Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood – Blu-ray Review

Once Upon a Time in... Hollywood

When I originally reviewed the film back in August, I gave it a mediocre review. Upon several viewings, my thoughts on the film have changed for the better. It should be said that Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood is not your typical Tarantino film. The film actually spends a lot of time establishing characters by having them live their Hollywood lives. This, in turn, gives us a look at what life was like for actors during the “Golden Age of Hollywood.” That’s basically the commonality between the three characters. There isn’t a continuing story thread that connects everyone together. Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood is primarily a celebration of Hollywood.

But a lot of it is mundane everyday life stuff… Every day if you’re an actor, that is. Rick Dalton is living his life as a washed-up actor while Cliff Booth is busy being his “driver.” Then there’s Sharon Tate, who was a shooting star in Hollywood at the time. It’s nice to see how three different career trajectories are playing out during this time.

Nevertheless, it may not seem like it but all of these storylines eventually do come together in the final 15-20 minutes of the film. It’s in these final minutes that Tarantino goes full Tarantino. If you’re even remotely aware of what happens in the Manson murders then you’ll get a sense of what’s about to go down. However, this is the Tarantino universe and history might not go as it did in real life. The message Tarantino is trying to send with this shift in history is indicative of how he feels about Hollywood. To him, the “Golden Age of Hollywood” never ended with the death of Sharon Tate. Instead, it’s still ongoing.

This is why the film ends so abruptly. You wish that the film went on and why wouldn’t you? Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, and Margot Robbie show us why they’re three of the best actors working in Hollywood today. This is especially true for Leonardo DiCaprio. His performance has so many layers to it. He’s an incredible actor performing like a bad actor who’s trying to overact his way back to stardom. The layers are so distinct. Both Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie both play their usual selves through most of the film. However, there are certain moments that really showcase their acting prowess.

Overall, Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood is a hilarious and heartfelt homage to the “Golden Age of Hollywood”. Although it’s not as action-packed as his previous films, the film is able to showcase the acting prowess of its stellar cast. It’s a refreshing turn for the prolific director.

Movie Rating: 4.5/5 atoms

Video

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood - Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt

Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood hits Blu-ray (see it on Amazon) with a 1080p MPEG-AVC with a 2.40:1 aspect ratio. The picture’s medium-high contrast gives some nice depth to it. The contrast also provides a nice brightness to the picture. Amazingly enough, there’s no bloom in these bright areas either. Unfortunately, the dark areas are more of a lighter shade of black with a lot of details lost in these areas. Fortunately, most of the film takes place during the day so it’s not that big of an issue.

When it comes to the colors, they jump off the screen—especially the reds. As good as all of this sounds, the detail clarity is really good. The picture and edge details are sharp and distinct. Overall, the picture in this release looks great.

Video Rating: 4.5/5 atoms

Audio

Once Upon a Time in... Hollywood - Margot Robbie

Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood hits Blu-ray with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. The audio mix for Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood is so fun and incredibly immersive. Although there’s a small sample of sound dynamically moving across the sound stage, it’s the placement of sound that immerses you in the scene. You can especially hear it in the Bruin Theater scene since it sounds as if you’re in the theater too. The sound is very dated and it sounds as if you’re in a cocoon.

The atmospherics are distinct as well—notably the scene set at Spahn Movie Ranch. There you can clearly hear the swirling winds. Also, the film’s soundtrack envelops you from all sides. Despite all this activity in the sound stage, the dialogue is still the primary focus of the entire mix. After all, this is a very dialogue-heavy movie. Overall, this an excellent audio mix.

Audio Rating: 5/5 atoms

Special Features

Once Upon a Time in... Hollywood - Leonardo DiCaprio

Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood has the following special features on the Blu-ray disc:

  • Additional Scenes
    • Old Chattanooga Beer Commercial, Circa 1969
    • Red Apple Commercial, Circa 1969
    • Hullabaloo – Rick Dalton Sings “Green Door”
    • Bounty Law
    • Lancer – The Meeting of Two Brothers
    • Charlie Talks to Paul Barabuta and Waves to Cliff
    • Rick Dalton and Sam Wanamaker Talk on Set
  • Quentin Tarantino’s Love Letter to Hollywood
  • Bob Richardson – For the Love of Film
  • Shop Talk – The Cars of 1969
  • Restoring Hollywood – The Production Design of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • The Fashion of 1969

The special features list may not seem like a lot, but it has a lot of great behind-the-scenes featurettes. The additional scenes features a lot of fun extended and deleted scenes from the film. These include a lot of scenes featuring the late Luke Perry, Michael Madsen, and it also includes more of Charles Manson too. Also, it has a lot of the unused commercials for Old Chattanooga and Red Apple which are amazing in their own right. “Love Letter” is a featurette that’s not really that informative or entertaining. The featurette primarily talks about Tarantino’s memory and his love of Hollywood and Los Angeles.

On the other hand, the rest of the featurettes are so informative and fascinating to watch. Quentin Tarantino is such a meticulous filmmaker“Bob Richardson” is such a fascinating featurette because it features cinematographer Bob Richardson dropping a lot of knowledge about filming Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood. Similarly, “Shop Talk” breaks down a ton of the classic cars used in the film. Steven Butcher talks in-depth about why they chose certain cars in the film and how they recreated some cars just for the film. “Restoring Hollywood” is another compelling featurette as production designer Barbara Ling breaks down a majority of the different locations in the film. Lastly, costume designer Arianne Phillips explains all of the difficulties of creating costumes for such a wide array of characters.

Special Features Rating: 4/5 atoms


Overall, Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood is a sweet love letter to the olden days of Hollywood. It’s not your typical Tarantino film and that’s what makes it so refreshingly good. It’s also the kind of film that gets better the more you watch the film. The picture, audio mix, and special features are all excellent. This is a great all-in-one package.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5 atoms

This Blu-ray was reviewed using a retail/advance copy/unit provided by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

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Mark Pacis
Mark Pacis 1575 posts

Self-proclaimed "Human IMDb" and comic book geek. Biggest Iron Man fan you'll probably ever meet.