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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Alex Cox
Cast:
Harry Dean Stanton, Emilio Estevez, Tracey Walter, Olivia Barash, Sy Richardson, Susan Barnes, Fox Harris, Tom Finnegan
Writing Credits:
Alex Cox

Tagline:
... It's 4 A.M., do you know where your car is?

Synopsis:
The explosive, action-paced cult classic returns in this all-new special edition. Emilio Estevez and Harry Dean Stanton star as 'repo men' who get caught up in a series of bizarre adventures involving G-men, a nuclear scientist, UFO cultists and revolutionaries. Put your seat belt on and enjoy the wild ride in this groundbreaking, punk-rock, sci-fi black comedy with all-new bonus materials!

Box Office:
Budget
$1.5 million.
Opening Weekend
$95.300 thousand on 39 screens.
Domestic Gross
$179.891 thousand.

MPAA:
Rated R

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

Runtime: 92 min.
Price: $19.98
Release Date: 1/24/2006

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Alex Cox, Executive Producer Michael Nesmith, Casting Director Victoria Thomas, and Actors Sy Richardson, Zander Schloss, and Del Zamora
• “Up Close with Harry Dean Stanton” Featurette
• “Repossessed” Featurette
• “The Missing Scenes” Featurette
• Theatrical Trailer
• Previews


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Repo Man: Collector's Edition (1984)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 2, 2006)

Probably my first experience with the concept of "repo men" came from an early episode of The Flintstones. In "No Help Wanted" - the sixth show broadcast - Barney gets fired from his job because of Fred's stupidity. Feeling guilty, Fred finds Barney work as a furniture repossessor. First target? Fred's TV.

Of course, Fred doesn't react happily to Barney's attempts to take away his beloved set, and hijinks ensue. It’s a great episode and it may have been the inspiration for Repo Man, an influential cult classic from 1984.

Okay, that’s probably not the case, but I suppose it's possible. Repo bears little similarity to "No Help Wanted" other than the concept of the repossessor and also the animosity and violence aimed toward that person. I always thought repo men got a bad rap. People get to take possessions with them - cars, TVs, whatever - based on good faith; the sellers trust the buyers to repay their debts. When that doesn't happen, clearly the original owners of the products are entitled to take them back, but the deadbeats don't see it that way. When someone tries to reclaim what doesn't belong to the debtors, the latter often react negatively.

It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it, and Repo Man attempts to depict the seedy and sordid world of these workers. Well, sort of – it certainly won't be mistaken for a documentary about these folks. Instead, it combines a picture of their environment with an odd government conspiracy story about a Chevy Malibu with some aliens in the trunk. Combine the grittiness of the repo men, the shady fantasy of the alien tale, some LA punk rock tunes and characters, shake well and Repo is the result.

Is it a successful attempt? Yeah, pretty much. Repo has some trouble living up to its reputation, as it's become quite the cult classic. I wonder how popular it would have been without the punk soundtrack. While the movie works well anyway, I think the music added a certain street credibility to the product that it otherwise might have lacked.

Not that anyone would have mistaken Repo for standard studio product in any case. I suppose if it stuck to either the repo man side of the tale or just concentrated on the aliens, it could have been much more ordinary, but the combination of the two almost inevitably makes it quirky and unusual. The oddness seems somewhat forced at times, but for the most part, it comes naturally. Little about the weird parts of the film feel artificial or gratuitous. For example, the constant appearances of generic products could have become annoyingly cute, but they remain far enough in the background to keep from becoming excessive.

Most of Repo maintains that balance, and it makes for a witty and entertaining ride. It's a rough film that lacks much polish, but that's the source of some of its charm. Something about it seems so crude and raw that material which might otherwise have flopped comes across as interesting. It can be a hit or miss affair, but for the most part, it's fun and clever.

Part of me felt as though it would have been a better film without the alien subplot. There's enough depth to the concept of the day-to-day repo life that I thought the supernatural element should have been omitted. However, I don't feel strongly in that regard, as there's enough interesting stuff related to the aliens to make those segments worthwhile. Besides, if Repo didn't exist, there may never have been Men In Black! (I also think that The Mask borrowed at least one aspect of Repo: the former is set in "Edge City", a place mentioned in Repo.)

Repo Man isn't a great film, but it's fun and clever and it's held up surprisingly well over the last two decades. Portions of it appear dated, but it transcends those limitations well enough to make it worth a screening.


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

Repo Man 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. A surprisingly solid transfer, Repo showed few concerns.

Sharpness was quite positive. A little softness occasionally crept into some wider shots, but those problems were minor. The majority of the movie featured good definition and delineation. I noticed no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, and only a smidgen of edge enhancement was visible. As for print flaws, I noticed none; the movie came without any specks, marks or other defects.

Colors were fairly accurate and well-defined. They never seemed very bold or bright but they fit the film's scheme and were acceptably realistic without any signs of noise or bleeding, even during a scene in which red lighting was used. Black levels were solid and dark, and shadow detail looked quite good. I expected those segments to appear hazy but they seemed nicely defined and clear. Ultimately, Repo Man looked quite strong.

The same sentiments applied to the film's Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. This remix provided a surprisingly broad soundfield. Granted, much of the audio still resided in the center channel, but other sounds spread nicely to the sides and even the surrounds. Effects popped up frequently from the peripheral speakers and added a nice ambience to the mix. Music also blasted in solid stereo, and we even heard some occasional dialogue from the sides. The surrounds didn't overwhelm but they seemed pretty active and contributed an engrossing aura.

Quality was somewhat erratic but generally good. Dialogue showed some of the most dated audio. Although much of the speech sounded clear and natural, some lines came across as flat and edgy. The same inconsistency applied to effects, which often boasted some powerful components but which also could seem thin and dull. This occurred even for similar sounds; for example, some gunshots were bright and crisp, but others sounded bland and muffled.

Finally, most of the movie's music appeared pretty clear and dynamic as well, but some songs were oddly flat. I'd attribute a lot of that to the variety of recordings heard in the film; with so many different sources, it's inevitable that inconsistency would occur. In any case, the track generally sounded very good for its origins and age, especially since it added some solid bass at times.

How did the picture and sound of this 2006 DVD compare to the 2000 release? I thought the two discs featured virtually identical soundtracks, but the new one provided superior visuals. The old version was a little dirtier and messier.

One caveat: I wasn’t able to dig up a copy of the old DVD, so I had to make my comparison with my notes about the prior release. I wanted to re-review the old one but simply couldn’t locate a copy. Based on what I thought about the prior version, the new one appears to be a definite improvement in terms of visuals, but I can’t make that statement based on direct side-by-side comparisons.

The new DVD mixes supplements from the prior version and some new elements. One repeated piece comes from the audio commentary with director/writer Alex Cox, executive producer Michael Nesmith, casting director Victoria Thomas, and actors Sy Richardson, Zander Schloss, and Del Zamora. All of them sit together for this running, screen-specific discussion. Overall, this is a fairly interesting and enjoyable track that provides some decent information about the film. Cox probably dominates the proceedings, but all participants get in their two cents and the track seems fairly balanced. The commentary appears somewhat scattered at times and it lacks much focus, which is usually the case with multiple-participant tracks; the extra contributors may add variety, but the piece becomes less cohesive as a whole.

The Repo Man commentary delves into a fair amount of nostalgic comments, and the participants also spend a lot of time simply enjoying the movie; many probably have not seen it in years and they clearly had a good time as they watched it. Some people find that kind of atmosphere enjoyable and contagious, but I don't like tracks where "that's a great scene!" and laughter overwhelm the proceedings; when I screen commentaries, I want to learn information about the film and not just listen to strangers giggle. However, this track offers enough of interest to overcome those flaws for the most part, and it made for a generally enjoyable listen.

Three featurettes follow. First we get Up Close with Harry Dean Stanton. This 21-minute and 19-second piece presents an interview with Stanton that mostly talks about Stanton’s philosophical thoughts. He babbles about these ideas and only occasionally touches on movies. At one point we even have to suffer through a rendition of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”. Argh – what a waste of time.

In the 25-minute and 16-second Repossessed, we hear from Cox and producers Peter McCarthy and Jonathan Wacks. They sit around a kitchen table and chat about the efforts to get the film made, casting and performances, research and adapting those notes into the script, the movie’s political elements and tone, photography and shooting in LA, various scenes and alternate endings, and thoughts about attempts at a sequel.

We also get comments from Zamora, Richardson and actor Dick Rude, but the three guys at the table heavily dominate. The program lacks coherence as it bops from one topic to another. Nonetheless, it includes some good insights. At least it comes as a relief after the Stanton piece.

Finally, The Missing Scenes runs 25 minutes and three seconds. Cox chats with Nesmith, neutron bomb inventor Sam Cohen, and movie character J. Frank Parnell as they watch a mix of deleted scenes in Cox’s “quest to find the meaning of Repo Man”. That’s an odd framework for a collection of cut sequences, and not one that adds much to the proceedings. Actually, I like Cox’s interactions with Cohen, but a more straightforward presentation of the clips would work better.

In addition to the movie’s trailer, the DVD comes with some ads. We find promos for Brick, Battlestar Galactica, The Big Lebowski and a few Eighties comedy TV series on DVD.

Does this DVD lose anything found on the prior Anchor Bay release? Not really. It drops some talent bios, an ad for a video release of the movie and a THX Optimode program.

Repo Man continues to provide an entertaining and fun experience. It's a rough piece of work but it seems interesting and clever nonetheless. The DVD provides good picture and sound, and a few decent extras. Repo Man at least merits a rental, and already-established fans of the film will want to pick up a copy.

Should the ones who own the prior DVD grab this new one? Probably. It offers stronger visuals and a few fresh extras. It’s not a slam-dunk replacement, but fans will like it.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.7777 Stars Number of Votes: 9
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