Blu-ray Review: ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ 25th Anniversary Edition

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The traditional animation and live-action hybrid "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" comes out on a digitally remastered package dubbed as its 25th Anniversary Edition. This combo offering houses this 1988 film's Blu-ray and DVD copies, along with a variety of extras. Director Robert Zemeckis and executive producers Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy join forces in making this nutty, riotous sendup to 1940s Hollywood noir, which is based on Gary K. Wolf's "Who Censored Roger Rabbit?" The cast includes Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd, Joel Silver, Joanna Cassidy, Kathleen Turner, and April Winchell.

The story highlights the adventures of an animated rabbit finding himself framed for murder and the detective who tries to help him clear his name. A critical and commercial success, this innovative and wildly funny piece won Oscars for Best Film Editing, Best Sound Effects Editing, and Best Visual Effects. It also received an Academy Award Special Achievement in Animation Direction.

Visuals

This unique and enjoyable picture offers enough filmmaking nostalgia and Hollywood merriment, regardless of the fact that its age and format feature some limitations in technology. In terms of suspension of disbelief, its blend of animated and live-action elements doesn't hinder the storytelling. The transfer job may pose its own set of challenges, but the prevailing issues and inherent flaws of the source material don't necessarily pull down the film's quality. The story's magic, drama, and zaniness remain intact. Except for some uneven but forgivable visual oddities, the imperfect but faithful encoding shows no extreme signs of wear and tear and other serious oddities.

Audio

This disc offering sports a five-channel lossless track, as well as alternative dubbed tracks: one a five-channel mix in French and the other a stereo mix in Russian. The cartoon-inspired effects, environmental sounds, and musical score provide reasonable depth and punch for an adequately immersive experience. The presentation is free from hissing, clipping, and other crucial age-related problems.

Although a bit too front-heavy than what modern audiophiles are accustomed to, the mix remains playful and proficient for the story's needs. At times, dialogue sounds a bit tinny and inconsistent or suffering from ADR issues and muffled parts. Nevertheless, most lines come across as decently clear and easy to understand.

Supplements

The package delivers a wealth of fan-pleasing supplements for the main feature. The text-based fact and trivia track "Toontown Confidential" and the audio commentary track by director Robert Zemeckis, producer Frank Marshall, associate producer Steve Starkey, visual effects supervisor Ken Ralston and co-writers Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman are available for playback while watching the film. The digitally restored Roger Rabbit shorts "Tummy Trouble," "Roller Coaster Rabbit," and "Trail Mix-Up," the documentary "Behind the Ears," the raw production-to-final shot comparison of selected scenes in "Before and After," the deleted footage called "Pig Head Sequence," and the behind-the-scene featurettes "Who Made Roger Rabbit," Toon Stand-Ins," and "On Set!" complete this disc edition's bonus materials. Subtitle options are available in English SDH, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Russian.

Final Thoughts

"Who Framed Roger Rabbit" works both as a celebration and satire of the Hollywood studio system. Even after 25 years, it still holds up well as an irreverent, entertaining mash-up of traditional animation, classic noir, and Hollywood allure. This Blu-ray offering holds a dated but ironically timeless cinema treasure that allows the viewers to look back into the film's rare gathering of dozens of Golden Age animation icons from rival studios, as well as its passionate ode to the craft.

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