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Frank Darabont
Jim Carrey, Martin Landau, Laurie Holden, Bob Balaban, Gerry Black, Jeffrey DeMunn, Catherine Dent, Hal Holbrook, Ron Rifkin, David Ogden Stiers, James Whitmore
Michael Sloane

Sometimes your life comes into focus one frame at a time.
Box Office:
Budget $72 million.
Opening weekend $7.366 million on 2361 screens.
Domestic gross $27.796 million.
Rated PG for language and mild thematic elements.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
German Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Castillian Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Latin Spanish Dolby Stereo 2.0
Portuguese Dolby Stereo 2.0
Czech Dolby Stereo 2.0
Russian Dolby Digital 5.1
Castillian Spanish
Latin Spanish
Supplements Subtitles:
Castillian Spanish
Latin Spanish

Runtime: 153 min.
Price: $14.97
Release Date: 2/24/2015

• Deleted Scenes
• Movie Within the Movie: Sand Pirates of the Sahara - The Complete Sequence
• Theatrical Trailer


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


The Majestic [Blu-Ray] (2001)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 9, 2015)

Maybe filmmakers shouldn’t try too hard to emulate the work of other directors. Sometimes these homages work fairly well, but usually they come across as pale imitations of the original material, and I don’t know what the new filmmakers have to gain. I mean, if you create a flick in the Hitchcock style and it succeeds, you still come across as just a wannabe, while if your effort flops, you seem like nothing more than a crummy wannabe.

I don’t know what possessed director Frank Darabont to so openly copy the style and themes of Frank Capra with 2001’s The Majestic. This flick marked Darabont’s third directorial effort, and the first two did quite well.

1994’s The Shawshank Redemption broke no box office records, but it found a good-sized audience, and it also nabbed quite a lot of critical praise, including a nod for Best Picture. It also continues to be beloved by audience, as demonstrated by its placement as the number one movie of all-time by IMDB voters.

1999’s The Green Mile didn’t do quite as well with the critics, but it still got a lot of praise as well as another Best Picture nomination and it made a nice piece of change along the way.

Between Darabont’s small but solid track record and the presence of star Jim Carrey in the lead, The Majestic had hit written all over it. The movie also enjoyed some strong buzz before it arrived on screens.

However, none of these factors meant much. The Majestic received mediocre reviews and made a mere $27 million at the box office. It quickly went from supposed Oscar contender to forgotten flop.

Personally, I think the film deserved its quick demise. While not an unpleasant piece of work, The Majestic never comes across as anything more than warmed over Capra-corn without the spark and spirit of the original.

Set in Hollywood circa 1951, we meet aspiring screenwriter Peter Appleton (Carrey). The author of a new B-movie called Sand Pirates of the Sahara, he seems like a talent on the rise, and he enjoys the company of sexy actress Sandra Sinclair (Amanda Detmer).

However, his train soon starts to derail when the Feds discover that he once attended a meeting of a college group with apparent Communist leanings. Peter only went to this gathering to impress a girl, but the powers-that-be don’t care, and his career soon falters. The studio cancels his contract and he faces possible jail time for his “Communist tendencies”.

Peter goes on a drunken bender and decides to take a drive up the Pacific Coast Highway. However, he encounters a storm and skids off a bridge into a river. Peter gets washed away by the stream and eventually becomes knocked unconscious when head meets concrete.

Stan Keller (James Whitmore) finds Peter and takes him to safety. As the two go through the small town of Lawson, folks notice that Peter bears a strong resemblance to Luke Trimble, a local boy who apparently died in World War II. Lawson suffered unusually high losses during the War, and they embrace the apparent return of a favorite son.

The knock to his head erased Peter’s memory, so he believes he may well be Luke. He takes on Luke’s life, which involves interaction with father Harry (Martin Landau) and girlfriend Adele (Laurie Stanton). All seems well, as “Luke’s” return restores life to the depressed little town. Harry decides that he and “Luke” should re-open The majestic, the local movie house that went dormant after the War.

They do this, and Lawson becomes a cheerful place again. “Luke” also gets to know Adele, and romantic sparks strike.

However, darkness sits on the horizon. Nagging questions of Luke/Peter’s identity remain; as time passes, “Luke” starts to regain his memory and tries to figure out who he really is.

In addition, the feds still seek Peter, and they eventually locate him in Lawson. In due time, we’ll discover who Peter/Luke really is, and he’ll also face up to the accusations of his alleged Communist leanings.

Will all this resolve happily? I won’t say, but if you’re not sure, you need to get out of the house more often. Not that I regard films with foregone conclusions as a bad thing; I value the ride itself more than the final outcome. Unfortunately, The Majestic never offers anything that approaches the level of Capra’s better efforts, and it usually seems like a bland and lackluster imitation.

Carrey tries his best to channel Jimmy Stewart, but he fails. Nothing about Carrey’s performance appears overtly bad, but he simply lacks any real heart or humanity. Carrey’s a decent dramatic performer at best; he only receives so much attention because of his comedic success.

The Majestic features a strong cast, but all the performers seem to sleepwalk through their parts. None of them stand out to me, and I feel the chemistry between Carrey and Holden appears wan and flat. As with Carrey, I can’t say that any of the other actors do poorly, but they fail to bring the life and energy that the project needs.

For a self-consciously anti-ironic movie, The Majestic includes a few too many “wink-wink, nudge-nudge” moments for my liking. The scenes in which Peter meets with studio executives feature some recognizable voices, as does a voice-over from one of Luke’s letters to Adele.

Those moments distracted me and seemed unnecessarily cute; I tried to identify the participants, and that pulled me out the story. Also, a joke about J. Edgar Hoover wearing a dress seemed silly to me; it took the movie out of its period and also contrasted with its generally earnest tone. Throw in a cutesy allusion to the club from The Mask and there’s too much silliness on display for a tale of this sort.

Director Darabont also allows the movie to take far too long. The Majestic runs 152 minutes, and that’s easily 45 minutes too much.

The scenes that show the revival of Lawson last forever and they go nowhere. We know where the story will eventually proceed, so Darabont should have expedited matters. The movie starts with some interesting material in regard to Peter and the Communist witch-hunt, but once he lands in Lawson, matters come to a screeching halt, and the movie becomes a serious drag.

Probably the greatest weakness in The Majestic relates to the lack of charm and spark. Sure, Capra’s movies are melodramatic and sentimental, but the director could pull off those attitudes well. You bought into their sappiness and didn’t care.

Darabont lacks the skill to make those elements work. He tries hard to pull heartstrings and tug at emotional tendencies, but none of them connect.

Instead, the film comes across as excessively manipulative and falls flat. I never got caught up in the story or the characters and really didn’t care what would happen to them.

For a sentimental character drama like The Majestic, that lack of passion marks the kiss of death. I applaud Darabont’s attempt to create a “throwback” movie that echoes the attitudes of the Thirties and Forties. Unfortunately, he didn’t make a very interesting or entertaining throwback.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus C

The Majestic appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though not a flawless effort, The Majestic provided a strong visual experience.

Sharpness seemed positive. Some wider shots could be a bit tentative, but those remained in the minority, so this turned into a mostly tight, concise presentation. Jagged edges and moiré effects also caused no concerns, while I detected no signs of edge enhancement. Print flaws seemed absent.

Colors appeared solid. The movie offered a nicely rich and vibrant palette, and the disc replicated these tones with fine fidelity. The hues always came across as vivid and lively, and they showed no signs of noise, bleeding, or other issues.

Black levels were deep and distinct, while shadow detail came across as appropriately heavy but not excessively thick. Across the board, this remained a satisfying image.

The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of The Majestic also worked well, though the modest nature of the project meant it wouldn’t be quite as good as the image. Not surprisingly, the audio favored the forward spectrum. Music showed nice stereo presence, while effects and speech both displayed good localization and integration.

Actually, I felt quite pleased with the use of speech. During the opening scene with the studio executives, their voices emanated from different locations in a very natural manner; I don’t usually hear dialogue that seems so accurately placed.

Surround usage appeared logical but minimal. During a few segments, the rear speakers came to life reasonably well, but they usually provided little more than general reinforcement for the forward channels. The car crash scene used the surrounds most effectively. From the thunderstorm at the start of that piece to the accident itself, the soundfield created a nicely effective sequence.

Audio quality appeared positive. Speech seemed nicely warm and natural, and I heard no concerns related to intelligibility or edginess. With the exception of segments like the car crash I already mentioned, effects made up a minor aspect of the track, but they appeared clear and accurate, with no signs of distortion.

Music fared best, as the score sounded bright and vibrant. The track boasted solid dynamic range, and low-end appeared nicely deep and tight when appropriate. The Majestic lacked the sonic ambition to merit more than a “B”, but I felt the soundtrack complemented the material.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the original DVD from 2002? Audio seemed warmer and fuller, while picture appeared tighter, smoother and better defined. I had no problems with the old DVD, but the Blu-ray made this a more satisfying representation of the film.

The DVD came with minor extras, and the Blu-ray repeats most of them. Seven Deleted Scenes fill a total of nine minutes, 47 seconds. Most of the snippets actually seem fairly good, but they appear redundant; the material they cover shows up elsewhere. Still, they offer some interesting moments, such as Peter’s breakup with Sandra, something that occurs off-screen in the finished film.

Movie Within the Movie shows all of the material created for Sand Pirates of the Sahara, the flick authored by Peter Appleton. Of course, they didn’t shoot the entire Pirates for the movie, so we just see the four-minute, 48-second snippet viewed in the film. It’s a minor curiosity but it adds a nice element to the package.

The disc finishes with the film’s trailer. The Blu-ray drops some cast/crew filmographies as well as a text discussion of the Hollywood blacklist.

I can’t call The Majestic a bad film, for it possesses few serious failings. However, the movie simply lacks much heart or spirit, factors that cause problems for this sort of sentimental genre. It comes across as mediocre and competent but nothing more. The Blu-ray offers very good picture and audio but lacks substantial bonus materials. I’m not wild about The Majestic, but at least the Blu-ray presents it well.

Pursestrings note: you can purchase The Majestic on its own (MSRP $14.97) or as part of a three-movie “Frank Darabont Collection” (MSRP $29.97). The latter also includes Blu-rays for The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile.

To rate this film, visit the 2002 review of THE MAJESTIC

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