Before I launch into the rest of the film, let me give praise to the creators of this "Flintstones" prequel for the near-brilliant casting of Stephen Baldwin in the role he was born to play, Barney Rubble. Baldwin plays the dopey Rubble so absurdly well that it almost makes the rest of this mess worth watching. Like the first movie, the second film (a prequel, more on that in a minute) is a triumph of set-design, but the screenplay remains stuck in the stone age.
That's particularly aparent through much of this film, which starts with Fred (Mark Addy from "The Full Monty") and Barney (the previously mentioned Baldwin) living together as roommates. Wilma (Kirsten Johnson of "3rd Rock From The Sun") is a rich girl running away from her family and Betty (Jane Krakowski of "Ally McBeal") is a waitress at the local burger joint who takes Wilma in. The two pairs meet up one night and go out for a date; although they start out with the wrong ones, eventually they work out with the pairs we know. To top it off, an alien named Gazoo(Alan Cumming from "Eyes Wide Shut") arrives to study the human species. Wilma's mother is also trying to get her to marry Chip Rockefeller(Thomas Gibson from "Dharma and Greg").
The two couples go off for a weekend in Rock Vegas, and are followed by Chip, who wants Wilma back. The first film wasn't great, but at least it was mildly funny. The only thing this film has going is the outstanding sets and costumes; while watching it, you begin to wonder if even the grass wasn't made specifically for the film. It seems often as if every last detail was accounted for. It all becomes fairly meaningless though, when the rest of the film doesn't work.
"Viva Rock Vegas" seems content to go along on its own flat pace, and the humor is of a particularly low level, with quite a few lame bathroom jokes. A couple of bits work mildly, and Baldwin's "Bill and Ted" like take on Barney is amusing, but from the looks of this film there wasn't enough material to complete this second picture, which seems long even at 90 minutes. Addy isn't half bad as the new Fred, but Johnston has stronger opportunities for comedy on "3rd Rock" and Krakowski does what she can with a limited role.
. The film is often boring, and simply it wasn't something that was necessary; why they even made this second film is beyond me. Although the first one was a success, it's been quite a while since. And hopefully it'll be a longer time before the next installment of this series ( is "never" good for everyone?)
VIDEO: As goofy a movie as it is, that didn't keep Universal from doing marvelous work on the image quality for this DVD presentation. All of the film's outstanding sets are given perfect display here; sharpness and detail are excellent and clarity is never lacking at all. Most of the movie contains beautifully bright images and that have a near rainbow of colors.
Colors are extremely vibrant and well-saturated. The early theme park scene is a good example of how rich and warm the colors look on this presentation, a few scenes of which may have served as demo material for some had the movie been better.
Looking for flaws in the presentation, I really had a hard time finding any - the print used is in beautiful condition with not a flaw to be found, and any other artifacts are so small as to be barely noticed and not distracting. Black level is strong, and flesh tones are natural and accurate.
Universal did a fine job on "Viva Rock Vegas"; I wish more films could look this great.
SOUND: Universal has given viewers the option of watching "Viva Rock Vegas" in either Dolby Digital 5.1 audio or DTS 5.1 audio (the DTS "piano" trailer plays once DTS is selected from the audio menu). The audio for the film is enjoyable; very good but not outstanding. Most of the film's audio comes from the front and, like most comedies, is a mix of music and dialogue.
This film takes that a few steps further with some sequences (like the opening) that use the surrounds effectively. Other than that, surrounds mainly come into play for the music and ambient sounds. This isn't a consistently agressive presentation in terms of sound, but all speakers do work together very nicely to create whatever environment the film can come up with. The music provides a kick of energy and sounds excellent throughout the film, and dialogue is clear and easily heard.
I didn't really feel that there was much difference between the DTS and Dolby Digital soundtracks; the DTS version offered a slightly warmer, crisper sound but the difference was extremely minimal. A few steps above the usual "comedy" soundtrack, the audio for "Viva Rock Vegas" provides an entertaining sound experience.
MENUS:: Menus are non-animated, but the main menu does have music from the film playing in the background.
Spotlight On Location: Universal's usual "behind-the-scenes" documentary profiles "Viva Rock Vegas" this time, and the results are pretty good. Sometimes these documentaries can be a bit too promotional, but this one does a nice job showing us how all of these huge sets were built from scratch, and how the many concepts for these sets were brought to life. According to director Levant, there were 27,000 props made for the film. After seeing how much work went into the sets and props, which do look great, it's even more depressing that more work didn't go into the screenplay. The documentary runs about 15 minutes, and goes into good detail about casting, sets and the film's effects.
Trailers: The trailer for the first "Flintstones" movie as well as this one; trailers are also included for "Little Rascals" and "Babe".
Also: Production notes, cast&crew bios.
Final Thoughts: I really can't fault Universal's work on the DVD - the audio/video quality is very good, but I can certainly fault the movie. It's not that the actors don't try, it's simply that the movie around them doesn't. The script goes for the bare minimum, and the jokes suffer, falling flat 9 times out of 10. It's really just a film that should not have gotten made.
The Film **/****
Video 97/A = (388/400 possible points)
Audio: 89/B+ = (356/400 possible points)
Extras: 80/B- = (240/300 possible points)
Menus: 73/C = (146/200 possible points)
Value: 83/B = (249/300 possible points)
FILM GRADE: **/****
DVD GRADE: B