Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas - Arrow Limited Edition 4K UHD [UK Import]Overview -
Terry Gilliam takes on the novel that only he could do justice, Hunter S. Thompson’s iconic Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Featuring tour-de-force performances of inebriation from Johnny Depp and Benicio del Toro, we’re thrust into the hilarious and terrifying journey of two men in the depths of a drug binge. Arrow Video UK gives fans of Gilliam’s classic a good reason to import with an excellent Dolby Vision transfer, audio, and hours of extras. Highly Recommended
Considered unfilmable for decades, Hunter S. Thompson's literary landmark of psychedelic excess finally met its cinematic match in anarchic visionary director Terry Gilliam (Twelve Monkeys) and two no-holds-barred star performances by Johnny Depp and Benicio del Toro.
Raoul Duke (Depp) and his volatile Samoan attorney Dr. Gonzo (del Toro) are en route to Las Vegas, ostensibly on a banal journalistic assignment, but the suitcase full of psychoactive narcotics in their possession tells another story. Beset by bats, horny lizards and runaway hotel carpet upon their arrival, the pair plunge deeper into the pharmaceutically enhanced neon underbelly of the City of Sin on a chemically charged savage journey to the heart of the American Dream.
Flashback to Gilliam and Thompson's trip of a lifetime with this 4K restoration, accompanied by an outstanding selection of bonus material delving into the history of the film and the original book.
- 4K RESTORATION from the original negative approved by Terry Gilliam
- DOLBY VISION/HDR PRESENTATION OF THE FILM
- Original 5.1 & 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio
- Optional subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Feature commentary by Terry Gilliam, moderated by Phil Stubbs
- Savage: Finding The American Nightmare, an appreciation by film historian Ian Christie
- The Gonzo Papers, an interview with producer Laila Nabulsi
- Grim Memories & Bad Flashbacks, an interview with star Benicio del Toro
- Ignore This Terrible Drug: The Art and Style of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, a featurette including interviews with cinematographer Nicola Pecorini, production designer Alex McDowall, costume designer Julie Weiss and editor Lesley Walker
- Four deleted scenes with optional commentary by Gilliam, including the excised prologue A Dress Pattern
- Spotlight on Location, an original promotional featurette featuring interviews with Gilliam, Depp and del Toro
- Behind the scenes 'B-roll' footage and additional EPK interviews with Gilliam, Depp and del Toro
- Theatrical trailers and TV spots
- Extensive image galleries, including original production designs, storyboards and production stills
- Reversible sleeve featuring two artwork choices
- Illustrated collector's booklet featuring writing on the film by Roger Keen and original production notes
- Limited Edition slipcover featuring Ralph Steadman's classic illustration Bats Over Barstow
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
As we’ve covered Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas a few different times now on various formats, I don’t feel like I have a whole lot to add to the mix there. Gilliam’s insanely hilarious and darkly terrifying adaptation is an experience you’ll love or run away from screaming. I don’t think I’ve yet met anyone out there who is content to stick in the middle ground and say “It’s only okay.” For me, I love it, and a big reason why was how I first saw it.
At 16, my best friend in high school was one of those kids who read various notorious books to look edgy and cool, but it also led to some great movie-watching. I barely knew who Hunter S. Thompson was let alone what this movie was when I sat down to see it. All I knew was Gilbert Grape was in it. So with my friend I sat into the darkened mall theater that didn't care about I.D. checks so long as they got that salty, buttery popcorn cash. Holy hell was that an experience - and an addictive one at that! I’ve come back to the film (and the book) again and again over the years and it’s never lost its allure. As soon as Deep utters those first words “We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the drugs began to take hold…” and Hunter S. Thompson's cherry red convertible screeches across the screen - I’m all in for it.
I also feel like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a bit of a career marker for Gilliam. There are the movies that came before Fear and Loathing and there are the movies that came after. Before this film, Gilliam enjoyed immense success (well maybe not at the box office but critically) with films like The Fisher King, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Brazil, and 12 Monkeys. After… things have felt like a struggle. Not to say that he hasn’t made good films in those following years, I enjoyed Tideland and The Zero Theorem was pretty decent. However, it’s felt like he’s had to fight tooth and nail to get his films made. If tragedy didn’t take his leading man away, aerial bombardments would scuttle a production - and that was before studios and producers took their scissors to his work. You see edges of past brilliance but something seems to always come up that holds the film back from greatness.
Enough of my blithering - here are some different takes on Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas for you to consider:
Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
Arrow Video UK packs a well-stocked overnight bag for their single-disc 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray set. Pressed on a Region Free BD-100 disc, the disc is housed in a thick black case with reversible insert art and slipcover depicting the classic Ralph Steadman art. Also included is a forty-page booklet featuring cast and crew info, the Broken Dreams in Vegas essay by Roger Keen, with original production notes and restoration information.
As the restoration effort of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was a partnership effort between Arrow and Turbine with final approval by Terry Gilliam, it's a hell of a release. This film has seen some terrible discs and some pretty good releases over the years but this one leaves all of those behind at the dealership after speeding over a two-foot embankment backwards! Details are rich and crystal clear with naturally cinematic film grain retained. Some of the effects shots can be a tad noisier in that regard, but nothing so severe to distract or take you out of the moment. From the extreme closeups of Johnny Depp’s eyes to the wide-open Las Vegas deserts to the tortured and destroyed hotel suites, the image is immaculate and beautifully rendered in 4K. Facial features, costumes, clothing textures, production design, and all of the beautiful late 60s and early 70s cars look fantastic.
The Dolby Vision grade is also ace work. Black levels, whites, and the spectacular array of colors get careful attention. Primaries are striking without appearing blown out or too hot. Likewise, skin tones are healthy and accurate without being too peached or pinked. The deep blue skies and bright yellow desert and psychedelic imagery have never looked better. Black levels are spot on with deep inky blacks and impressive shadows - especially for the film’s darker scenes. Likewise, whites are bright and crisp without blooming or any trouble spots. Considering this was a partnership effort, I don’t see any difference between the Turbine or Arrow releases. I wish I had two side-by-side displays to run both discs at the same time but after adequate flipping between the two, I couldn’t spot any discrepancies. Even comparing bitrates, they’re virtually neck and neck. Between the two some of the peaks are a little higher, valleys a little lower - but that alternates between them. Ultimately the average range is almost bit-for-bit the same.
We can enjoy Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas in both DTS-HD MA 5.1 and DTS-HD MA 2.0. Considering the immersive nature of the film and as your attorney, I suggest you rent a flashy car with the top down and blast the 5.1 mix as loud as you can handle. Of course, I won’t be with you but if invited I would be hard-pressed to pass up the chance to watch it again! As soon as that cherry red convertible blasts through the desert and those howling screeching things that look like bats come swooping down and attacking the car - this film is a sonic delight. Would I have loved to hear an Atmos mix of this film? Sure - but I will not complain about what we have here. Not one bit. Dialog is clean and clear - at least that which you’re supposed to hear clearly - without any issue. The soundscape is expansive and full so there’s always a sense of space to the mix with plenty of activity to keep the channels working. For comparison's sake, I did roll the 2.0 track and it's pretty damn great too. It might roll better for viewers with a sound bar instead of a full theater set, but even with a different spread for imaging and element spacing, there's really nothing to complain about. I spent a good chunk of it with headphones listening to the film while writing the reviews and if you roll headsets while watching your flicks, it's a good mix.
On the bonus features front we have a nice assortment of new and old. Now, as expansive as this set of extras is, if you have the older Criterion Blu-ray, you’re going to want to hold onto it a piece because not all of their unique extras appeared here - namely their multiple commentaries. That said, you do pick up over an hour of new interviews with a great new commentary on top of some good archival pieces. Then you have the booklet materials to read through as well. All around a respectable set.
- Audio Commentary featuring Terry Gilliam moderated by Phil Stubbs
- Savage: Finding the American Nightmare with Ian Christie (HD 11:47)
- The Gonzo Papers with Laila Nabulsi (HD 19:50)
- Grim Memories and Bad Flashbacks with Benicio del Toro (HD 12:10)
- Ignore This Terrible Drug: Art and Style (HD 30:28)
- Deleted Scenes w/ Optional Commentary (4 Scenes SD 11:48 total)
- Electronic Press Kit:
- Spotlight on Location (SD 10:35)
- Behind the Scenes (SD 4:26)
- Interview with Terry Gilliam (SD 2:42)
- Interview with Johnny Depp (SD 4:58)
- Interview with Benicio del Toro (SD 00:33)
- Theatrical Trailers
- TV Spots
- Image Galleries
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a damn wild ride through the depths of depravity. From Oliver Stone to Martin Scorsese, many filmmakers tried to adapt Thompson’s novel - only one succeeded. With Gilliam in peak form, the film manages to deliver an incredible cinematic experience capturing the hilarious and terrifying extremes of the novel with Jonny Depp and Benicio del Toro giving everything they had in the tank.
Now the film is on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and with the added resolution, Dolby Vision HDR, and excellent audio, you can reexperience this film anew. Arrow delivers a greatdisc with a nice range of bonus features with more readable content within the included booklet. A worthwhile disc to import if you’re tired of waiting to see if Criterion will ever bring it stateside. Highly Recommended
Order your copy of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
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