Hollywoodland 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. This was a consistently solid transfer.
Sharpness generally appeared positive. Some minor softness affected a few wide shots, but those examples occurred infrequently. For the most part, the image remained distinct and accurate. Jagged edges and moiré effects created no concerns, but I did notice a little light edge enhancement at times. As for print flaws, the movie came with no blemishes. It always appeared clean.
Hollywoodland featured a muted and burnished palette, and the DVD displayed those tones well. The colors never had a chance to excel, but the image replicated them appropriately. Black levels came across as deep and rich, and shadow detail also appeared dense and appropriately opaque. Other than a few examples of minor softness, this was a top-notch presentation.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Hollywoodland stayed pretty low-key. The soundfield showed good stereo imaging for the score and also displayed a subdued sense of environment. The mix provided light atmospheric elements and never went beyond that. As for the surrounds, they emphasized general reinforcement of the music and effects; I didn’t notice anything unique from the rears.
Audio quality was solid. Dialogue appeared natural and lacked edginess or other issues. Effects demonstrated good clarity, though they were so laid-back that they never offered much presence. Even gunshots didn’t do much to come to the forefront. Music was similarly restrained, but the score was smooth and concise. This wasn’t an exciting mix, but it showed decent dimensionality and remained acceptable for the film.
The disc’s extras open with an audio commentary from director Allen Coulter. He provides a running, screen-specific chat. The director goes over themes and subtexts, the cast and working with the actors, period details, perspective and camera choices, musical selections and their use in the flick, and various behind the scenes tidbits.
Coulter offers a cool look at his film. He really lets us in on the picture’s “secrets” and opens up different aspects of the piece. Coulter makes the commentary consistently revealing and informative, as he keeps us interested from start to finish. Despite a little too much of the usual praise for all involved, this is a good little track.
Three Deleted Scenes run a total of five minutes, eight seconds. These include the eulogy from Reeves’ agent Art, some evidence related to Toni/Reeves/Edgar, and a complication for Simo in that regard. The first one isn’t memorable, and the other two connect. However, they wouldn’t add anything to the narrative. Indeed, all three would simply exacerbate the movie’s existing lack of balance, so I’m glad they got the boot.
Three featurettes follow. Re-Creating Old Hollywood lasts six minutes, 54 seconds, as it mixes movie clips, behind the scenes elements, and comments. We hear from Coulter, producer Glenn Williamson, columnist James R. Bacon, makeup department head Linda Dowds, production designer Leslie McDonald, executive producer J. Miles Dale, costume designer Julie Weiss, and actors Adrien Brody, Bob Hoskins, Diane Lane, and Ben Affleck.
The show looks at research, sets and locations, makeup and costumes, and all the elements required to make the movie look like it’s set in the Fifties. It provides a concise and informative take on all these visual issues and proves quite illuminating.
Next we get the seven-minute and 22-second Behind the Headlines. It features Affleck, Coulter, Dale, Lane, Hoskins, Brody, Williamson,
screenwriter Paul Bernbaum, Adventures of Superman actor Jack Larson, actor/historian Jim Beaver and actor Robin Tunney. “Headlines” examines story, character and performance as it delves into the movie’s narrative. We also get notes on research and accuracy. The story notes occasionally make this one feel like a promo, but the insights into the real events allow the show to become reasonably engaging.
Finally, we come to Hollywood Then & Now. It fills seven minutes, 58 seconds with notes from Williamson, Coulter, Beaver, Dale, Bacon, Larson, Bernbaum, Lane, Affleck, Hoskins, film historian/author Rudy Behlmer, and Hollywood historian Alan L. Gansberg. We get notes on the way Hollywood worked in the Forties and Fifties as well as a contrast with the current period and few more notes about the characters. The information ties into the flick well and creates another interesting program.
The DVD opens with ads for Catch a Fire, Hot Fuzz, Man of the Year and HD-DVD. No trailer for Hollywoodland appears on the disc.
Hollywoodland takes a sordid, controversial story and manages to bury it inside an extraneous tale. We get too much related to the life of a fictional character and not enough of the events related to George Reeves. The DVD presents very good visuals, decent audio, and extras highlighted by a positive audio commentary. I like the DVD well enough but don’t think that it supports a terribly interesting movie.