- The Washington Times - Monday, June 29, 2015

Director Cameron Crowe’s intense but befuddling psychological thriller starring Tom Cruise finally arrives in the Blu-ray format after numerous delays.

Originally released back in 2001 and based on the 1997 Spanish film, “Abre Los Ojos (Open Your Eyes),” Vanilla Sky (Warner Home Video, Rated R, $19.98) offers a story about the life of ego-driven David Aames, portrayed by Mr. Cruise, a son of a magazine publisher now running daddy’s business.

Through a series of tragic events tied to a jealous lover, he finds himself in prison, disfigured, wearing a mask and talking to a psychiatrist about a crime he might have committed. Is it a dream? Is it suppressed memories? Is it an alternate universe?



It will take every moment of the 136-minute theatrical effort for viewers to understand Mr. Aames’ ultimate dilemma or acquire enough clues to come up with their own interpretation.

Throughout, Mr. Cruise’s intense chemistry with his onscreen love interests Cameron Diaz and Penelope Cruz really helps propel the film’s love and lost love themes.

The digital transfer fills home theater screens with its 1.78:1 aspect ratio but it does not do a great job of highlighting Academy Award-winning cinematographer John Toll’s work (reference the 4K scan of “Apollo 13” or “Goodfellas” to see some amazing efforts). 

On a ultra-high definition television with upscaling, it just looks like a movie with plenty of film grain. I’m still OK with that result.

The DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix is appreciated for highlighting a great soundtrack loaded with songs from bands such as U2, R.E.M., Bob Dylan, Peter Gabriel and the Academy Award-nominated piece from Paul McCartney.

Extras are bountiful but mainly culled from the DVD release back in 2002.

They begin with a new chance to watch the entire movie with an alternate ending that starts with about 30 minutes left in the action, adding 5 minutes to the run time.

It further fleshes out the surprising finale (beating the audience over the head) with a few critical dialogue scenes and more evidence of the complex choices of the director’s jigsaw puzzle of a story.

Additionally, new on the disk, fans can also dig into 13 deleted or alternate takes of scenes with commentary from Mr. Crowe.

Better yet, an optional commentary track covering the entire theatrical version and alternate end version of the film stars the director and his former spouse, the film’s musical composer, Heart’s own Nancy Wilson.

It’s required listening for those enamored with film’s dense ending. Mr. Crowe’s free-flowing and often giddy dialogue overloads viewers with information especially on the complex ending. His talk is enjoyable from the beginning to even the ending credits.

Miss Wilson does not offer much but she actually spends more time playing guitar, which is pretty cool.

Also, I enjoyed a 157-image, photo gallery slideshow chronicling the film with an audio introduction from the photographer Neal Preston.

• Joseph Szadkowski can be reached at jszadkowski@washingtontimes.com.

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