Friday, February 17, 2012

¡Three Amigos! 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Review

¡Three Amigos! 25th Anniversary Edition features over 20 minutes of never-before-seen footage and a beautiful Blu-ray transfer overseen by director John Landis (Coming to America, Spies Like Us). Emmy Award winners Steve Martin (Roxanne), Chevy Chase (Fletch, Vacation) and Martin Short (Innerspace) star in Three Amigos, an uproarious comedy classic about three out of work silent movie actors who think they have stumbled upon the role of a lifetime.  In 1916, the notorious bandit El Guapo and his gang are terrorizing a remote Mexican village.  The daughter of the village leader, having seen a silent film featuring “The Three Amigos,” sends a telegram to the trio, believing them to be real heroes, asking them for help. Thinking they’re being offered a fortune for a personal appearance, the actors arrive in Mexico, only to discover they will be dodging real bullets!

Film (5 out of 5 stars) 

I love the Three Amigos and everyone in it.  Where else can you find a movie with psychoanalytic henchmen, singing bushes, invisible swordsmen who stand too close, a philosophical bad guy, and three bumbling actors that go from pretend heroes to accidental heroes.  With three comedians who were at the top of their game and a fantastic supporting cast, the Three Amigos is a comedy classic!  The movie was written by Steve Martin, Lorne Michaels, and Randy Newman and directed by John Landis, so this is movie is simply loaded with talent on both sides of  the camera. It’s 1916 and the three actors who make up the silent screen trio “The Three Amigos” Lucky Day (Steve Martin), Dusty Bottoms (Chevy Chase),and Ned Nederlander (Martin Short) are having a hard time.  Their last movie flopped since audiences didn’t want to see The Amigos go in a new direction and neither did the studio boss Harry Flugelman (Joe Mantegna).  Harry and his studio yes men (Phil Hatman and Jon Lovitz) had already decided to trim costs when the Amigos show up to demand a raise and more control over their pictures.  Unfortunately for them, they’ve picked the wrong day for their demands, and they are fired, kicked out of their studio owned mansion, and the clothes they are wearing repossessed by the wardrobe department.
Lucky is convinced that it happened for a reason and that their luck with change really soon, which it does when a telegram is delivered to them on the street.  The message is from a woman named Carmen (Patrice Martinez) asking them to come to Santo Poco which they assume means they are being hired for a promotional appearance.  Excited for a new opportunity, they break into the studio and steal their costumes before traveling to Santo Poco.  They know that someone named El Guapo will be involved but they mistakenly believe that he is a local celebrity that they will be working with.  What the Amigos don’t realize is that Carmen’s original message requested their help in stopping El Guapo and his band of mercenaries from terrorizing the town, but it was edited down because she didn’t have enough money to send the full message.  On their way to Santo Poco, the Amigos stop at a cantina where they are mistaken as associates of a dangerous German gunslinger who just shot a bunch of men for making fun of him before they arrived.  The cantina’s patrons are convinced that the Amigos are just as dangerous as the German so they play along when the Amigos do a song and dance show for the crowd.
Eventually Carmen shows up and takes the Amigos from the mystified crowd who can’t figure out why such dangerous men would come and sing and dance to “My Little Buttercup.”  The next morning when El Guapo’s men show up to the village, the Amigos treat it like a regular stunt show which only confuses the bandits who leave.  The townspeople believe that the Amigos won the day and there’s a big celebration and no one is aware of the impending danger, least of all the Amigos who just think they did a great show.  When El Guapo (Alfonso Arrau) shows up the next day with all of his men, determined to kill these strange gringos and remind the town who is in charge.  Thinking that this is just another show, the Amigos ride out to meet him and try to work out the show with him only to discover that this is all too real when Lucky is shot with a real bullet.  Realizing how much danger they are in, the three beg El Guapo to spare their lives and their groveling amuses him and disgusts the villagers. Saying that he only kills men, El Guapo tells them they are free to leave with their lives which they happily do. Unfortunately for the villagers, El Guapo decides to teach them a lesson for challenging him and destroys the town and kidnaps Carmen.
After waiting for El Guapo and his men to leave, the Amigos return to see the decimated village and they experience the scorn of the townspeople.  When they learn that Carmen was taken, Ned talks the others into actually becoming the heroes that they portray since they have nothing to lose.  It’s at this point that the movie kicks into overdrive, and becomes even more funny and surreal as the Amigos start their quest to find El Guapo by finding the singing bush and then reciting some command words that will summon an invisible swordsman who will take them to El Guapo’s base to rescue Carmen.  Now having to live up to their screen personas, the three bravely (and foolishly) take on El Guapo and all of his men in a hilarious finish!
Being a huge fan of all three of the main actors, especially Chevy Chase, I’ve always loved this movie.  There are so many good lines in this movie that are expertly delivered by Chase and company.  I think this movie was ahead of its time with this kind of humor and setup.  As Martin points out, Galaxy Quest basically stole the Three Amigos plot and just changed it to a sci-fi setting instead of a western and even more movies followed that took the same plot line. Even after all of this time, this movie just gets funnier every time I see it.  Every character is great – Martin’s know it all Lucky, the sarcastic Dusty, and the idealistic Ned are the perfect foils for each other.  El Guapo and his henchman Jefe are also so good that they almost steal the movie with their many discussions about age, psychology, and women.  This movie takes a silly turn towards the end of the movie complete with singing horses, friendly wildlife, and medium rare bats for dinner.  I always hoped that there would be a sequel to this but it sadly never happened thanks to fickle audiences.  If you’ve never seen this, then you should definitely check it out!

Video (4 1/2 out of 5 stars) 

If you are an owner of the previous DVD release of this movie, I’m willing to bet that like me, you weren’t too happy with the video quality.  I’m happy to say that this 1080p (1.85:1) transfer looks extremely good and is now the new standard for this movie.  Colors pop off the screen, whether it’s the Tuscon desert or a painted backdrop, this transfer shows off the varied hues to be found throughout.  Black levels are also excellent as is the textures, and this is the first time, I’ve seen the Amigo uniform look this good and dark.  Detail is also excellent which also allows you to notice the amount of work that went into making those uniforms.  This new transfer is reason enough to buy this Blu-ray release!

Audio (4 out of 5 stars) 

Another reason to upgrade to Blu-ray is this new DTS-HD Master Audio mix which is a far cry better than the previous stereo release.  This is mainly a front channel mix but the other channels also come into play when needed. Dialogue is crystal clear as are the wonderful songs that the Amigos sing.  Elmer Bernstein’s playful tweaking of his own Magnificent Seven score also sounds great here and is never overshadowed by the effects.  This is an excellent lossless mix that easily trumps the earlier release’s quality.

Special Features (4 out of 5 stars) 

I was ecstatic when I heard that this Blu-ray edition would come with extras and they didn’t disappoint other than I wanted even more.  While the cast interview is in standard definition, the deleted scenes are all in high definition.
  • Cast Interview – A fun but short interview with the cast after filming was over where they talk about working on the movie and what they were working on at the time (it was filmed in 1986).  I wish this had been longer and it’s disappointing that the interviewer wasted his opportunity to really interview these comedy greats. Even though this is just over five minutes long, their interaction between each other is very funny and it’s a shame that more wasn’t done.  Martin even mentions that he hopes they can do a sequel which would have been awesome.  This footage hasn’t been improved upon at all so it looks a little rough but I’m just glad it was included.
  • Deleted Scenes – Director John Landis introduces these deleted scenes with an onscreen statement that all of the original deletions have been lost and the only reason they have these deleted scenes are because the footage was found an an exhibitor print made before the studio made their own cuts to the film.  Since Landis was in court at the time (due to the Twilight Zone accidental deaths),  the studio removed several scenes from the movie that include: a scene with the Amigos in their studio owned mansion before they visit Flugelman, their journey through the studio backlot on the way there, an alternate opening sequence to the movie that shows El Guapo terrorize the town of Santo Poco, and two extended bits that include more Dusty and El Guapo.  All together it’s almost twenty minutes of extra footage that really gives the movie a different feel.
  • ¡Amigos Reunited! Reproduction - This is an extra that I hope more studios start doing since this is a reproduction of the June 2011 Empire Magazine that reunited all of the Amigos along with Landis and others. We get vintage and recent pictures of the cast together again (with sombreros from Short’s cousin tribute Amigos group) as well as a new interview with all of them.  I loved getting this included but I wish someone had filmed it all since that would have been even better to include on the Blu-ray.

Final Thoughts (4 1/2 out of 5 stars) 

This movie is a classic hands down.  I’ve been singing “Blue Shadow” to myself since I watched this movie a week ago.  If you are a fan of Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Martin Short as a group or individually, then you are guaranteed to love this movie.  It’s a real shame that it didn’t do better at the box office since it should have been a huge hit and spawned sequels, instead of a bunch of copycat movies.  The movie has also never looked or sounded better than this new Blu-ray so take my advise and click on the link below and thank me later!
Order your copy today!

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