Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Blu-Ray Review: The Outsiders

Directed By Francis Ford Coppola
Starring: C Thomas Howell, Ralph Macchio, Matt Dillon, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Diane Lane , Emilio Estevez, Tom Cruise, Leif Garrett

 Teen rivalry in a small Southern town sets the stage for this dramatic interpretation of the novel by S.E. Hinton. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, The Outsiders tells the story of the ongoing conflict between the Greasers and the Socs in rural Oklahoma. C. Thomas Howell stars as Ponyboy, the youngest of three orphaned boys who pal around with the local hoods known as the Greasers. When Ponyboy and his friend (Ralph Macchio) get into a deadly confrontation one night, the two go on the run from the cops, and they grow up quickly and soon realize the insignificance of their petty posturing. Matt Dillon stars as the tough-as-nails leader of their group and Patrick Swayze appears as Ponyboy's oldest brother. A host of other 1980s Brat Pack celebs fill out the cast.
It’s been a great month for Coppola fans, thanks to StudioCanal, with The Conversation having made its Blu-Ray debut, and now The Outsiders. Based on the novel by S. E. Hinton, the movie is a coming of age drama with so much more to offer. This version is longer, has more of the book’s content and has replaced the score with songs from that period.
I have to admit, I ignored this movie when it came out. There was too much emphasis on “The Brat Pack” and it made the movie look more like a “chick flick” than a movie I would be interested in. This is a shame because I would have enjoyed it had I seen it. Instead, in 1983 I was watching movies like Risky Business, Lemon Popsicle and any video nasty I could rent. So, that comes some way to showing where my head was at, in 1983.
The stand out performance for me is from Patrick Swayze. He is as cool as he is in Dirty Dancing (yes, it’s a “chick flick” but Swayze is cool in it), Point Break and Roadhouse, but with a bit more emotion. He does far better with his emoting in The Outsiders than in Road House, when he finds Sam Elliot lying dead on the bar. The Swayze plays one of three Curtis brothers who, through awful circumstances, have had to live on their own. The pressure of working and providing has taken its toll on Darrel Curtis. Rob Lowe plays Soda Pop Curtis, with C Thomas Howell playing the youngest; Ponyboy. Howell puts in a powerhouse of a performance that eclipses most of the cast. There are no let downs in this film, but Howell does such an excellent job. Matt Dillon is also very good but plays to type. Matt Dillon always plays characters that you want to slap and he doesn’t disappoint here. That said, the climax of the movie is very moving thanks to Dillon’s turnaround and sympathetic performance as his character Dallas breaks apart. Ralph Macchio also tugs at the heartstrings with his performance as the fated Johnny Cade. Emilio Estevez is his usual cheeky self and provides some light relief at one point, which was needed. Although the movie looks as if it should be upbeat, it’s anything but. It’s contemplative and thought-provoking.
Tom Cruise is in this; young, dumb and full of…odd teeth. Yes, this movie was made before the Cruise-meister had his teeth done. He looks kind of like the backwoods redneck that he doesn’t look like in any of his other movies. (Unless he looks a little like this in All the Right Moves. I don’t think I’ve seen that). Mercifully, for the older, better looking TC, he doesn’t take up too much screen time.
The cinematography is outstanding and sometimes resembles the scope of Gone With the Wind, the movie based upon the novel that Ponyboy and … loved so much, especially the sunset. This, of course, all looks great on Blu-Ray. The picture quality is very good. Zoetrope Studios have treated the movie with understandable care.
Despite the film being set in 1967, it is still easy to identify with the characters in the movie. They’re well fleshed out in this version of the movie and although we don’t see enough of how the “Socs” live their lives (it’s very much about the “Greasers” as the title refers) we can see the tragedy behind the segregation of two opposing cultures in many things. The Blu-Ray looks and sounds great for a movie from 1983. This is a great movie for parents to watch with children in their early teens, or simply for adults who know the movie and want to see it in it’s best presentation.
Score: 8/10

 The Blu-Ray is out now from all good stockists.

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