Weird Science [Special Edition] – Blu-ray Review
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Film Title: Weird Science
Release Date: 1985
Runtime: 94 minutes / 97 minutes (Extended Version)
Region Coding: Region A
Distributor: Arrow Video
Audio Format: DTS-HD MA 2.0 / 5.1
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Formats Available: Blu-ray
Version Reviewed: Blu-ray Disc
Blu-ray Release Date: 07/23/19
Director: John Hughes
Cast: Anthony Michael Hall, Ilan Mitchell-Smith, Kelly LeBrock, Bill Paxton, Suzanne Snyder, Judie Aronson, Robert Rusler, Robert Downey Jr., Michael Berryman
Jump to Sections: Movie | Video | Audio | Bonus | Closing | Screenshots
Full Blu-ray Tech Specs can be found at the very bottom.
“Weird Science” was a 1985 Comedy / Sci-Fi that was written and directed by the late John Hughes. This was Hughes’ third film as a director, out of the eight films he wrote and directed which include classics such as “Sixteen Candles” (1984), “The Breakfast Club” (1985), “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (1986), “Planes, Trains, And Automobiles” (1987), and “Uncle Buck” (1989). Hughes also wrote and produced such others films during his career, before passing away in 2009, such as “Home Alone” (1990), “National Lampoons’s Christmas Vacation” (1989), “The Great Outdoors” (1988), “Pretty in Pink” (1986), “National Lampoon’s Vacation” (1983), and “Mr. Mom” (1983). John Hughes was one very legendary filmmaker and left a long-lasting memorable impression on so many of us all, especially those growing up in the 1980s. That should be said here, I felt.
This film was unique in Hughes’ writing style in that it featured a Sci-Fi influence (obviously) and that it wasn’t totally based on his own work. In fact, not a lot of people know that “Weird Science“ was actually a comic book series by EC Comics, from the early 1950s. The story here is said to be loosely based on one of the stories that appeared in the fifth issue of that comic book series.
Our story here involves two teenage male protagonists, “Gary” (Anthony Michael Hall) and “Wyatt” (Ilan Mitchell-Smith). Gary and Wyatt seem to be really having a hard time fitting in at high school, let’s just say they can’t get a girl to much less talk to them let alone go out with them on a date. The guys get harassed in gym class by the more popular guys, just as you’d typically expect from what people often refer to as nerds (or dare I say, dorks). These two geeks (harsh, I know) decide to have a sleepover one night while Wyatt’s parents are out of town and it’s from there that they come up with an idea that will change their teenage lives.
So, Gary is pretty much convinced they really don’t have much of a chance with finding any girls unless they were to know more about them. Wyatt listens to Gary as he explains but he also is watching the old Universal monster movie “Frankenstein” at the same time – sadly, colorized. In walks, Gary who then begins to become a bit fixated on the film on TV when it’s at a very pivotal and memorable point: right when Frankenstein’s monster comes to life. Gary has it! Why not use all the computers, knowledge, and such that his friend Wyatt has to just make a girl from scratch? Well, that’s pretty much the plot. That said, the two decide to create the woman of their dreams using magazine clippings and whatnot to scan into the computer (in a pretty unrealistic manner), along with a bit of extra computing power and electrical magic.
To really avoid dishing out too many (more) “spoilers” here I’ll just say the guys do manage to make a woman, they named “Lisa” (Kelly LeBrock). Lisa is more than these two had ever bargained for but they start to really learn to enjoy having her around, aside from the obvious young male reasoning. Lisa teaches these guys what it is to be cool. This film is one of those where you get to see the less popular guys have their day, it should be obvious by the basic plot. Lastly, there are some great supporting performances here in this film by the likes of a young Robert Downey, Jr. and the late Bill Paxton.
Movie Rating: 4.25 (out of 5)
“Weird Science” on its Special Edition Blu-ray is presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, just as it was shown theatrically. The film has now received a new 4K restoration from the original camera negative. That being said, this was shot on 35mm film using the Ultracam 35 camera with spherical lenses, according to IMDb.
This new restoration was conducted “exclusively” by Arrow Films. It first started with a new 4K scan of the original 35mm camera negative which was done by EFilm, Burbank on a Lasergraphics Director. Next, the 4K scan was sent to Pinewood Studios, London where the film was graded and restored. The picture grading process was “completed on a DaVinci Resolve and restoration was completed using PF Clean software,” according to the limited edition booklet included with this first pressing of the Special Edition Blu-ray.
This time around, unlike on the previously released 2013 Blu-ray, you will get a whole lot more visible film grain in the presentation. That film grain was pixilated last time around with what little it had, whereas now the film grain is apparent and fits the visual style of the early Eighties quite well. The colors are rich and vibrant, with pink being highlighted a few times when the character of “Lisa” (Kelly LeBrock) first appears – as seen above.
The amount of detail in close-ups (as seen below) can be pretty impressive at times and a bit soft on other occasions. The black level here is solid and the flesh tones appear to be accurate. The overall visual presentation here comes with a nice amount of newfound detail, a healthy amount of film grain and it finally does the film as much justice as it can. All and all, this new Special Edition from Arrow Video makes for a recommended upgrade on Blu-ray.
Video Quality Rating: 4.25 (out of 5)
Audio here on the Theatrical Cut is presented in both DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Stereo and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 – with the surround being exclusive to only that version of the film. That said, the Extended Version of the film is only presented in the DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Stereo configuration. Both sound mixes have been restored. This is not what you have heard on the previously released 2013 Blu-ray or such. With that being said, let me first discuss the 5.1 mix that I first experienced during my viewing of the Theatrical Cut that it’s exclusive to.
This 5.1 lossless mix makes some solid use of the rear channels for background noises, music, and such. It’s nothing really over-the-top in terms of the amount of bass coming from the subwoofer. Dialogue is mixed in a perfect manner primarily to center channel speaker. The majority of the film’s music, sound effects, and whatnot get delivered through the two front left and right channel speakers. This is a good surround mix and it does the film justice.
Now, for the Stereo lossless mix which is available on both versions of the film. I actually sampled a bit of it in the Theatrical Cut and found it to be pretty good at first listening. I followed that sampling up with a viewing of the Extended Version of the film which is only available in the sound mix. I found this to be, honestly, a better listening experience that felt more true to the original film and time period. That’s said, I found myself actually preferring the Stereo (2.0) here over 5.1 in terms of sound mixes. I guess I am turning, slowly with age, into a purist of sorts when it comes to audio. Plus, it makes sense this film would sound best in Stereo, considering it was originally mixed in and presented in Dolby Stereo during its theatrical run.
It should be mentioned here that the self-titled theme song from the opening of the film and even during the film (performed by Oingo Boingo) sounds great on both the 5.1 and 2.0 lossless mixes. To me, that’s very important, as the theme song really makes the film work so well. All and all, this new Special Edition Blu-ray release from Arrow Video earns itself a pretty impressive rating for audio quality.
Audio Quality Rating: 4.25 (out of 5)
Bonus materials on this release are presented in both HD (high definition) and SD (standard definition) video with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound – unless otherwise noted below. They include the following:
- Edited-For-TV Version (1:34:06 – SD) is presented in the 1.33:1 (4×3) aspect ratio and features DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Stereo sound. This also comes with the following featurette:
- “Split Screen Comparison” (18:16 – SD) shows the two different versions of the film with scenes removed for nudity, or cursing replaced for different audio dialogue dub changes, and such. These dialogue changes are at times pretty damn hilarious to listen to, especially to the words that were used to replace the original lines from the film for this cut.
- Additional Scenes (2:45 – HD) come with DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Stereo sound. These allow you to be able to watch the extra scenes that are found in the Extended Version of the film separately (“in isolation”). There’s a lot of interesting factors to these scenes with the first being that we get to see a different viewing of the “Frankenstein” film in its original Black & White form – instead of the colorized version found in the Theatrical Cut. The two guys are also watching it on a totally different television display as well, discussing film history to actually piece together a bit more of the idea they come up with. Lastly, the scene involving a group of guys showing up to a party dressed like they were members of the band Devo probably should have ended up on the cutting room floor – as it did.
- NEW “Casting Weird Science with Jackie Burch” (6:03 – SD) has the casting director giving an audio interview that is accompanied by posters, on set photography, and clips from the film. We learn that Sharon Stone almost actually got the main female role here. Burch takes time to remember the late Bill Paxton and working with him.
- NEW “Dino The Greek with John Kapelos” (6:55 – SD) is an interview with the actor who played the Greek character “Dino” (namely during a bar scene) in the film. This actor also worked with the late John Hughes on two other of his films – with those being “Sixteen Candles” (1984) and “The Breakfast Club” (1985).
- NEW “Chet Happens with Craig Reardon” (19:38 – SD) is an interview with the special makeup effects creator who discusses how a scene in the film was done. I won’t get too much into detail about this scene, to avoid “spoilers” for those who have never seen the film. Let’s just say that this has a lot of great backstories involving the late John Hughes (writer/director) and Bill Paxton (“Chet” in the film).
- NEW “Fantasy and Microchips” (10:46 – SD) is an interview with one of the film’s three editors, Chris Lebenzon.
- NEW “Ira Newborn Makes The Score” (13:43 – HD) is an interview with the composer who worked on this film as well as other John Hughes films like “Sixteen Candles” (1984) and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (1986).
- “It’s Alive! Resurrecting Weird Science“ (16:41 – SD) was a short documentary that originally appeared on the 2008 home video release of the film. This is comprised of interviews with members of the cast, crew, other filmmakers, and other admirers. Those interviewed here include Anthony Michael Hall (“Gary Wallace”), Diablo Cody (Screenwriter, “Juno”), John Kapelos (“Dino”), Jeffrey Sconce (Associate Professor in Screen Cultures, Northwestern University), Marilyn Vance (Costume Designer), Hank Stuever (Staff Writer, Washington Post), Amy Heckerling (Director, “Clueless”), Owen Gleiberman (Film Critic, Entertainment Weekly), Michael Lehman (Director, “Heathers”), Justin Henry (“Mike Baker” in “Sixteen Candles”), and Ally Sheedy (“Allison” in “The Breakfast Club”).
- Theatrical Teaser (2:37 – HD)
- Theatrical Trailer (1:34 – SD)
- TV Spots (1:01 -SD)
- Radio Spots (4:50 – SD)
- “Image Galleries” include:
- Shooting Script (2:13 – SD) is 134 pages in length.
- Production Stills (1:59 – SD) includes a total of 120 images.
- Poster & Video Art (0:22 – SD) includes a total of 23 images.
- An Illustrated Collector’s Booklet included only with the first pressing, is 44 pages in length. This features highlights about the cast and crew as well as 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. Finally, there’s one page About The Restoration that gives some really interesting details.
- Reversible Sleeve featuring the original artwork as well as newly commissioned artwork by Tracie Ching.
Overall the bonus materials here are impressive, with a whole lot of new material making up the majority of the extras. There’s the Edited-For-TV Version of the film included first off, as well as the seamless branching that allows you to also watch the Extended Version of the film (in HD). So, I kind of consider those two additional versions of this film being included actual extras of sorts and factor that into my rating. Plus, you have the limited edition collectible booklet that will ONLY be found in the first pressing of this release to factor in – which isn’t a bonus that will always be there (for other consumers at a later point in time).
Now, with all of that being said I really think this Special Edition on Blu-ray of the film earns an impressive rating for what all it includes. For instance, it also includes the actual shooting script as an image gallery and even as a PDF file on the BD-ROM form of the Blu-ray Disc itself. This is enough of new bonus materials and old archival extras to leave any fan of this film impressed in comparison to what was on past home video releases – even the 2013 Blu-ray.
Bonus Materials Rating: 4.25 (out of 5)
“Weird Science” was probably one of the least successful films during its theatrical release for John Hughes (writer/director) but it went on to become a definite cult-classic in the Science Fiction (Sci-Fi) and Comedy genres. The Sci-Fi genre was not one that Hughes would ever make a return to in his career but he approached it from his typical take on teenagers with a pretty unrealistic approach. The film itself proves to still be just as funny as ever and remains memorable, over thirty years since its release.
This new Special Edition Blu-ray thankfully fixes the video transfer that was found on the previous 2013 Blu-ray with a new 4K scan and restoration done by the folks at Arrow Video. This still feels soft, as a lot of early 1980s films do, but it looks much sharper than it ever has on home video. The audio mixes also have been restored and sound much better than before. Plus, you get to see both the Theatrical Cut (94 minutes) and the Extended Cut (97 minutes) of the film both in HD from the same 4K restoration.
The bonus materials here (as mentioned) are impressive, including yet another version of the film (the Edited-For-TV Version) in SD, along with a lot of new interviews, the original theatrical teaser, trailer, TV and radio spots, image galleries of production stills, posters and home video release covers, as well as even the shooting Script as a gallery and PDF file (on the BD-ROM). There’s even a limited edition booklet included that just makes this an even more enjoyable set of extras.
This new Special Edition Blu-ray of “Weird Science” from Arrow Video really proves to definitely be a recommended upgrade.
In terms of Blu-ray release, this gets:
4.25 (out of 5) for video quality
4.25 (out of 5) for audio quality
4.25 (out of 5) for bonus materials