The Good, the Bad & the * Ugly True Romance

true4kversOh dear, what has happened to my beloved Arrow Films? Is the boutique Blu-ray/DVD market suddenly on a slippery slope? A 4K release of True Romance, of both cuts and with a raft of extras making it pretty much definitive, is surely something to be championed and praised loudly, considering where physical media is going lately, but this release is blighted by some of the worst artwork I’ve had the misfortune to see in all my many years. It also appears to signal a cautionary note regards possible future 4K releases of The Thing (and maybe, even, Ridley Scott’s Legend if the rumours are valid) if they follow a similar release path to this one.

Zavvi (yeah, boo hiss, everyone) bought Arrow Films recently and its pretty clear now how things are going to pan out. Announced for release mostly as Zavvi exclusives True Romance will be released as a 4K limited release steelbook with lots of tat, a 4K steelbook minus the tat with a slimmed-down 30-page booklet (both of these the Zavvi exclusives), and seperate 4K and Blu-ray limited editions (with the ‘proper’ 60-page booklet) which will presumably turn up on Amazon for pre-order next week. Luckily I couldn’t care less for the £40 and £30 steelbooks but even the tat-less 4K set is £30, and with cover artwork as ugly this one’s got they are perhaps pushing people into the direction of the steelbook, but only braver than I risk ordering from Zavvi (not renowned for the best mail packaging around).

true4k5Of course what’s on the discs is what matters but I do wonder who’s in charge of the art direction on this release and greenlit the poster art. Likenesses are pretty poor and worst of all I don’t think any of the designs -even the steelbook, which is the least ugly one of the bunch- actually feels right for the film. It rather seems something of a fudge and a surprising one, as Arrow in the past has been pretty good with their packaging (although their Blu-ray of The Thing was borderline bad, now that I think about it). The thing (sic) that concerns me (other than the Zavvi exclusivity, which was inevitable really) is the sudden tendency to load the releases with tat in order to justify a higher price-tag (their American Werewolf in London was another example of this). Is this just a refection of a last-ditch effort to save physical media?

Can’t imagine Indicator going that way with Columbia Noir tee-shirts and badges etc but I suppose this is the influence of Arrow’s new owner: Zavvi is infamous for re-packaging the same old discs with all-new ‘premium’ packaging, especially regards steelbooks which for some reason seem to drive fans/collectors into a buying frenzy. I’ve bought the odd steelbook in the past but have never second-dipped a film just for the new packaging (I’ve not been in the slightest interested, for instance, in Zavvi’s recent steelbooks for Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049, as the discs are just the same as I already have and you’d have to be out of your mind (or under the influence of too much Soylent Green) to spend £25 just for fancy re-packaging, no matter how much of a die-hard fan you might be – and believe me, few are as die-hard regards Blade Runner as I). Its surprisingly easy to part fools with their money, maybe, but I fear for where this indicates physical releases going.

As far as True Romance goes, its possibly my favourite Tarantino flick (if only because it was directed by a better director) and I’m really pretty chuffed about it, especially in 4K, and the extras look really fine. I never bought the film on Blu-ray so that’s a nicer bonus as it will be nice to watch the film again for the first time in quite awhile… but man, this artwork…. 



6 thoughts on “The Good, the Bad & the * Ugly True Romance

  1. Matthew McKinnon

    Arrow always put shit artwork on the cover. But you can just reverse the sleeve, as they have the original poster on the other side.

    As for Steelbooks… pfffffft. I couldn’t agree more. What’s the point? Why an extra tenner for a bit of packaging? Are you buying a film or a baseball card? It’s nonsense,

    Do you really rate this above ‘Jackie Brown’?!

    1. I haven’t seen Jackie Brown in years, I’m probably past due a re-evaluation (I think I may even have it on Blu-ray somewhere; if I did I maybe watched it once). I saw True Romance at the cinema and recall being struck by it- you know how we make more intense associations with films seen at the cinema rather than in the home? I suppose that’s the ‘cinema experience’ filmmakers keep going on about.

  2. Eh, Arrow’s more premium releases have always bundled in ‘tat’ — I mean, it’s just postcards, poster(s) and a booklet. The only real difference here is that, rather than doing the ‘full’ edition first and a slimmed-down disc-only regular one later, they’ve come out with four different versions at once.

    I’ve always found them hit and miss with art, although this is one of the worst examples, for sure. I don’t know that it’s anything new — I’ve found it to be the same with every label that follows the Criterion model of original art: some great, some utter stinkers. Most of these releases end up spine-out on the shelf anyway, so I can only care so much… although it is tempting me to fork out the extra £10 for that Zavvi-exclusive dual-format version, which at least looks a little better.

    1. I just checked and it’s out of stock already, so that settles that! Considering Zavvi’s poor rep among many, it’s amazing how many “collectors” are happy to order from them; though I feel that’s generally the kind of collector who’s happy to spend £££ re-buying the same movie in a new Steelbook, so we already know what we think of their decision making abilities…

      1. Regards it being out of stock already, I’ve noticed this a lot with physical media of late, its almost like production runs are deliberately set low (whether dictated by Covid, the general decline in physical media or just general production problems with few replicators being left now). Kinos 4K disc of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, which has surprised everyone by actually being good, went straight to OOP once word was out and people started buying it, which suggests they misread demand. I’m resigned to waiting for the second or third production run if I can afford the import duties (while waiting for someone over here like Arrow, maybe, to announce it).

        Mind, re: True Romance, I notice Amazon haven’t put it up for pre-order yet so perhaps people panicked and went the Zavvi route and that, pushed it to sold out already. I’m quite surprised its so popular, unless its international orders skewing it, something which may have contributed to Kino’s disc selling out within days.

      2. One of the things I love about Indicator is if something sells out on pre-orders, or even looks like it will, they just up the print run (they recently did this with Irreversible, I believe). Their editions are limited because they want people to buy it at release price (a reasonable desire for a business, I think), not because they want to artificially inflate demand. Arrow, on the other hand… well, I remember when there was a huge scramble for their initial LE of The Thing and it sold out within hours, and that was that.

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