Vanilla Sky – Blu-ray Review

Vanilla Sky

Based on a 1997 Spanish film, Abre Los OjosVanilla Sky is an incredibly dull and pretentious movie that repeatedly shoehorns symbolism and allegories any chance it gets. Not to mention, the film attempts to become overly artsy with its surrealistic scenes. Yet, the most egregious aspect of the film includes the expectation that audiences will empathize with the unlikeable and shallow David Aames (Tom Cruise). To make things worse, he doesn’t become less of a douche as the film progresses. 

To top it off, Vanilla Sky tries to piece together a convoluted mind-bending story. Before it’s through, the movie will introduce murder charges, identity-switching, and miracle surgeries into the film. As a result, it becomes challenging for the audience to follow along and stay engaged. Once the finale arrives, it’s anti-climactic because the movie ends with a 20-minute epilogue where all of the film’s events are over-explained. Also, it doesn’t help that the plot twist itself is unsatisfactory.

It just goes to show that Cameron Crowe is more equipped to direct a lighthearted mainstream drama than Vanilla Sky‘s artistic, psychological approach. Since this is Cameron Crowe we’re talking about, it only makes sense that I describe his role in terms of music. With Almost Famous and Jerry Maguire, Crowe tapped into something personal to create something original. Just like any band. However, with Vanilla Sky, Crowe is simply just putting his personal touch on something already made. In other words, he’s making a cover song. Like most cover songs, this flick doesn’t quite hit the same level as the original.

Overall, Vanilla Sky is an overly long and complex film that doesn’t stick the landing. It’s commendable that Cameron Crowe wants to create something that he’s not used to, but he probably should’ve stuck with material he connects with.

Movie Rating: 2.5/5 atoms

Vanilla Sky - Cameron Diaz

Video

Vanilla Sky hits Blu-ray with a 1080p MPEG-AVC with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The first Blu-ray release of Vanilla Sky came from an old master and featured some artificial enhancements. However, this Paramount Presents release features a beautiful, brand new 4K restoration of the film supervised by director Cameron Crowe. First off, the whites are vibrant, and the blacks are rich. Thus, the details, patterns, and texture shine through in all areas, be it a nighttime or daytime scene. Luckily, there’s no crushing or blooming found here. 

With the colors, they have a nice, bold fullness to them. Not to mention, the rustic palette looks natural and feels almost fall-like. Details are beautifully presented, whether it’s the disfigured facial features or prosthetics. This new restoration looks much more filmic with a healthy level of grain to go along with some natural-looking depth.

Video Rating: 4.5/5 atoms

Vanilla Sky - Kurt Russell

Audio

Vanilla Sky hits Blu-ray with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. The audio mix is not an upgrade from the 2017 Blu-ray release, but it’s nevertheless a crisp-sounding mix with some immersion. It’s not surprising since Vanilla Sky is a dialogue-heavy flick, but it does have some sound design. Panning effects are accurate and effective in some of the film’s weightier moments, such as cars swinging around or characters going by. At the same time, the surround channels present some excellent ambiance for scenes that call for it. However, much of the mix’s action comes from Nancy Wilson’s score and the film’s soundtrack. The score has some great layering and depth. Also, the soundtrack in the movie sounds full and complements the accompanying atmospheric effects. 

Audio Rating: 4.5/5 atoms

Vanilla Sky - Penelope Cruz and Tom Cruise

Special Features

Vanilla Sky‘s Blu-ray disc has the following special features on Blu-ray disc:

  • Audio Commentary by Cameron Crowe and Nancy Wilson
  • Filmmaker Focus: Cameron Crowe on Vanilla Sky
  • Alternate Ending with Optional Commentary by Cameron Crowe
  • Prelude to a Dream
  • Hitting it Hard
  • An Interview with Paul McCartney
  • Gag Reel
  • Music Video “Afrika Show” by Leftfield/Afrika Bambaataa
  • Photo Gallery with Audio Introduction by Photographer Neal Preston with Audio Introduction by Photographer Neal Preston
  • Mask Test with Optional Commentary by Cameron Crowe
  • Kurt Russell Single Take with Optional Commentary by Cameron Crowe
  • Trailers
    • Unreleased Teaser Trailer
    • International Trailer
  • Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Cameron Crowe
    • Be Real
    • Two Daughters
    • Career Advice
    • Dog Porno
    • eBooks
    • Great Sex
    • He Gets it All
    • Livin’ the Dream
    • The Pleasure of Sofia
    • Memorial
    • Attention to Detail (Production Audio)
    • “Fix Your Face” Jump (Production Audio)
    • L.E. Infomercial (Production Audio)
  • Credits
Features Assessment

This commentary should really be called Cameron Crowe with appearances by Nancy Wilson. As you can imagine, it’s because Crowe does most of the talk throughout while Wilson just makes an occasional comment once in a while. If you were confused by the film, then listening to this will help you figure out what’s going on. “Filmmaker Focus” is an exclusive “Paramount Presents” featurette where the film’s director provides a retrospective on the classics they created. Crowe breaks down a lot of the production and the film’s legacy.

The Alternate Ending is a reconstruction of the original ending of the film. Crowe states that the original cut of it was so confusing for test audiences that they decided to go with something more mainstream. Prelude to a Dream is Crowe’s introduction to the film. Also, Hitting it Hard takes a look at the international press tour of the film. The Paul McCartney feature is from his interview with Entertainment Tonight, where he talks about the creation of Vanilla Sky‘s theme song. 

The Mask Test highlights the painstaking process of finding the right mask for Tom Cruise’s character. Single Take showcases the stellar, raw performance of Kurt Russell during one of the most pivotal scenes in the film—at least for Russell’s Dr. McCabe. As for the deleted scenes, many of them are alternate versions of scenes already in the theatrical cut. However, there are a few scenes like Two Daughters that are different. Finally, the gag reel, trailers, photo gallery, and music video are self-explanatory and entirely skippable.

Special Features Rating: 4.5/5 atoms


Overall, Vanilla Sky is a unique sci-fi psychological thriller that doesn’t quite hit the landing. Finally, there is a Blu-ray that finally has a presentation worthy for fans of the film. The video restoration is superb, and the audio presentation and bonus features (although holdovers from the previous release) are still stellar.

Overall Rating: 4/5 atoms

Vanilla Sky is now available in stores on Blu-ray.

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

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