COCOON [1985 / 2014] [Limited Edition SteelBook] [Blu-ray] [UK Release]
‘COCOON’ is a Celebration of the Human Spirit!

A group of shut-ins at a rest home get a new lease on life when they're offered the gift of eternal youth by visiting aliens led by Brian Dennehy, who are visitors from a distant galaxy. Steve Guttenberg plays a charter boat captain who helps Brian Dennehy and Don Ameche, marshal their fellow seniors Hume Cronyn, Wilford Brimley, Jack Gilford, Jessica Tandy and Maureen Stapleton into making the choice between perennial youth or old age. They have come to Earth on a rescue mission to retrieve a secret which has lain hidden on the ocean floor for thousands of years. They share a more wondrous adventure of love and friendship that they could ever have imagined.

FILM FACT: Awards and Nomination: 1985 Venice Film Festival: Win: Young Venice Award for Ron Howard. 1986 Academy Awards®: Win: Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Don Ameche. Win: Best Effects and Visual Effects for David Berry, Ken Ralston, Ralph McQuarrie and Scott Farrar. 1989 Golden Globes: Nomination: Best Motion Picture in a Comedy or Musical. 1986 Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA: Win: Best Director for Ron Howard. Nomination: Best Science Fiction Film. Nomination: Best Actor for Hume Cronyn. Nomination: Best Actress for Jessica Tandy. Nomination: Best Supporting Actress for Gwen Verdon. Nomination: Best Writing for Tom Benedek. Nomination: Best Music for James Horner. 1986 Casting Society of America: Nomination: Artios Award for Best Casting for Feature Film, Drama for Penny Perry. 1986 Directors Guild of America: Nomination: Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures for Ron Howard. 1986 Hugo Awards: Nomination: Best Dramatic Presentation for Ron Howard (director), Tom Benedek (screenplay) and David Saperstein (based on the novel). 1986 Writers Guild of America: Nomination: Writers Guild of America Award (Screen) for Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen for Tom Benedek. 1986 Young Artist Awards: Win: Family Motion Picture Drama.   

Cast: Don Ameche, Wilford Brimley, Hume Cronyn, Brian Dennehy, Jack Gilford, Steve Guttenberg, Maureen Stapleton, Jessica Tandy, Gwen Verdon, Herta Ware, Tahnee Welch, Barret Oliver, Linda Harrison, Tyrone Power Jr., Clint Howard, Charles Lampkin, Mike Nomad, Jorge Gil, James Ritz, Charles Rainsbury, Wendy J. Cooke, Pamela Prescott, Dinah Sue Rowley, Gabriella Sinclair, Cyndi Vicino, Russ Wheeler, Harold Bergman, Ivy Thayer, Fred Broderson, Mark Cheresnick, Bette Shoor, Mark Simpson, Robert Slacum Jr., Rance Howard, Jean Speegle Howard, Charles Voelker, Irving Krone, Clarence Thomas, Ted Science, Kirk Alderman (uncredited), Fred Astaire (archive footage) (uncredited), Jim Fitzpatrick (uncredited), Reginald Gardiner (archive footage) (uncredited), Oliver Hardy (archive footage) (uncredited),  Stan Laurel (archive footage) (uncredited), Carmen Miranda (archive footage) (uncredited), Jean Parker (archive footage) (uncredited), Tracy Roberts (uncredited) and Ginger Rogers (archive footage) (uncredited)

Director: Ron Howard

Producers: David Brown, Lili Fini Zanuck, Richard D. Zanuck and Robert Doudell

Screenplay: Tom Benedek (screenplay) and David Saperstein (story) 

Cinematographer: Donald William Peterman, A.S.C. (Director of Photography)

Special FX: David Berry, Ken Ralston, Ralph McQuarrie and Scott Farrar

Composer: James Horner

Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
French: 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo Audio
Spanish: 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono Audio
English: 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo Audio

Subtitles: English SDH and Spanish

Image Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Running Time: 117 minutes

Region: All Regions

Number of discs: 1

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Andrew's Blu-ray Review: Takeaway the aliens from director Ron Howard's 1985 film ‘COCOON’ and you no longer have “science fiction,” but instead you have a drama about the enduring human spirit. This often overlooked gem of a film from the mid-1980's took a step back from the onslaught of hyperactive special effects and paranoia associated with the “me” generation and instead, like Steven Spielberg's ‘E.T.’ and Ron Howard inserted a breath of fresh air, relaxation,  optimism that hearkened back to another Steven Spielberg sci-fi film, ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind.'

Unlike the latter that came along at a time when the country and the world were in an emotional and financial state, with dismal spirits all around, ‘E.T.’ and ‘COCOON’ came at a time during the 1980's when people were riding a seeming financial boom. It was the decade of skinny ties, the Hollywood blockbuster and yuppies. Science fiction was meant to be spectacle and it was ‘Dune,’ ‘Blade Runner,’ ‘ALIEN,’ and ‘Terminator.’ We were going to be destroyed by our technological success or by an unknown entity and that was that. But in ‘COCOON’ was a quiet story crafted around characters that offered an inward and almost naïve optimism that returned to the 1970s, or perhaps even the 1960s era of plain drama.

In the film ‘COCOON’ a group of elderly people in a nursing home accidentally discovers the “fountain of youth” in the swimming pool of a vacant home next to their residence. It turns out, however, that the “fountain of youth” is really causing their reinvigoration due to alien cocoons that are resting there. After purchasing the house, a group of aliens has been scavenging their cocoons from the sea floor and resting them in the house's pool. They discover the elderly folks swimming, but agree to allow them to continue to swim there and benefit from the pool's energy. ‘COCOON’ has a cast is filled with veteran actors like Jessica Tandy, Don Ameche and Maureen Stapleton and also features Steve Guttenberg as the boat captain helping the aliens recover their cocoons.

The alterations to the old folk's lives begin to have repercussions beyond just their newfound youth. It forces them to re-examine what they want out of life and from their partners. Beyond being just a story of the elderly seeking to regain their youth, ‘COCOON’ is a film about the undying energy of the spirit within us all, regardless of our age. It's a feel good film for sure, and it may be unevenly charted between comedy, drama, and science fiction, but it is a wholesomely enjoyable gem nonetheless.

In closing, ‘COCOON’ was a bit of a stretch out into new storytelling territory at the time for director Ron Howard, as he himself even discusses briefly in the provided supplements. However, looking at it closely, going towards the sci-fi direction was not too much of a departure from a fantasy oriented film about a mermaid in ‘Splash.’ Larger than the plotline of “Antareans” gathering extra-terrestrial cocoons from the ocean floor is the story within the elderly men who become involved with the life force charmed pool. This element of the story feels sincerely more like Ron Howard's touch, as the emotions and scenarios involved with the elderly regaining their youth and vitality brings about a fork in the road of whether reversing their decline of health is right or wrong. On the side regarding the film's sci-fi pieces, it doesn't go way over-the-top and become outrageous and silly, but rather leaves a lot to the viewer's imagination. This does help keep the story stable, as the film is strongly a bit of a pop-culture icon, with references to its unique story seen in many outlets of entertainment over the years, and with that in mind it is worthy of a solid endorsement.


GRAVITY [Performed by Michael Sembello]

DANCE TRACK (Composed by James Horner)

I’M IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE (Music by Jimmy McHugh) (Lyrics by Dorothy Fields) [Sung by Don Ameche]

SOME ENCHANTED EVENING (Music by Richard Rodgers) (Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II) [Sung by Don Ameche]

THE SECOND TIME AROUND (Music by Jimmy Van Heusen) (Lyrics by Sammy Cahn) [Sung by Bing Crosby]

CHATTANOOGA CHOO CHOO (Music by Harry Warren) [Played by the band at the ballroom]

DANCING IN THE DARK (Music by Arthur Schwartz) [Played by the band at the ballroom]

A WEEK-END IN HAVANA (Music by Harry Warren) (Lyrics by Mack Gordon) [Played when the men take their wives swimming]

YOU’LL NEVER KNOW (Music by Harry Warren) [Played on the piano]

BRIDAL CHORUS from "Lohengrin" (Music by Richard Wagner)

Blu-ray Image Quality – ‘COCOON’ gets a wonderful 1080p upgraded image presentation and is helped with a wonderful aspect ratio of 1.85:1. For a 1985 film, this is definitely an impressive transfer considering the film was released in 1985. For the most part, the picture looks very clean, rarely exhibiting the usual soft quality seen in films from the 1980's period and even the 1990's and typically, the rare occasions that a softer image quality is present and are usually in specific interior shots that are largely relying on natural lighting beaming in through windows. Otherwise, the Hi-Definition presentation of this film has a very clean look, with well-balanced saturation that in no way suggested the film's age, and a colour palette that is mostly neutral, exhibiting flesh tones with the most accuracy possible, and a black level that is nearly solid. Though the release is certainly not excessively soft in its presentation, definition of little details is not intense; however, it is still a definite improvement to any other releases of ‘COCOON.’ A few close-ups of actors and/or props render what detail has been uncovered with this High Definition transfer, and when looking at other Blu-ray releases of films from this era, `Cocoon' considerably outranks many others in the video quality department. There is an insignificant amount of small flaws that occur throughout the release's runtime, mostly being interfaced deformation, though other typical artefacts, such as hairs, dirt, and specs, are basically obsolete. Perhaps the original source for this transfer had simply not succumbed to many elements/conditions that would have deteriorated its quality, or may be the situation of this film's Hi-Definition transfer was simply more precise and thorough in cleaning up the flaws, but regardless, the Blu-ray release of ‘COCOON’ is an impressive example of how films two decades old can look.

Blu-ray Audio Quality – The ‘COCOON’ soundtrack has been spruced up quite a bit for this Blu-ray release and given a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix. With the opening of the film's story, we see the “Antareans” beaming the light of their spaceship above the ocean where their remaining race lies underwater in cocoons. The presence of their spaceship, and the chirping of the dolphins surrounding the area all creates an interesting conveyance of sound from the 5.1 setup, having a nearly metaphysical quality as it pans about the rear and front channels, and also makes for usage of the subwoofer. As amazing as this first moment in the audio track is, following along with the rest of the film's content, the soundscape remains a bit more placid throughout the release's runtime, though still retains a great performance. Dialogue is delivered perfectly without any flaws, and several examples of sound effects translate without issues, whether they are from natural surroundings, or a computer generated synthetic sound to depict the “Antareans.” There are a few minutes' worth of intense audio content, aside from the described beginning, throughout the release's runtime that really show a kick-up in the audio track's performance, but otherwise the content relies on a more general well-balanced presentation, though is still worth a more than decent.

Blu-ray Special Features and Extras: There is nothing new provided on this Blu-ray SteelBook release of ‘COCOON,’ but viewers may still find the archival documentary that offers you the vintage interview segments of the cast, crew and filmmakers quite a treat.

Audio Commentary by Director Ron Howard: One of the nicest guys in Hollywood gives a candid, friendly, and informative audio commentary track that spans the usual topics and technical details, on-set stories, and other pertinent reminiscences. With this Ron Howard audio commentary, again he is very informative and to a great degree like his film and very likeable but not exactly challenging or too full of unusual stories. This was his next feature film after ‘Splash’ and he talks about how his wife had an interest in geriatric psychology so the script was reworked to incorporate a few ideas that deepened the characters. Ron Howard says that they didn't build any sets a few minutes after telling us that the swimming pool was a set built. Uh, OK. He also said something extraordinary perhaps not in the right way... Ron Howard states that "...if twenty minutes ago you would have asked me if Atlantis was in my film, I would have said no!" maybe it is memory problems. We're all prone to it when one gets older. It's the audio commentary that made me revaluate the species of the intelligent of dolphins. So Ron Howard was so convinced they were real and the fact that they can be trained and that I accepted the mechanical ones as real without hesitation. Ron Howard points out friends and relations playing extras and notes this was his first Director's Guild Nomination. On working with James Horner, a frequent collaborator, he remembers producer Lili Fini Zanuck's instruction "Just make it religious, James." Lili Fini Zanuck knew which side her Steven Spielberg bread was buttered. Ron Howard gives a  running commentary that is a gentle meander and is well worth a listen, as you learn a lot about his film ‘COCOON.’

Special Feature: Behind-the-Scenes Documentary [1985] [480i] [1.37:1] [6.56] Serves as the first of five brief documentaries for the film. Featuring interviews with the producers Lili Fini Zanuck and Richard D. Zanuck, several cast members, director Ron Howard, and special effects supervisor Ken Ralston, who went on to win an OSCAR® for his work on the film.

Special Feature: Ron Howard Profile [1985] [480i] [1.37:1] [2.34] He came to prominence playing Opie Taylor in the sitcom ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ for eight years, and later the teenaged Richie Cunningham in the sitcom ‘Happy Days’ for six years. He appeared in the musical film ‘The Music Man’ in 1962, the coming of age film ‘American Graffiti’ in 1973, and the western ‘The Shootist’ in 1976, the latter during his run on the TV show ‘Happy Days.’ This vintage profile gives an overview of the then 34 year old director's career. Ron Howard was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 2013.

Special Feature: Underwater Training [1985] [480i] [1.37:1] [3.35] Actor and diving instructor Mike Nomad who trained Ron Howard for the production of ‘Splash' [1984] discusses the perils and challenges of shooting underwater and we get to view the challenges that were involved in making this film.

Special Feature: Actors Interviews [1985] [480i] [1.37:1] [2.52] An overview of ‘Cocoon' and ensemble cast, concerning their characters in the film are offered by Steve Guttenberg, Jack Gilford, Brian Dennehy, Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy, and Maureen Stapleton. Despite it being rather short, it still reveals a lot of information of the people involved with the film.

Special Feature: Creating Antareans [1985] [480i] [1.37:1] [3.56] The actors who play the film's aliens talk about the process of creating their characters and concerning their role in the film and are offered by Steve Guttenberg, Jack Gilford, Brian Dennehy, Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy and Maureen Stapleton.

Teaser Trailers: Teaser Trailer [1985] [480i] [1.37:1] [0:55]; Theatrical Trailer [1985] [480i] [1.37:1] [1:27]; TV Spot No.1 [1985] [480i] [1.37:1] [0:31]; TV Spot No.2 [1985] [480i] [1.37:1] [0:31] and TV Spot No.3 [1985] [480i] [1.37:1] [0:31].

Theatrical Teaser Trailer [1988] [480i] [1.37:1] [1:20] This is the Original Theatrical Trailer for ‘Cocoon: The Return.’

Finally, kick back and prepare for some warm light hearted sci-fi fun that forgoes the reliance on special effects and actually remembers there are people in the world. ‘COCOON’ image is rather stellar, rarely becoming genuinely exceptional but always getting the job done in a satisfactory transfer. The special effects sequence come close to providing some real pop, but otherwise the transfer just offers a natural, warm image with solid detail. Flesh tones are warm and accurate while darker scenes benefit from good depth. ‘COCOON’ itself on this Blu-ray disc has gotten some life-extending rejuvenation, thanks to a strong high definition transfer by 20th Century Fox and I am so pleased to have this unique Limited Edition SteelBook in my extensive Blu-ray Collection and especially a really great favourite film of mine, but now I wish they would release the follow up ‘Cocoon: The Return' as a Limited Edition SteelBook Blu-ray as well. Highly Recommended!

Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Aficionado 
Le Cinema Paradiso 
United Kingdom

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