character design, but it also optimizes Vittorio Storraro's (cinematographer, "Apocalypse Now") stunning photography. Gleefully mixing reds, greens, and yellows in each frame - some of these lighting combinations seem downright impossible - it achieves the feeling of being hand-drawn with a minimum of digital effects.
Unfortunately, this latest Blu-ray release features no extras or special features. Some context would be appreciated; Beatty makes some puzzling decisions with this effort. Why is James Caan here for only one scene? Why is Madonna, saddled with a number of original songs that stretch out the runtime, seemingly here for no other reason than to swoon for Beatty? Why is this insanely slight gangster yarn stretched out to feature so many underdeveloped characters?
It's hardly a masterpiece, but its pleasures remain clear: for kids, this is an exciting, bullets-blazing introduction to the gangster genre, and for adults, it's a meticulously designed throwback. A clear forerunner to future audacious animation adaptations like "Speed Racer" and "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World," "Dick Tracy" hardly feels like live-action - it feels like a living, breathing comic strip.
Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack