There are a few early sequences in Hollywoodland that show two important aspects of the film. First these sequences show us the type of man that George Reeves was trying to become (simply trying to get noticed) and, possibly more important, the type of actor that Affleck is becoming as his career becomes more about making quality films than making sure-fire moneymakers.
Based on the true story of the Hollywood unsolved murder of TVï¿½s George Reeves, Hollywoodland stars accomplished actors Ben Affleck, Diane Lane, Bob Hoskins and Adrien Brody. Each plays a rather pivotal role in the film either as Reevesï¿½ lover (Diane Lane), her estranged husband (Bob Hoskins), a private investigator (Adrien Brody) or the man himself George Reeves (Ben Affleck in quite possibly his finest peformance to date).
As the story tells us, Hollywood claims Reeves died in 1959 of a bullet wound to the head. Weï¿½re told that Reeves apparently killed himself before the Hollywood system could swallow him, chew him up and spit out the remains. Thatï¿½s Hollywoodï¿½s version of the story. Many donï¿½t believe this included private investigator Louis Simo (Brody) who is determined to find out what really happened to Reeves. Did Reeves really kill himself or were others involved in a plot to bring Reeves down? The film follows Simo as he tries to piece together each little clue in the hopes of finding out who killed the ï¿½Man of Steelï¿½.
Director Allen Coulter (1st time here) is use to directing TV shows, his first film shows the first film anxieties that most directors have. The story he presents is interesting in its own, but the cast seemed like a home run or a ground out. Particularly the best choice here was actor Affleck as the legendary George Reeves. He brings a sense of style and finesse to the role never seeming out of place or lost in any of the flashback sequences. Diane Lane also did an admirable job as Reeves lover and confidant. The problem here (this was a slighter issue in Brodyï¿½s recent King Kong) was that Brody seemed out of place here as investigator Louis Simo. I found myself almost ignoring the sequences with Simo as he seemed more interested in himself rather than solving this death.
Still despite the problem I had with some of the casting, Hollywoodland is a convincing film about an all-important mystery that will probably never truly be solved, the story 1st time director Coulter presents was intriguing. Affleck delivers a performance that, despite being secondary, carries the film for the most part. If only one of the more important roles hadnï¿½t been mis-cast, this one would have been excellent. Instead the film is still good, but not as good as it couldï¿½ve been.
Presented in a 1080p, VC-1 Encoded, 1:85:1 Widescreen Aspect Ratio, Hollywoodland boasts an excellent picture for Universal certainly rivaling some of their more recent HD DVD releases.
The first obvious benefit here is that Hollywoodland benefits from being a recent film (less than 5 months old). This results in nearly no grain and sequences of vivid detail. I particularly enjoyed a majority of the flashback sequences. Even though there was a bit of appropriate grain, the detail on the suits was exquisite. Color usage seemed almost perfect giving us a kind of glowing feeling in our eyes as blacks and oranges jumped off the screen. Universal has given Hollywoodland a transfer that is definitely up there on the top of all HD transfers.
Arriving with the standard Dolby Digital Plus 5.1, the audio for this one isnï¿½t the type we would think would sound all that impressive. Truth be told here, I was impressed with the aural effects Hollywoodland gave off.
Surround usage was fine but seemed overly hit or miss. Some sequences (mostly the upbeat ballroom type sequences) resulted in a lot of surround activity while the more quiet sequences resulted in a pretty much dead affair. Dialogue was great with no evidence of muddled dialogue. Dynamic Range was also pretty impressive with a rather solid sound design. Bass was rather absent (although I canï¿½t really be mad as I didnï¿½t expect my sub to really do much here). While certainly not as good as the video presentation, Hollywoodland stills sound fine.
- Audio Commentary with director Allen Coulter: director Allen Coulter sits down and speaks to us on the casting of the film (he seemed to enjoy actor Adrien Brody quite a bit as he brings him up a lot), production issues and art direction. I enjoyed the comments Coulter had, but it would have been nice if one of the actors could have offered some comments as well.
- Recreating Old Hollywood: This rather brief feature focuses on the costume and production design used for the film. The disappointment here is that this one was so short that as an audience member, I couldnï¿½t ever get involved.
- Behind the Headlines: Serving as a sort of interview type feature, this one gives us information on the relationship between Reeves and Simo.
- Hollywood: Then & Now: The last of three features focuses on the history of MGM and the 1960s Hollywood. Easily the most fascinating material in its own right, but way too damn short.
- Deleted Scenes: Here we get five minutes of deleted scenes that focus more of sequences were dialogue was removed rather than character development.
Had it not been for a few mis-cast issues, director Allen Coulterï¿½s 1st feature film would have been one for the books as the combination of an important story plus the excellent acting of Affleck, make this one very interesting. Universal has given us a five star transfer with commendable audio. Unfortunately, this one is rather light in the feature department (George Reeves was a big man, why didnï¿½t we get more on him?). Iï¿½m still going to recommend everyone give this one rental, as the story and the acting is great at times.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary with director Allen Coulter
- Recreating Old Hollywood
- Behind the Headlines
- Hollywood: Then & Now
- Deleted Scenes