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WARNER

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Mick Jackson
Cast:
Kevin Costner, Whitney Houston, Gary Kemp, Bill Cobbs, Ralph Waite, Tomas Arana, Michele Lamar Richards, Mike Starr, Christopher Birt
Writing Credits:
Lawrence Kasdan

Tagline:
Never let her out of your sight. Never let your guard down. Never fall in love.

Synopsis:
The Bodyguard stars Whitney Houston as a pop-music diva and Kevin Costner as the ultra-serious bodyguard assigned to protect her in teh aftermath of several death threats. Initially repelled by each other like water and oil, a passion ignites between them as the danger increases, transforming them as everything around them explodes.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$16.600 million on -unknown- screens.
Domestic Gross
$121.945 million.

MPAA:
Rated R

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 129 min.
Price: $19.96
Release Date: 2/1/2005

Bonus:
• “Memories of The Bodyguard” Documentary
• “I Will Always Love You” Music Video
• Trailer


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RELATED REVIEWS


The Bodyguard: Special Edition (1992)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 10, 2005)

By the end of 1992, Whitney Houston needed a comeback. Although it’d only been a short time since her ascent to superstardom in the mid-Eighties, her 1990 release I’m Your Baby Tonight hadn’t lived up to expectations. On the surface, its four million copies sold sounds great, but it paled in comparison with the 13 million units moved by 1985’s Whitney Houston and the nine million pushed by 1987’s Whitney. In addition, younger singers like Mariah Carey had stolen a lot of Houston’s fanbase and made her look like yesterday’s news.

With the film and soundtrack of The Bodyguard, Houston got her comeback - and then some. The movie - Houston’s first - did quite nicely at the box office, as it pulled in a solid $122 million in the US plus another $289 million overseas. However, the album - which featured five tunes from Houston plus a mix of other songs - turned into an enormous sensation. It eventually became the biggest-selling soundtrack of all-time as it sold an astonishing 17 million copies. That also puts it 10th on the list of the top sellers ever without regard for genre.

(Nitpicky footnote: technically, Bodyguard should be considered the seventh biggest seller. Three titles ahead of it in RIAA listings - The Beatles, The Wall and Billy Joel’s Greatest Hits Volumes 1 and 2 - are there due to their tabulating system. A double-album counts twice, so while The Wall gets credited for 23 million units, it really “only” sold 11.5 million copies. Should these records get counted twice since they cost more? Perhaps, but it creates a sticky situation.)

This means that like Saturday Night Fever, more people remember The Bodyguard as an album than as a movie. Unlike Fever, however, Bodyguard might deserve its diminished presence. It’s a decent flick but not a particularly strong one.

When we start Bodyguard, we meet security expert Frank Farmer (Kevin Costner). A former Secret Service agent, he’s aces at his job but he refuses to take long-term assignments; he avoids attachments and leads a solitary life. Threats to singing/acting star Rachel Marron (Houston) manifest themselves, so her assistant Bill Devaney (Bill Cobbs) pleads Frank to come on as her bodyguard. Initially he declines, as he doesn’t want to get involved with showbiz types, but he accedes to at least chat with her and consider it.

Frank gets to Rachel’s mansion and discerns its pathetic security. Rachel and her entourage don’t want to be bothered with intrusive security, which means they set so many restrictions on Frank that he backs out of the job. However, when he meets her son Fletcher (DeVaughn Nixon), he agrees to take the gig.

When Frank gets involved, he learns of a nutbag who seems to be stalking Rachel. He sends her scary letters and has performed other invasive actions. Frank beefs up security around Rachel’s mansion and tries to whip her staff and family into shape.

Inevitably, all of Frank’s precautions cause tension with Rachel, and many of the others - especially prior security chief Tony (Mike Starr) - feel threatened by his presence. Just as inevitably, romantic sparks eventually develop between Frank and Rachel. The movie follows their personal relationship as well as the attempts to find and defeat Rachel’s stalker.

For a while there, it looked like Houston might generate a viable acting career after Bodyguard, though it did more to re-ignite her musical prominence. Surprisingly, Houston only acted in three more flicks after Bodyguard. She appeared in two theatrical releases - 1995’s Waiting to Exhale and 1996’s The Preacher’s Wife - along with a 1997 TV remake of Cinderella.

Part of the problem probably stemmed from the fact that Houston wasn’t much of an actor. Actually, she handles portions of Bodyguard pretty well. When she essentially plays herself - the big-shot celebrity diva - she comes across as believable. Also, some of Houston’s more cheerful moments come across nicely; for example, the scene in which she first asks out Frank seems loose and engaging.

Unfortunately, she can’t display much range, so her more emotional sequences fall flat. It doesn’t help that she and Costner enjoy very little chemistry. I admire the fact that Bodyguard places white Costner - arguably the biggest male movie star at that time - and black Houston as a couple. Even in 1992, that was moderately daring, and it’s cool that the film makes no reference to race; it acts as though their romance is no big deal. The problem is that we don’t invest ourselves in them as a couple and we don’t really care what’ll happen to them.

On his own, Costner’s performance comes as a pleasant surprise. He’s an actor with little range, but he fares well in parts that require him to do the Gary Cooper thing. That happens with Frank, a stoic tough guy. Costner lacks physically intimidating characteristics, but he makes us accept Frank as a badass, and he makes him an acceptably engaging personality despite his low-key nature.

For the most part, The Bodyguard offers decent entertainment, though it suffers because it never quite decides what it wants to be. It starts as a psychological thriller, as we worry about the stalker. Putting the film from the point of view of the defender was interesting; it wasn’t a radically innovative move, but it created something unusual about the flick.

After a while, however, the movie begins to forget about the stalker subplot, as it prefers to focus on the burgeoning relationship between Rachel and Frank. From there, it flops awkwardly between the two genres and doesn’t really satisfy in either regard.

But it doesn’t need to be a flawless flick. The Bodyguard is standard-issue popcorn entertainment, and it works overtime to satisfy both female and male audiences. It succeeds to a degree; neither side of that divide seems likely to adore the flick, but there’s enough to keep both interested.


The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus C

The Bodyguard appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. For its first-ever widescreen DVD release, The Bodyguard received a solid transfer.

One strength came from sharpness. At no time did I discern any concerns with softness. The movie consistently presented a tight and detailed picture. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I noticed only a sliver of edge enhancement. Though some source flaws cropped up, they weren’t heavy. Occasionally I saw a bit of grit here and a speckle there, but otherwise the movie stayed clean.

The palette of The Bodyguard stayed on the subdued side of natural. This meant it rarely lit up the screen with vibrant tones, but it also made sure that the colors looked clear and acceptably defined. Blacks also came across as firm and dense, while most low-light shots demonstrated good definition. A couple of those - most notably the post-coital scene between Rachel and Frank - was a little opaque, but it was acceptable, and the rest of the darker scenes looked fine. I flip-flopped between giving the picture a “B” or a “B+”. Ultimately I thought enough of the movie presented terrific visuals to merit the higher mark.

When I examined the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of The Bodyguard, a similar debate occurred. I couldn’t decide if it deserved a “B” or a “B-“ but I went with the higher grade largely due to the quality of the score. Those elements sounded dynamic and rich throughout the movie. Unfortunately, Houston’s songs were more erratic, and that was one reason I almost gave the mix a “B-“. “Queen of the Night” sounded robust and vivid, but other songs were lackluster. The movie-closing “I Will Always Love You” was strangely devoid of low-end response, and some of the other tunes followed suit. We don’t hear enough of these to ruin the track, but the bland presentation of the songs meant the audio sometimes lacked pizzazz.

Otherwise, sound quality worked fine. Lines always appeared natural and concise, as I noticed no edginess or issues with intelligibility. Effects didn’t play a strong role in the movie, but they came across as accurate and clean. The occasional explosion or gun shot managed to kick the audio to life nicely.

As for the soundfield, it focused on the front and only sporadically opened up matters. The crowd scenes as well as those with aircraft were the main exceptions, as they used the rear speakers to good effect. The rest of the flick remained oriented toward the front, where I heard somewhat awkward localization. A fair amount of ambient material emanated from the sides, but it didn’t blend terribly well, and the elements tended to sound “speaker-specific” too much of the time. Given the age of the mix, I thought it was positive enough for a “B”, but don’t expect revelations from it.

Although this new release of The Bodyguard comes with the imprimatur of “Special Edition”, it doesn’t include many extras. Of primary interest is a new documentary called Memories of The Bodyguard. In this 26-minute and 40-second piece, we get the standard combination of movie clips, behind the scenes footage, and interviews. We hear from writer/producer Lawrence Kasdan, director Mick Jackson, producer Jim Wilson, soundtrack producer David Foster, and actors Whitney Houston (circa 1992) and Kevin Costner. They discuss the story’s 17-year path to the screen and inspirations, reworkings of the script, bringing Jackson and Houston onto the flick, the racial non-issue, aspects of the characters and the interaction among the actors, the songs, shooting challenges at the Oscars scene, the movie’s finale, and some valedictory thoughts.

”Memories” doesn’t substitute for an audio commentary or a lengthier documentary, but it covers some basics well. One intriguing element stems from Costner’s heavy involvement; he goes over a lot of the unlikely aspects he influenced, like insisting that “I Will Always Love You” start a capella. Costner also criticizes some parts of the flick and relates what he would have done differently. The program remains too short to completely sum up the production, and the absence of new comments from Houston is a disappointment. Nonetheless, it tosses out plenty of intriguing facts and moves briskly.

Only two other elements appear. In addition to the film’s theatrical trailer, we get the music video for Houston’s “I Will Always Love You”. Somehow this bland piece helped make the song and album enormous hits. The video mixes movie shots with images of Houston onstage alone as she lip-synchs; she does pretend to react to the film snippets we see. I’ve seen worse, but it’s still a boring clip.

”I’ve seen worse” could also describe The Bodyguard. It suffers from a flimsy story and a lack of focus, but it manages to offer just enough intrigue and excitement to make it moderately entertaining on a consistent basis. The DVD presents very good picture along with erratic but generally positive audio and a disappointingly weak set of supplements. Fans will want to pick up this new edition of The Bodyguard, as it likely represents the best-ever presentation of the movie, but its absence of significant extras make it less exciting than I’d like.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.64 Stars Number of Votes: 25
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