The Bodyguard Blu-ray ReviewMarch 26, 2012
The Bodyguard's release on Blu-ray this week seems a strangely-fitting way to close the book on the weeks-long epilogue on the life of its star, Whitney Houston.
Like the accounts of the actress-singer's death, reaction to the film has been mixed at best over the course of its 19-year existence. It's a film that's stuck in a veritable netherworld. It's not terrible, but it's not really all that great, either.
Singer and Oscar-nominated actress Rachel Marron (Houston) begins receiving threats against her life from a stalker. Former Secret Service agent Frank Farmer (Kevin Costner) is hired to run her security detail. As the film progresses, it becomes clearer and clearer that the threat is coming from someone within Marron's inner circle.
All the while, a romance between Rachel and Frank develops (sort of) which simultaneously forces Marron to drop her paparazzi-induced guard while producing the all-too-familiar conflict between love and responsibility within the stoic Farmer.
The movie derives most of its tension and intrigue from the relationship between Houston and Costner, who do an amicable job with the script they've been handed.
Costner managed to reach beyond the typical everyman roles he pulled down at the time the film was made. He seems to be channeling some of the leftover juice had had in his turn in Oliver Stone's JFK. As for Houston, the late songstress turned in a perfectly passable performance, even though her work screams of someone who was by no means accustomed to starring in a major motion picture.
Written by screenwriting legend Lawrence Kasdan (The Empire Strikes Back, Body Heat), the movie has the potential for plenty of mystery but fails to capitalize most of it. Generally, the script comes across as a fairly pedestrian affair, stemming mostly from the fact that, prior to its production, had been sitting on the backburner for quite some time.
It was clearly written during a time when Kasdan was still cutting his screenwriting teeth, so to speak, and it seems that little was done to polish it before the cameras started rolling. Kasdan fails to get the most out of the "who done it" aspects of the story.
Director Mick Johnson's pacing is a little on the slow side, but, again, that has more to do with missteps on the script's part than anything else.
To be honest, without Houston's recent death, it's more than likely that this film would have been more or less relegated to the legacy of Houston's hit single from the film's soundtrack, her iconic cover of Dolly Parton's 'I Will Always Love you': The 'My Heart Will Go On' of its time - the song you couldn't have escaped no matter how hard you tried (and I tried pretty hard, by god).
And ultimately that is the source of what will allow this movie to sustain itself through time. Houston, regardless of whether or not she could make the audience suspend its disbelief for a couple hours, is the sole reason this movie will remain part of the public lexicon for decades to come.
It's not the most shining legacy for a film to have, but in the "here today, gone ten minutes after today" world of modern media, a legacy's a legacy.
Warner Bros. brings The Bodyguard to Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC-encoded transfer that's lacking at best. It's by no means the worst transfer I've ever seen, but it's honestly not a lot better than what you'd get from a DVD. Many of the visuals come across as murky, and many images tend to be poorly-defined at best. Black levels are atrocious at some points, and the noise level is borderline inexcusable for a high-def transfer.
The audio fares much better, with the disc sporting a 5.1 DTS Master Audio track. The music which, as mentioned, is one of the most iconic elements of an otherwise forgettable film finds new life in its lossless presentation. Many of the background and ambient noises are well-treated as well. Dialogue is clean and crisp, even in the film's many crowd scenes - a testament to what was obviously a bit of extra work put in on the part of the sound department.
Beyond the Feature
There's not much to speak about in the extras department. It might be the cynic in me speaking, but I imagine that if this disc had been put together after Houston's death we might see a bit more.
The making-of documentary, 'Memories of the Bodyguard' (26 minutes and change), features some interesting insights and introspective remarks from all parties involved and presents an all-around satisfying look at the making of the movie.
The only other features, though, are the video for the film's signature song (4:36) and the theatrical trailer (1:57).
All bonus features are presented in standard definition.
At the end of the day, The Bodyguard should be little more than a speed bump on the road map of cinematic history.
As it is, recent events and an iconic song have granted it a place in that great movie pantheon in the sky.
Having said that, this Blu-ray release hasn't exactly earned the same distinction.
- Jason Jarman
Shop for The Bodyguard on Blu-ray for a discounted price at Amazon.com (March 27, 2012 release date).
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