Weird Science Review

Weird Science Review

Gary Wallace (Anthony Michael Hall) and Wyatt Donnelly (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) are geeks. They want to get with girls, but being geeks who have no self-esteem and who like horror films - such as Frankenstein and The Bride of Frankenstein - they are unable to do so. Therefore, taking props from their favourite James Whale classics, they decide to ‘create’ a woman... using Wyatt’s home computer.

When the ‘virtual’ woman they hoped to create becomes real, in the form of Lisa (Kelly LeBrock), she magically guides the boys through a weekend of discovery, helps them to beat the bullies Ian (Robert Downey Jr.) and Max (Robert Rusler), and Wyatt’s army obsessed brother Chet (Bill Paxton), and by the end of it all, the two hope to find love and themselves.

Weird Science falls into the same John Hughes camp for me as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off; these are live action comic books. They don’t reflect real life or even try to. Yes, the characters in John Hughes films may reflect teenagers of the time better than some other comedies did, but the ‘real life’ of Sixteen Candles or Pretty in Pink or The Breakfast Club to me ring false. Not to say I dislike them, I don’t, but I like the fantastical world that Weird Science brings to the table a lot more.

It still remains a favourite Hughes film and it may be nostalgia talking but I feel it should be watched through the eyes of ‘the time it was made’ rather than through revisionist eyes that everything seems to be viewed through these days. For one thing, Hughes’ films were infused with the politics of the time, and they aimed to do something different to other teen sex comedies but were, for the most part, honest and talked to teens of the era. It happens too much these days, that we want to tear down the art that made us who we are today because they aren’t ‘politically correct’ now. I just want to enjoy Weird Science, from Anthony Michael Hall's drunk acting as Gary to his Dad Al (Britt Leach) and Lisa screaming at each other in the living room. Also worth mentioning is the mutant biker outfit featuring actors that I was giddy about in the mid 80s -Michael Berryman (who I knew from Motley Crue videos) and Vernon Wells, pretty much reprising his Mad Max 2 character.

John Hughes was at his height of success when he made Weird Science, coming off the success of The Breakfast Club. It is a fun 80s wish fulfilment film, featuring game performances from the likeable leads and LeBrock’s headstrong Lisa. They are up against memorable bulllies played by Vamp’s Rusler and an early performance Downey Jr. There also is a great performance from the late Bill Paxton as big brother Chet, some wonderful Craig Reardon special effects, a highly quotable script and it all comes to HD in a fine 4K restoration thanks to Arrow Video.

Weird Science may not be for everyone. It is a product of the 80s and a lot of the ideas and technology involved makes it feel very much of its time, but everyone involved is clearly having fun. Now roll on Arrow (or Criterion) - release the other John Hughes films in a similarly lavish fashion, starting with Ferris Bueller please.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

New restoration by Arrow Films from a 4K scan of the original negative - This restoration looks great and the film the best it has ever looked. There are two High Definition (1080p) presentations. Firstly, the original Theatrical Version of the film (94 mins), plus a seamlessly-branched exclusive Extended Version (97 mins), featuring two additional scenes newly remastered in high-definition. Original lossless stereo audio, plus 5.1 DTS-HD MA surround option (theatrical version only) - This isn't going to knock your socks off, performance wise but, again, probably the best that this film will ever sound.

Original English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing and Edited-for-TV version of the film (SD only, 94 mins), plus a comparison featurette highlighting the alternate dubs and edits - Some of these edits are pretty funny, and hark back to an era where a lot more edited to TV films existed. Option to watch additional scenes from the Extended Version separately - A nice feature, imo the theatrical version is the best option to watch all the way through.

Casting ‘Weird Science’, an all-new interview with casting director Jackie Burch - One of the best features of this new disc is the interview with Jackie Burch. She doesn't appear onscreen her narration is played over the top of images from the film, she discusses her role in casting and the actors chosen. Interestingly, when she talks about Robert Downey Jr, she makes mention that despite being the person that pretty much got his career rolling, when she worked with him on Iron Man 3 many years later, he did not remember her.

Dino The Greek, a newly-filmed interview with supporting actor John Kapelos - John Kapelos' reminisces about the small role he played in the film, as well as his thoughts on Hughes. Chet Happens, a newly filmed interview with special makeup creator Craig Reardon - Reardon's interview is another highlight, where he goes into depth about creating the Chet monster, and how the work on this film still holds a sweet spot in his heart. It's insightful to hear how producer Joel Silver wasn't the nicest of people in keeping to his word. Fantasy and Microchips, a newly filmed interview with editor Chris Lebenzon - Editor Chris Lebenzon talks about his involvement and how it led to other exciting opportunities.

Ira Newborn Makes The Score, a newly filmed interview with the composer - Newborn talks with great affection about creating the score and how much Director Hughes knew about music. It’s Alive! Resurrecting Weird Science, an archive documentary featuring interviews with cast, crew and admirers, including star Anthony Michael Hall - This is an archival piece from a previous DVD release. It highlights points not covered in the other featurettes, and makes it noticeable which interviewees don't love the film.

Also included: Theatrical trailers, TV spots and radio spots, image galleries, BD-ROM: PDF of the original shooting script and a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tracie Ching. FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas and Amanda Reyes - critique of the film from the standpoint of two female writers is interesting as they defend it and discuss the links to the EC comics from the 50s.

Weird Science is released on Blu-ray 22nd July 2019

Film
8 out of 10
Video
8 out of 10
Audio
7 out of 10
Extras
8 out of 10
Overall

Weird Science is a product of the 80s and a lot of the ideas and technology involved makes it feel very much of its time; a live action comic book which everyone involved plays for fun.

8

out of 10

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