Site created 12/15/97.
review added: 2/17/00
1998 (1999) - Universal
review by Brad Pilcher of
The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras):
Specs and Features
144 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced,
single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:05:05, in chapter
18), Amaray keep case packaging, film-themed menu screens, scene
access (40 chapters), languages: English & French (DD 5.1) and
French (DD 2.0), subtitles: English and Spanish
"I'm going to
tell you something really outrageous. I'm going to tell you the
Primary Colors is a film about
Clinton. It's that simple, and there is no denying it - even if
names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent. But this
isn't just a film that shows how "bad" a guy Clinton was,
and it isn't a movie that's trying to gloss over the faults of one
our most charming presidents. This film is grounded in reality, and
that's why it succeeds.
John Travolta jumps into the role of Governor Jack Stanton, and
delivers a dead-on portrayal of pre-White House "Clinton".
Travolta, however, is hardly the best actor in this, though. Emma
Thompson, Billy Bob Thornton and Kathy Bates all come out shining.
This is a film that really works because of the acting, and this
point cannot be underscored enough. Also turning in a memorable
performance in the film is Adrian Lester, who delivers the lead role
wonderfully. It's a shame he's so overshadowed by the other names in
this, because he really carries the film.
The audience follows the story through the eyes of Lester's
idealistic campaign manager. As the story goes on, Lester sees his
idealism tarnished by the various indiscretions of the candidate he
believes in. Through him, the audience is forced to rectify the two
views. You don't have to be idealistic or a complete cynic, because
both ideals are well depicted here. The requirement that they be
rectified is what brings us out of the black and white world of
media-portrayed politics and into the reality that these are flawed
people (just like everyone else) trying to be the ideal we demand to
elect. Simply fantastic!
Technically, the disc is top-notch. The dual-layered approach
allows for a higher bit-rate in compression and it shows. Film
grain, nada. Artifacts, nope. The anamorphic treatment doesn't hurt
either. The soundfield is also very nice. So many great DVDs aren't
action blockbusters, but just good movies that sound splendid. Primary
Colors is one of those films.
Supplement-wise, this disc is a bit lacking. If there was ever a
movie crying out for an audio commentary (or three), this is it.
What we do get is a trailer and your usual mix of bios and
production notes. Nothing stellar, but it has all the requirements.
I still would have liked to see some commentary though.
Having not read the book this film was adapted from, I can't say if
it's better or worse in its goal. What I can say is that the film
does wonderfully, either way. Despite the slim supplements, this
film is easily worth the price. But be ready to question our
sometimes one-dimensional ideas of who our politicians are and what
we demand them to be. Just for making us think, this is a definite