If you're in search of some '80s nostalgia, a double feature of Romancing the Stone and The Jewel of the Nile will definitely satisfy, but if not, stay away from these carbon-dated relics.
Romancing the Stone introduces Joan Wilder (Kathleen Turner), a lonely romance novelist who gets caught up in a South American treasure hunt. Along the way, she encounters Jack T. Colton (Michael Douglas) a rogue who becomes her partner in search of the titular stone.
Notably, the film is credited with establishing the modern action-comedy-romance genre — you know the formula: bickering couple outwit and slapstick their way out of various action sequences in search of a MacGuffin and end up living happily ever after. As the template, Romancing the Stone coasted on its novelty back in the day, but time and the more polished efforts that followed now reveal it to be tacky, plodding and awkward.
The sequel, The Jewel of the Nile, is the better of the two films, as it notches up the action and tightens up the stiff dialogue that hindered its predecessor. This time, Joan and Jack take their adventures to the Middle East and Romancing the Stone's minor comic foil Ralph (Danny DeVito) is given an expanded role, as the suffering Wile E. Coyote to the Road Runner-like couple.
Still, there's no denying the just-average quality of both films. Hollywood got much better at producing these kinds of please-all, date-movie blockbusters, so unless you have some sort of affection for Douglas-Turner team-ups or early '80s cheese, skip these.
Both discs are packaged with standard-definition featurettes built upon recent interviews with Douglas, Turner and DeVito reflecting on the production process; unremarkable deleted scenes (in high-definition); The Jewel of the Nile features a theatrical trailer and director's commentary.
Older titles generally aren't showcase Blu-Ray material, and for most consumers, films appear only marginally better than an upscaled DVD. This is the case with Romancing the Stone and The Jewel of the Nile. While Stone has a slightly sharper transfer than Jewel, image quality jars in its final act, where many of the shots in the climactic scene are blurred (likely because of damage to the original source material).
About Robert J. Ballantyne
Robert J.Ballantyne is a senior editor at Popjournalism and Creative Director at Artsculture.ca. Previously, he was a journalist at the CBC on a number of news programs including the fifth estate, Marketplace and The National. He also worked as a staff writer at the Toronto Star.