A young, hungover journalist starts writing for a third-rate newspaper in 1960 San Juan and is torn between crooked real-estate consortium boss Aaron Eckhart’s offer of the good life and his drunken, lunatic colleagues (Giovanni Ribisi and Michael Rispoli) counteroffer of certain jail time. The Hunter S. Thompson character (from an early novel) has not yet become the debauched, brilliant reprobate we’ve come to know and love — “I don’t know how to write like me,” he says — but be assured that before the film’s end his various excesses — near-200 proof hooch, hallucinogens, disgust with the greed sucking the life out of America, and the “beasts of obesity” — will launch him into full Gonzo form. Until then, it’s strictly Hunter lite.
Contrast is uneven, interiors are generally a muddy grey/green, chickens and shirts achieve a bright white, though without true blacks. Beach exteriors fare much better, with rich, sometimes intensely saturated colors and lots more detail, sharpness, and general clarity (except from the characters, of course). Cars and figures sometimes have volume and there’s a sense of space to scenes.
A great music soundtrack mixes Latin jazz, electric blues, and lounge — all terrific in lossless 5.1. Instruments are separated into each channel so that when Dean Martin croons “Volare,” the band is all around, Deano’s voice floating somewhere above the center of the room, extremely full, bassy, and crisp. 12-inch US Navy guns that suddenly start shelling have booming snap to them, and sports cars growl nicely.
“What did we take?” “I don’t know.” “We need to get some more.”
Video: 1.85:1. Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Extras: A Voice Made of Ink and Rage: Inside The Rum Diary, The Rum Diary Back-Story. Studio: Sony.
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