HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Prince Movie Collection (Purple Rain, Under the Cherry Moon, Graffiti Bridge)
HTS Overall Score:68
WARNING: THE SCORES ABOVE ARE A COMBINED SCORE FROM ALL 3 FILMS, THE INDIVIDUAL SCORES ARE CONTAINED BELOW IN THE INDIVIDUAL SECTIONS OF THE REVIEW
Word is that Warner was actually getting ready to release a Prince box set before the untimely demise of the famous singer, but his overdose on pain medication earlier this year that lead to his death kind of kick started the whole deal into overdrive. Now, we get a wonderfully done set of this three feature films in one nice and shiny boxset. Complete with an appropriately purple colored Blu-ray case to house the three disc collection. Personally I have to say that the movie collection of the set is DEFINITELY a set FOR THE FANS of Prince himself. “Purple Rain” was a big hit for 1984, but has aged rather poorly today if you’re watching it for any other purpose than to see Prince perform, and the two follow up films were received VERY poorly by critics (and for a very good reason).
Purple Rain :3stars:
Back in 1984 Prince was on top of the musical world. He was already a star musician and his music was EVERYWHERE. Dance clubs, Cassettes, packed clubs. He had it all. However the star wanted to go bigger and decided that film was the right place to do that in. “Purple Rain” (titled after one of his biggest songs ever) was a smash hit that launched the star into complete godhood at that point in his career. Part music video, part live performance, and part actual story, “Purple Rain” tells the story of a young musician who is just trying to make it in the musical world. Lead singer of a low levels band called “The Revolution”, Prince (only known as “The Kid” in the film) is struggling to get by on his own terms. He’s the third act in a three act night club in town and on his last favor. His music is good, the talent is there, but for some reason he’s just not pulling in the gigs like he should. The reality of the situation is that his ego is keeping him back. No one can tell him what to do and no one can tell him what to sing. Even if it’s his own audience.
Things change up when a young singer by the name of Apollonia (Apollonia Kotero) comes to town and wants a gig at his same club. The two hit it off instantly and the passion is just palpable to the naked eye. However, his own hang-ups start to ruin the relationship. He’s been living with his parents show have a nastily abusive relationship and has picked up a few habits of his deadbeat dad (who was also a big time musician who had the capability to make it big, but stumbled and fell into a vicious wife beating pattern). Soon he’s torching his whole career and everything he has left, even though he has the lifelines to get out. His band members have fresh music that can breathe life into his work, but he’d rather wallow in self-pity and arrogance. It takes a tragic turn of events in his home life to realize that maybe, just maybe, he can accept a helping hand from those closest to him and bring out the true potential within himself.
“Purple Rain” is part biopic, part music video, part story based drama and part live performance. What you get out of the film is really what you put into the film. Or more aptly, what you remember of the 80s. The film is very much a time capsule back to 1984 and the tropes and melodrama that is in the film are ALL 80s stereotypes and blasts down memory lane. I suspect that if you’re not a Prince fan (or the artist formerly known as Prince, or the man who had his name as an unpronounceable glyph, etc etc) or a fan of the film back when it WAS the 80s, the movie will seem a more than a little cheesy and goofy. And I can’t deny that either. Even as a fan of the 80s I have to agree that “Purple Rain” as a movie has not aged well. The melodrama is honey thick and just as sticky and nasty. Prince was VERY obviously not an actor, but rather a performer, and the movie amplifies that to level 10. Prince’s dialog and delivery is very stilted and poorly done, and he loves to “pose” in all of his scenes. It feels like he’s trying to be live on stage for his acting, but that really doesn’t work in the film world. However, when he’s on stage and performing for the audience that posing turns into the pure magic as the king of pop (sorry Michael Jackson, you had competition) does what he does best.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=82017[/img]Under the Cherry Moon :2stars:
Following up 1984’s smash hit, “Purple Rain”, Prince was more than willing to come back to the silver screen with another attempt at film stardom. This time it was with a romantic comedy that would have him posing as a womanizing Gigolo in the French Riviera that was SUPPOSED to be a serious period drama/romance. The critics naturally rolled their eyes at the concept and rightfully so. The film flopped BIG TIME in both critical and regular audiences, leaving Prince with a sour taste in his mouth in regards to film aspirations.
The film starts out with a voiceover stating that Chris (Prince) will “Die for Love” in his finding TRUE love, but viewers will have to realize that there is some small exaggeration going on here. Very little of the film plays out like the tragic love story that it was seemingly intentioned to be. Chris is a high style Gigolo who can make anyone his love slave with his cool charm and sex appeal. Charming the pants (or at least dresses) off of rich and lonely house wives is a business, but soon Chris is about to find out that he’s in over his head. When he and his gigolo partner, Tricky (Jerome Benton) spy a new mark in Mary Sharon (award winning actress Kristin Scott Thomas), a rich heiress who has just come into a 50 million franc forture, they decide that they will woo the young heiress into giving them a cut of the dough.
What starts out as a simple con turns into a whirlwind romance as the stylish and dashing Chris turns the head of the impulsive but bored Mary. Her father, Isaac Sharon (British actor Steven Berkoff), has other plans for his daughter, though. Intending to wed her off to a much more suitable match. A match with much more society cred and wealth. Despite Chris having leverage over Isaac with knowledge of his affairs with society ladies, the young gigolo is going to have to fight for what he wants, and Mary will too if she intends to find true happiness.
“Under the Cherry Moon” is a ridiculous little film that is a huge drop-off from the critically acclaimed “Purple Rain”. It plays out like a bad mix of 1960’s comedy mixed with Prince trying to play it appealing and stylish. Sadly the 80s idea of appealing just ends up looking baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad in the film, with eye liner everywhere and Prince gyrating around and lisping the whole time. I wasn’t sure whether we were to take Chris and Tricky seriously, or whether to write them off as part of the three stooges.
The good comes from Michael Ballhaus and some seriously stunning visual shots. The French Riviera and the locations used are nothing short of magnificent, and Kristin Scott Thomas is the redeeming acting job in the entire movie. She still was yet to be nominated for her work in “The English Patient”, but the budding actress’s skill and style are very obvious from the get go and she rises head and shoulders above the rest of the actors.
Graffiti Bridge :1.5stars:
Even the most hardcore fans of “Prince” has to admit that “Graffiti Bridge” is a hard pill to swallow. 6 years after his first feature film, Prince follows up the act with his 4th film (his third being a concert film called “Sign O’ the Times”, which is actually not controlled by Warner Brother), and this would actually be his LAST starring role as well (and for good reason). Simply destroyed at the box office and critically dumped on, “Graffiti Bridge” is a painful film that really sealed the great artist’s fate on the silver screen. Not only was the movie an embarrassment for all involved it was nominated for several Razzie awards, but it was systematically used as a joke on the artist during his 90s career and would still be seen as a black spot (according to the artist himself) on his professional career for years to come.
“Graffiti Bridge” acts as an unofficial sequel to “Purple Rain”, with Prince reprising his role as The Kid, and facing off against his arch nemesis, Morris (Morris Day). It seems that their old mentor and club owner has willed them his club with the two men owning equal stock in the enterprise. Morris is no some big media kingpin and is stylistically written up as some wannabe pimp dressing fanatic who runs the town like a mob boss. He and the Kid don’t see eye to eye on the type of music to play, with the kid preferring a more soulful 80s vibe, while Morris wants to bring the club into the future with some good old fashioned 1990’s era “Salt N’ Peppa” rapping to bring in the big dough.
The Kid is still obsessed with his father’s legacy, writing letters to his spirit and creating songs to honor him, but it seems that the love of his life, Apollonia, is gone. Simply erased as if she didn’t even exist. In her place is Jill (Jill Jones), who was the waitress drooling over him in “Purple Rain”. In this world she and The Kid got together, but The Kid is still a moron when it comes to love. When a mysterious woman with the name of “Aura” (yeah, I get the hint) comes in town he drops Jill like a hot potato and scoops up Aura instead. Jill is naturally snagged by Morris and the pairs gave of fencing gets even more vicious.
Aura and The Kid form a strange relationship. It’s fairly obvious from her name and the hints heavily dropped throughout the film, but she’s not exactly an earthly creature. This is made even more obvious by her fading in and out of the film at will and her little platitudes in regards to The Kid’s broken “soul”. She’s basically there to heal the musical rifts that have formed in the town and bring them all together into one happy family, despite the obvious differences between Morris and The Kid’s musical styles.
The film strikes an odd balance between music video and gangster film, with Morris taking the lead here with a character that is reminiscent of his goofy “Richard Pryor” style ramblings of “Purple Rain” and his wannabe pimp gangster persona that he displays here as well (nothing says you’re a bad boy like being able to eat hot chili peppers straight from the bottle). Still, it’s a ridiculous film that really is almost a joke. With the original director dropping out at the last moment, Prince took over in the writing and directing chair as well as starring, making for a complete mess of a film. He’s a fantastic actor, but completely inept in the writing and directing business. “Graffiti Bridge” struggles to maintain a cohesive storyline and rivals “Electric Boogaloo” for completely inane dance and sing offs. Just without any of the humor that went along with that goofy film.
Rated R by the MPAA / Rated PG-13 By the MPAA / Rated PG-13 By the MPAA
Purple Rain :4stars:
“Purple Rain” was originally released by itself back in 2007 when Blu-ray was first getting off the ground. Like many catalog titles (and even new releases) in that day and age, “Purple Rain” was released on a BD-25 single layer disc using the VC-1 codec and getting a fairly anemic bitrate in the high teens (usually about 17 mbps) It was slightly windowboxed to account for overscan and CLEARLY was made from an old master. The film had been lightly degrained and some filtering techniques were obvious. It wasn’t a bad transfer, but it was one that definitely had some age related problems coming from a master meant for the DVD era and NOT for the shiny world of HD.
Fast forward 9 years and this release has been given a new mastering and a new aspect ratio that mimics the 1.85:1 theatrical version. Gone are those little tiny black bars on the side and in its place Warner has opened up the matte ever so slightly from 1.85:1 to 1.78:1 (a little edit that Warner does quite often and really isn’t a huge deal as the difference between 1.85:1 and 1.78:1 is so miniscule that it serves only to irritate 100% purists). The disc has been given a MUCH higher bitrate (averaging in 35-37 mbps range) on the much more efficient AVC encoding technology, and the results are definitely there. “Purple Rain’ was shot on location on the cheap, and doesn’t have the luxury of a studio lot with studio lighting to help it out. The movie was shot guerilla style and the use of natural lighting can make the film look less than shiny and professional at times. However, it does give the film a raw and unfiltered look, so despite some of the heavy grain issues that pop up from the low lighting and the dark blacks that have some definite crush, the movie looks fantastic all things considered. Fine detail is excellent, and the pencil thing “Prince” mustache is perfectly defined, along with his normally lavish costumes and stage settings. While the disc is not 100% perfect, it IS a huge leap over the 2007 disc and probably the best the film is ever going to look considering the low budget shooting.
Under the Cherry Moon :4stars:
Prince learned from the low budget “guerilla” style directing work that went on with “Purple Rain” and upgraded his cinematographer to famous German artist (and co-director at times), Michael Ballhaus, and the results are much more stylish and cohesive. “Under the Cherry Moon” is a ridiculously directed movie, but the visual style is very sleek and shiny. The French style humor and over the top goofiness gives the film a very busy look that is oddly toned down with the black and white stylings. Supposedly the film was originally shot in color and then backwards color graded to get the black and white effect, something that shows with certain comments regarding colors and tones throughout (I’m actually surprised the color adoring Prince allowed the lack of color in the movie). Blacks are deep and inky, with solid shade differences throughout. Contrast is well done, but sometimes skin tones look a little pale and the blacks crush a tad.
Graffiti Bridge :4stars:
A definite step up from both “Purple Rain” and “Under the Cherry Moon”, “Graffiti Bridge” is taken from a nice new 2K master and is a much more colorful film than the others. Shot by Bill Butler (most famous for “Jaws”), the hazy and dreamlike film is filled with all sorts of 90s colors and deep black alley way scenes. Colors are almost neon in brightness and intermingled with lots of black and leather and pleather to balance out the sharp colors. Fine detail is excellent throughout, with good skin tones and fantastic looking detail ranging from facial textures to the background of the nightclub that Morris and The Kid are fighting over. Blacks sometimes crush a bit and the overly saturated colors lean towards ruddy facial tones, but overall it’s a very nice looking transfer for the horrific film.
Purple Rain :4stars:
Recorded in Dolby Stereo theatrically, “Purple Rain” was remixed to a 5.1 track for the old 2004 DVD edition and that 5.1 mix was put onto the 2007 Blu-ray and now this release as well. Given a Dolby TrueHD mix for the 2007 disc and now a 5.1 DTS-HD MA on this release, I feel that the DTS-HD MA mix is ever so slightly more balanced. The aggressive TrueHD track has been tamed just a bit and sounds more musical to the ear. The LFE is still powerful and chest hitting in the performances, but it doesn’t have that slightly hot and overcooked feeling that the 2007 Blu-ray suffered from. Dialog is strong and clean, locked up front where it belongs, and the surrounds get a workout with the copious musical performances by the king himself. It’s a solid mix and just like the video, was shot on the cheap, but given a lot of TLC in the editing room to make it sound amazing.
Under the Cherry Moon :4stars:
The film was also recorded in 2 channel stereo, and that 2.0 channel experience is replicated here with a 2.0 DTS-HD MA lossless mix. The stereo mix is a bit less “busy” than the crazy visuals, but it is still a fairly vibrant and exciting mix. The front stoundstage is solid and shows good imaging with the dialog and special effects, but the real excitement comes from the musical numbers which light up the whole stereo system. Dynamic range and LFE are impressive enough, and add a goodly bit of fun to the musical numbers and the dialog itself is always crisp and perfectly intelligible at all times.
Graffiti Bridge :4stars:
The 2.0 theatrical experience has been replicated on this Blu-ray with solid results. Mixed in 2.0 DTS-HD MA lossless, the music oriented track shines with a wide dynamic range that is full of punch and pizazz during the copious musical numbers. Dialog is intelligible and well replicated, and the LFE punch is more than enough to satisfy. The track isn’t given a whole lot to do besides transferring dialog and music, but it is more than serviceable enough with the requirements asked of it.
• Commentary by Director Albert Magnoli, Producer Robert Cavallo and Cinematographer Donald E. Thorin
• First Avenue: The Road to Pop Royalty: Visit the Nightclub Where Prince Started
• Purple Rain Backstage Pass: Behind the Scenes
• Riffs, Ruffles and a Revolution: The Impact and Influence of Purple Rain
• MTV Premiere Party Original Broadcast
• 8 Music Videos: Let's Go Crazy, Take Me With U, When Doves Cry, I Would Die 4 U/Baby I'm a Star, Purple Rain, Jungle Love, The Bird and Sex Shooter
Under the Cherry Moon
• Theatrical Trailer
• Theatrical Trailer
Warner once again gives us plenty of options for those of us who like to diversify. The trio of films is given a CHEAP price and a very nice boxset (complete with purple cases), but they have also released the films separately for those of you who just want one or two of the three (or don’t like a complete boxset). Personally I think that most of you will want to get “Purple Rain” and skip the other two, but the boxset is there for fans of the man himself and will want to grab it to complete his film career for sure. So whether you’re a minor fan of the artist or a huge Prince fanatic, Warner has you covered with the option to get 1, 2 or all 3 of the films for a very reasonable price.
Starring: Prince, Apollonia Kotero, Morris Day, Jerome Benton, Ingrid Chavez
Directed by: Albert Magnoli : Prince, Michael Ballhaus : Prince
Written by: Albert Magnoli, William Blinn : Becky Johnston : Prince
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC / 1.78:1 AVC / 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: ENGLISH: DTS - HD MA 5.1, English DTS-HD MA 2.0, Spanish DD 2.0, French, German DD 5.1, German DD 2.0
Studio: Warner Brothers
Rated: R / PG-13 / PG -13
Runtime: 111 Minutes / 100 Minutes / 95 Minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: October 4th, 2016
Buy Purple Rain: Commemorative Edition Blu-ray on Amazon
Buy Under the Cherry Moon Blu-ray on Amazon
Buy Graffiti Bridge Blu-ray on Amazon
Buy Prince Movie Collection Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: For the Prince Fans
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