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Vanilla Sky

Vanilla Sky on DVD

Considering I'd seen the Spanish film, Abre Los Ojos ("Open Your Eyes"), on which Vanilla Sky is based, I was a little weary.

Cameron Crowe's Vanilla Sky is pretty much the same movie (as is common with remakes). It's a well-structured, well-written movie that unfortunately has a few too many twists. It crosses the point of being clever, and heads on into "extremely weird" territory.

Tom Cruise is David Aames, a millionaire and womanizer, who owns and runs a successful magazine. The Board of Directors (the Seven Dwarfs, as David calls them) wants to overthrow David so they can have absolute power of the 'zine (as it stands, David has 51% control).

One day, he meets Sophia (Penelope Cruz), a beautiful dancer, and he falls deeply in love with her. But then a friend and former conquest, Julie (Cameron Diaz) follows him and speaks her disappointment and jealousy. She drives off a bridge, killing herself, and leaving David's face and arm horribly disfigured.

After that, there's not much you can say about the plot without giving something big away.

Most of the movie is flashbacks, as David has been charged with murder and must tell his story to a shrink.

The film's biggest asset is its cast. Tom Cruise proves once again that he's more than just a pretty face, and does an excellent job in the lead. Penelope Cruz proves that she's also more than just a pretty face, playing Sophia. She's probably the cutest thing to come out of Hollywood in a long time, and she can act as well. What more can you ask for?

In supporting roles, Kurt Russell plays Dr. McCabe, the shrink who is trying to help David out of doing jail time. He's always been one of my favorite actors, and he does a good job in Sky. Jason Lee, however, steals every scene he's in as David's best friend, Brian. He has all the movie's funniest lines, and is a real treat to watch.

Cameron Crowe, the man behind Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous, directs the film very well. He's a great director, but just didn't quite make the right movie this time. It isn't bad, but it's a little too weird. The stuff that leads up to the ending is well worth watching, but there are too many weird twists.

However, I did enjoy Vanilla Sky more than I enjoyed Abre Los Ojos. I figure it's because this is the kind of movie you have to watch twice. The first time you'll likely be confused (and a little disappointed), but the second time you'll know what's going on and will be able to sit back and enjoy it.

I guess the fact that Vanilla Sky is in English doesn't hurt, either.

As is common with Paramount, the DVD is about average. The picture and sound are good, but the extras look better in writing than they actually are in reality.

The video is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, and is pretty soft. Softness is better than grain or fluff (or just lousy picture in general), but it's still something more studios need to take care to eliminate. Fortunately, this is a weird movie, and the soft picture almost works, but I highly doubt it was intentional.

The audio is the typical 5.1 Dolby Digital (it would be nice if Paramount would get on the DTS train sometime soon…) and is good but not great. There is some eerie music and sound effects that would have worked beautifully through the surrounds, but it's mostly restricted to the fronts. I notice this is a common feature with Paramount, much like the lack of good extras.

Speaking of extras…

The highlight of the disc is the commentary by Cameron Crowe and Nancy Wilson. It's really a commentary by Crowe with the occasional word or two thrown in by Wilson. It does feature a conversation with Tom Cruise, but it's really nothing more than a way to say Mr. Cruise was involved in the extras (cause he was involved in the movie in some way, I think).

Next up are two short featurettes, called "Prelude to a Dream" and "Hitting it Hard." The latter is footage taken at various screenings around the world and is mostly people screaming at the presence of Tom Cruise. The former is a little more informative, and has Crowe talking about why he wanted to make the movie and has a bit of behind-the-scenes footage. The combined length of the two is less than 20 minutes. There is also an interview with Paul McCartney, a music video, a photo gallery, the unreleased teaser trailer and the international theatrical trailer.

Vanilla Sky, from Paramount Home Entertainment
135 minutes, anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) 16X9 enhanced, 5.1 Dolby Digital
Starring Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz, Kurt Russell, Jason Lee and Cameron Diaz
Produced by Tom Cruise, Paula Wagner, Cameron Crowe
Written for the screen and directed by Cameron Crowe


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Updated May 13, 2006