Vanilla Sky is probably my favorite movie from Cameron Crowe, or at least one that hit more of an emotional core, although I also loved Almost Famous. The performance by Tom Cruise might not be his best but he’s in his element as is Penelope Cruz.
Genre(s): Drama, Romance, Suspense
Paramount| R – 136 min. – $24.99 | November 16, 2021
Date Published: 11/13/2021 | Author: The Movieman
Paramount provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post.
The opinions I share are my own.
THE MOVIE — 4½/5
Plot Synopsis: Vanilla Sky is the story of a young New York City publishing magnate (TOM CRUISE) who finds himself on an unexpected roller-coaster ride of romance, comedy, suspicion, love, sex and dreams in a mind-bending search for his soul.
Quick Hit Review: When it was released in 2001, Vanilla Sky was quite the divisive movie with a love it or hate it, not so many called it average. I came down on the former and upon multiple viewings over these 20 years (probably at least five), this is one that has held up and still think it’s great today (as a note, I rated this as my favorite of 2001). While it didn’t have a profound emotional feeling compared with Lost in Translation (top 10 favorite), this is still one that had me captured from the first amazing scene, a unique one shot in an empty Times Square, to the finale and a nice twist.
The film works for many reasons. For one, the direction from Cameron Crowe, alongside cinematographer John Toll (The Thin Red Line, The Last Samurai, Almost Famous), gives the film an almost haunting look, particularly for the second half (won’t spoil why here). The aforementioned Times Square sequence looks great but there are some striking scenes that were wonderfully done, and the tenderer, quieter scenes, were done quite nicely as well (that includes an important one with Tom Cruise and Penelope Cruz, providing the primary crutch for the entire picture).
Beyond Crowe’s great direction, the performances all around was wonderful including Tom Cruise (who has worked so well with Crowe as seen in Jerry Maguire), Penelope Cruz (star of the Spanish original, Abre Los Ojos), Cameron Diaz playing too well as a psycho and Kurt Russell as a psychiatrist. Not to be forgotten, Jason Lee also re-teams with Crowe following Almost Famous and Timothy Spall playing a loyal friend and company lawyer.
Vanilla Sky is an all around well done psychological-thriller that has held up since its release 20 years ago.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 4/5
This is the second time Vanilla Sky has been released on Blu-ray (at least in North America), following one in 2015 by Warner Bros. Apparently the rights came back to Paramount (probably part of a deal with Warner) and gets a new release through the Paramount Presents line (#27), which comes with a front fold-out slip cover and inside a redemption code for the Digital HD copy.
All of the features except for the “Alternate Ending Version” cut of the film, although that is available to view separately. And personally, having watched that version, I’d stick with the Theatrical Cut anyway.
Filmmaker Focus (8:54) is a new interview with Cameron Crowe, likely recorded at the same time for the one he did for Almost Famous, where he discusses how the film came to be and short anecdotes such as shooting the Times Square scene.
Audio Commentary — Writer/Director Cameron Crowe and Producer Nancy Wilson
Alternate Ending (29:45) — The end result is the same but just adds some extra moments. Worth checking out, but nothing substantial. There is an optional commentary with Crowe.
Prelude to a Dream (6:13) — This has some behind-the-scenes and rehearsal footage.
Hitting it Hard (10:04) — Footage of the Vanilla Sky press tour.
Interview with Paul McCartney (1:34) — Short interview of McCartney who wrote the title song.
Gag Reel (5:27) filled with line-flubs and general tom-foolery.
Music Video (3:57) — “Afrika Shox” by Leftfield/Afrika Bambaataa
Photo Gallery with optional audio intro by photographer Neal Preston
Mask Test (3:23) shows some test footage of the white mask in different lighting. Includes optional commentary by Crowe.
Kurt Russell Single Take (6:08) is some footage of the actor giving a one take during the finale. Includes optional commentary by Crowe.
Trailers include the Unreleased Teaser Trailer (1:41) and the International Trailer (2:49).
Deleted Scenes (34:16) — 10 scenes that didn’t make the final cut. Includes optional commentary by Crowe.
VIDEO – 4½/5
|Vanilla Sky comes to Blu-ray through Paramount and is presented with a 1.78 widescreen aspect ratio and a 1080p high-definition transfer which was taken from a new 4K scan, supervised by Cameron Crowe. Without doing a direct comparison with the 2015 release, I thought this one looked great with sharp detail throughout and colors well balanced, although, and this might’ve been on purpose, looked a tad washed out in the final scene. Even so, I did not notice any obvious signs of aliasing or artifacting and the film itself appeared clean, free of dust marks or scratches.|
AUDIO – 4¼/5
|The disc comes with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. Presumably this is the same one from the ‘old’ release but even so, it’s a perfectly adequate lossless track. Dialogue comes across with good clarity and there is some fine depth with the score, eclectic soundtrack and some of the weirder side-chatter during some key scenes.|
OVERALL – 4½/5
Overall, Vanilla Sky is probably my favorite movie from Cameron Crowe, or at least one that hit more of an emotional core, although I also loved Almost Famous. The performance by Tom Cruise might not be his best (that would go to Magnolia) but he’s in his element as is Penelope Cruz. This Blu-ray release under the Paramount Presents line offers a fair amount of features (majority ported over from previous releases) and solid video and audio transfers.
Check out some more 1080p screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.