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Weird Science (Arrow Video) UHD Review

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    Ian Jane
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  • Weird Science (Arrow Video) UHD Review

    Click image for larger version  Name:	91WWBw5Zm3L._SL1500_.jpg Views:	1 Size:	41.5 KB ID:	417305

    Released by: Arrow Video
    Released on: August 22nd, 2023.
    Director: John Hughes
    Cast: Anthony Michael Hall, Ilan Mitchell-Smith, Kelly LeBrock
    Year: 1985
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    Weird Science – Movie Review:

    Directed by John Hughes and released by Universal Studios in 1985, Weird Science tells the tale of two teenaged boys, Gary (Anthony Michael Hall) and Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith), who just don't seem to have any luck with the ladies. It's Friday night and the phone isn't exactly ringing off the hook, so, at Wyatt's place, they decide to use his supercomputer to create a dream girl of sorts. They feed the computer all manner of information and lots of pictures too, curious to see what it'll come back with for them, but it doesn't work… until Wyatt manages to hack into a powerful government computer and use its resources, at which point a freak electrical storm breaks out. They try to unplug before it all hits the fan, but nope! Shortly after, a beautiful woman that Wyatt names Lisa (Kelly LeBrock), comes out of the bathroom, and we're off.

    Quite giddy about the success of their experiment, the guys have no idea what's in store when Lisa starts using her abilities to produce cars, fake ID's, hip new threads and everything they could ever need to up their cool factor to the nth degree. After hitting up a swanky blues club they wind up back at Wyatt's place where his meathead brother, Chet (a scene-stealing Bill Paxton), wants to know what's going on. They pay him off, he goes away, and it looks like Wyatt's about to score, until it doesn't. The next day, our heroes get into some hot water with legitimate cool guys Ian (Robert Downey, Jr.) and Max (Robert Rusler), however, once they're seen with Lisa, things calm down and, low and behold, the two previously nerdy outcasts are on their way to becoming part of the in-crowd. After Lisa arranges a party, whether the guys want her to or not, things start to quickly spiral out of control and when Gary and Wyatt wind up hooking up with Ian and Max's girlfriends, Deb (Susanne Snyder) and Hilly (Judie Aronson), they look to be about to wind up in a whole lot of trouble, all thanks to Lisa.

    A ridiculous and ridiculously funny time capsule of mid-eighties goofiness, Weird Science, very loosely based on a story from the E.C. comic series of the same name, still manages to entertain with ease. John Hughes, who also wrote the script (reportedly in only two days!), paces the film quite well and, like the best of his work, keeps the gags coming quickly. At the same time, and again like the best of Hughes' work, the movie gives us likeable characters and, yes, it's even got a bit of heart. The jokes, even when dealing with sex, never get too dirty and while it's clear that Gary and Wyatt are, to be blunt, pretty horny guys you can't help but like them.

    Anthony Michael Hall) and Ilan Mitchell-Smith are very good in the lead roles. Their characters are likeable dorks and the two young men play their respective parts quite well. They have good chemistry together and so too do they have good chemistry with Kelly LeBrock, who is a complete knockout as Lisa. Throw in some great supporting work from Bill Paxton, perfectly cast here as meathead Chet, Downey and Rusler as the cool guys and Snyder and Aronson as their equally cool girls and you wind up with a dream team of eighties actors all delivering very fine work.

    Production values are solid. The movie makes great use of music (featuring contributions from Wall Of Voodoo, OMD, Ratt, Van Halen and even Killing Joke) and the main theme song courtesy of Oingo Boingo is catchy as catchy can be. The effects work is definitely of its time but these scenes are effective and charming in their way.

    Note that this UHD contains three versions of the movie: the original theatrical cut (1:34:00), the extended version (1:36:38), both in 2160p, and the edited for TV version (1:34:06, presented in 1080p and in 1.33.1 fullframe). The TV version is interesting because it isn't just a censored cut, it also includes some minor bits not found in the theatrical or extended cut.

    Weird Science – UHD Review:

    Weird Science arrives on UHD from Arrow Video in an HVEC encoded 2160p transfer taken from "new restoration by Arrow Films from a 4K scan of the original negative" and framed at 1.85.1 widescreen with HDR10 enhancement. Detail is stronger than it was on the past Blu-ray release but the real improvement comes in the color reproduction. You’ll notice a lot more in that department in some of the garish fashion choices on display in the movie, although some of the optical effects used in the movie stand out as effects work more now, due to the higher resolution on the disc – but hey, it’s an eighties movie looking like an eighties movie and there’s really nothing wrong with that. There’s some pretty strong depth and texture evident throughout and strong, deep black levels as well. The image shows no real issues with print damage at all but retains the natural film grain you’d hope it would.

    English language audio tracks are provided in DTS-HD 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo options for the theatrical cut and DTS-HD 2.0 for the extended cut, with removable subtitles available in English only. No problems here, the audio is fine. There's a fair amount of depth here and the 5.1 thing does a pretty decent job of spreading around the effects work and the score. Dialogue stays clean, clear and concise and there are no problems with any hiss, distortion of sibilance.

    There's some interesting extras content included here, all of which has been carried over from Arrow Video’s 2019 Blu-ray release. If you poke around in the edited for TV version screen you'll find a piece that spends eighteen-minutes showing, via split screen, what was edited/changed in the sanitized TV cut compared to the theatrical cut. You can also view the scenes that were in the extended cut but left out of the theatrical cut on their own, there's just under three-minutes of material here.

    From there, dig into the featurettes starting with Casting Weird Science wherein the casting director spends six-minutes discussing how and why the actors and actresses who wound up in their respective roles earned their parts. Dino the Greek With John Kapelos is a seven-minute segment with the actor who speaks about landing the part, his thoughts on the film and how he got along with some of his co-stars. Chet Happens With Craig Reardon is a more substantial twenty-minute piece with the makeup effects artist who speaks about how he got into the business, how he wound up working on this picture, collaborating with the cast and crew and more. Fantasy and Microchips With Chris Lebenzon is an eleven-minute segment where the film's editor talks about how he got the job, what it was like working on the picture and how he got along with director John Hughes. Ira Newborn Makes The Score gets the film's composer in front of the camera for fourteen-minutes of talk about landing the job, his background and his work on Weird Science specifically. The seventeen-minute It's Alive! Resurrecting Weird Science, which first appeared on the original Universal Blu-ray release, is also included here, and it features input from Anthony Michael Hall, John Kapelos and costume designer Marilyn Vance.

    Rounding out the extras are two theatrical trailers, a minute of TV spots, three still galleries (the shooting script, production stills, video and poster art), menus and chapter selection. The first pressing of this release also includes a color insert booklet that, along with credits for the feature and the Blu-ray release, also includes two essays: Electric Venus; or, How I Learned To Stop Caring And Love Weird Science by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas and Pictures from A Magazine: Reflecting On E.C. Comics' Influence On Weird Science by Amanda Reyes.

    The Weird Science TV pilot that was included on the older Universal Blu-ray has not been ported over to this Arrow reissue.

    Disclaimer - as only a test disc has been sent for review, we can’t comment on any fancy packaging or inserts, or confirm that this disc will 100% represent finished retail product, but will update this review if finished product is made available.

    Weird Science - The Final Word:

    Arrow has done a nice job with this release, even if they haven’t included any new extra features, improving on their already very nice looking Blu-ray edition from 2020. As to Weird Science itself? It remains a bit of a classic in its own goofy way, a really entertaining mix of comedy and sci-fi with a fun cast and some truly memorable set pieces.

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