Six years after the Flintstones graced the silver screen in a live-action movie for the first time, to considerable success, Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment bring us a sequel to the film, which actually serves as a prequel. Although not nearly as highly recognized and successful as the previous film, the movie nonetheless managed to make good business at the box office and is now coming to DVD through Universal Home Video. With a new cast and some interesting supplements, I was ready to visit Bedrock and take a look at "The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas."
The story of "The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas" takes place before any of the cartoon episodes and the feature film. In this movie we get to know a little more about the circumstances that led to Fred and Barney fall in love with Wilma and Betty.
Wilma Slaghoople (Kristen Johnston) is the daughter of a rich socialite (Joan Collins) who has plans to wed her only daughter with Chip Rockefeller (Chip Gibson) another smooth and slick socialite. But Wilma is bored by the upper-class schmooze and runs away form home to find a new live in Bedrock, a life among regular people. Soon she runs into Betty O’Shale (Jane Krakowski) a waitress at the local drive-in diner. Warmhearted, Betty takes Wilma in, not knowing that Wilma is the heir to a fortune, and gets her a job at the burger place, too.
All the while Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble take their tests as bronto crane drivers in the local quarry. To celebrate their success they go out for dinner and meet, Betty and Wilma. Soon a first date is arranged and before long, romance is blooming between the couples. But Chip Rockefeller is not ready to be beaten to the altar by a common man, and he is determined to rid himself of Fred and his entourage, and get his hands on Wilma. He invited them all to his casino in Rock Vegas where he promises them an all-paid luxurious weekend. But the mischievous reality of the offer becomes obvious when Fred is hitting the gambling tables in Rock Vegas.
Although it is hard to imagine a Flintstones live-action movie without John Goodman and Rick Moranis, "The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas" turns out to be a great and highly entertaining movie. Mark Addy and Stephen Baldwin do a good job playing these beloved cartoon characters and this tim,e the film even gets the female parts right, which were the weakest spots in the first movie. Kristen Johnston and Jane Krakowski are outrageous as Wilma and Betty, and bring these characters to life beautifully, without going over board with the cartoony side of them.
Once again, the highly imaginative and colorful production design of the film steals ultimately the show however. It is so much fun to see all the whimsical designs, machinery, utensils and colorful creations that have made it into the film, that Alan Cumming’s superb Mick Jagger parody as "Mick Jagged and the Stones" seems almost insignificant... almost!
Universal Home Video is releasing "The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas" in its original 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio in a transfer that is enhanced for 16x9 television sets. The transfer is absolutely clean and stable without the slightest blemishes in the source print. Sharp and highly detailed, the presentation boasts incredibly rich colors that bathe the screen. Although featuring such strong colors, the transfer never appears over-saturated and always has a very balanced quality. Skin tones are rendered very naturally, giving the image a good balance. Blacks are very deep and solid, yet never lose image details in the shadows. There is no pixel break-up evident anywhere, and every bit of detail remains intact. Highlights are nicely counter-balanced, giving the image a wide range of contrast that results in a pleasing and natural presentation. The compression has been done flawlessly on this release, and without any compression artifacts, the presentation leaves even the most intricate and colorful image details full intact.
On the audio side, Universal Home Video knows also how to excel, and supplies an English Dolby Digital, an English DTS and a French Dolby Surround audio mix for this release. All tracks are of superior quality with rich and engaging surrounds. The audio tracks have a wide frequency response with a good bass extension. Especially the 5.1 mixes benefit from the additional extension coming through the LFE channel at times, giving the tacks weight and power. The tracks also feature crystal clear high ends and very good dynamics, making listening to this presentation a pleasure. The dialogues are well integrated in the overall mix and are consistently balanced and always understandable without interference from the sound effects or the music score.
The disc contains a "Spotlight On Location" featurette with cast and crew interviews, as well as a look behind the scenes. Although not overly technical in nature, the documentary is informative and entertaining. Especially director Brian Levant comes across as very enthusiastic for the project, offering plenty of information, which makes me wish he had contributed a commentary track to this disc. Nonetheless, combined with the trailer, the production notes and the biographies, this is once again a very well-rounded day and date release from Universal Home Video that will give you a number of good laughs.