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Paramount Home Video presents
The Two Jakes: Special Collector's Edition (1990)

"You can't trust a guy who's never lost anything."
- Jake Gittes (Jack Nicholson)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga   
Published: November 05, 2007

Stars: Jack Nicholson
Other Stars: Harvey Keitel, Meg Tilly, Madeleine Stowe, Eli Wallach, Ruben Blades, Frederic Forrest, David Keith, Richard Farnsworth
Director: Jack Nicholson

MPAA Rating: R for (adult language, violence)
Run Time: 02h:17m:24s
Release Date: November 06, 2007
UPC: 097361309743
Genre: film noir

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B-A-C+ C-

DVD Review

Some films are considered to be such untouchable classics, that one would never dream of making or a sequel to them; 1974's Chinatown is a prime example. This masterpiece brought the film noir genre back into the mainstream during an era when American cinema was at a new peak. For a sequel to that classic to have any chance of working, however, it's star, Jack Nicholson, would have to play a large part in it. When this 1990 film, The Two Jakes, came about, Nicholson not only signed on to reprise his role as private investigator Jake Gittes, but he also took over the directing duties from Roman Polanski. Unfortunately, the result is a slow-paced confusing continuation of an unforgettable story that most critics felt never should have been attempted.

Jake Gittes is enjoying a booming business but is still haunted by the death of Evelyn Mulwray. His latest client is Jake Berman (Harvey Keitel), who suspects his wife, Kitty (Meg Tilly), is having an affair. Gittes' surveillance plans go awry, and Berman shoots his wife's lover. This puts Gittes right in the middle of a police investigation led by Lt. Loach (David Keith), along the way involving Lillian Bodine (Madeline Stowe), the wife of the dead man, along with her attorney, Chuck Newty (Frederic Forrest). As information is gathered and secrets are discovered, Gittes' past comes to the fore as he is confronted with choices he never thought he'd have to make.

Despite the uneven and languid pacing, this is still a solid effort from Nicholsonas both the director and actor. While he's not as gripping and doesn't seem as enthused to be playing Jake Gittes this time, he brings enough of what we remember of the character back for a second go-round. It's obvious that Gittes comes naturally to Jack, with such comfort rubbing off on the audience and making their overall viewing experience a more pleasant one. Behind the camera, Nicholson is a different story. Previous to this, he had only directed one film, Goin' South, and never even comes close to capturing the same classic noir sense that Polanski had pulled off so brilliantly with the original film.

The rest of the cast is unsurprisingly upstaged by Nicholson at every turn, but a few of the players give noteworthy performances. Keitel is good as the second Berman and Tilly is at her understated best, but Stowe, who was in the midst of a career-making year (Revenge was also released in 1990), does some unforgettable work as a recently widowed femme fatale. A trio of veteran character actors shines during their limited screen time as well; Frederic Forrest, Eli Wallach, and Richard Farnsworth show the same professionalism they've exhibited throughout their respective careers.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: This new, 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation is one of the better-looking I've seen in quite a while on standard DVD. The colors are the most impressive aspect, with bright, vivid hues washing the screen, and a vibrancy that never succumbs to bleeding or other flaws. The images are sharp and very detailed, with good shadow and black levels throughout. There's a bit of dirt and grain during the opening Paramount logo, but that's about it.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, French, Spanishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Both the original 2.0 audio and a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix are available, and, while mostly similar, there's a bit more depth and bass presence in the latter. This film relies heavily on dialogue over audio effects, and both tracks feature crystal clear line delivery when it comes to that element.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Music/Song Access with 14 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Documentaries
Packaging: Keep Case
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: For a "Special Collector's Edition" this disc is light on supplements. In fact, there are only two, a grainy, theatrical trailer and a making-of piece Jack on Jakes. Fortunately, this 18-minute sit-down with Jack Nicholson is a riveting account of the numerous production problems, delays, and other mishaps that surrounded the film's production. Jack doesn't hold back, either, giving us some juicy insider tidbits along the way.

Extras Grade: C-


Final Comments

Compared to the previous bare-bones release back in 1999, this new disc, a "Special Collector's Edition", comes in as somewhat of a disappointment as far as extras go. Aside from the theatrical trailer, there's only one bonus feature, a new sit-down with Jack Nicholson. Thisis almost made up for by an amazing new video transfer, but it's difficult to keep from feeling at least somewhat cheated out of a potentially great disc.


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