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Dick Tracy

A movie directed by Warren Beatty

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Dick Tracy is stylish and visually impressive even if shallow and one-dimmensional

  • Dec 16, 2010
  • by
Probably the most stylish and unique comic book films ever made, but not one of the most developed.

The story is pretty simple. There is a guy, his name is Dick Tracy, he is a detective, and he wants to get rid of this other guy who is a gangster named Big Boy Caprice. That is pretty much it. Two guys trying to get rid of each other, not much beyond that.

The characters are also very thin. Dick Tracy was not interesting at all, he just seemed like a bland character with little personality. None of the other characters is much interesting too, the only character who actually grebbed my attention was the villain, Big Boy himself. Not that he is a really interesting character but Al Pacino's fun and engaging performance makes him a much more three-dimmensional character than he actually is. But the problem is, he is not that threatening of a villain. I mean, you do like him, you laugh with him and wish he had more screen time ( at least more than Dick does ) but he is not menacing, he is not threatening, I mean, try to take his death threats seriously while he is making those funny faces and wearing colorful tuxedos. Thinking well, his performance was not that great, he certainly was fun to look at, but that performance and certainly the enviomment around him made him look less like a villain and more like a comedic character. And the fact that he is a much more interesting and fun character than the hero really makes the movie less exciting. Also Al Pacino is the only actor that actually holds up to me. All the other actors, specially Warren Beatty and Madonna have both really bland and wooden performances.

The story is also really devoided of emotion. They do try to add some when Dick's girlfriend sees Breathless Johanne ( Madonna ) kissing him and breaks up with him. But again, we don't feel much about Dick's character, so the movie still doesn't have much emotion to it.

However, the movie does have some really strong points. For example, the visuals. This is probably one of the most outstanding visuals ever in a comic book movie, not because it has awe-inspring visual effects, but because of its style. The whole film is set in a gigantic artificial world where everything seems to be taken from a comic strip. The color pallete is made only of vivid colors, and this include production design, set decoration, costumes. The crew really wanted this movie to look like a comic strip. Every object, every piece of clothing looks incredible, so colorful and so styllish. The cinematographer also had a lot of work because he needed to use the lighning effects while still making the colors of the movie looking vivid and he did a great job. Whether it is day or night, the sets always look impressive.

The look of the characters is also really impressive. When I said they made the movie looks like comic book I mean they made even the characters look like comic book characters. They have characters with giant heads, others have triangle-shaped heads, others have strange lips, there is even a guy that has no face ( not Warren Beatty, he just has no facial expressions, it is slightly different ).

The soundtrack by Danny Elfman is also really good, I mostly enjoy the song sang by Madonna specially two, one is the Academy Award-winning Sooner or Later, which is a slow but surprisingly enjoyable jazz song, and the other is one that I don't remember the name but had something to do with money, this one was much faster and thus, I thought it was much more fun than the other one.

The movie also has some strong and certainly entertaining action scenes, but the movie as a whole isn't very exciting.

The movie was nominated for seven Academy Awards. Best Costume Design ( lost to Cyrano de Bergerac ), Best Cinematography ( lost tot Dances with Wolves ), Best Sound Mixing ( lost to Dances with Wolves too ), Best Supporting Actor ( Al Pacino, lost to Joe Pesci for Goodfellas ) and won Best Art Direction, Best Makeup and Best Original Song ( Sooner or Later ).

So, that's Dick Tracy. A clever and emotional action film? No. Worth a look? Definitively, just its style already deserves a recommendation, and the movie can be pretty enjoyable as well. 6,3/10 - Nice.

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December 17, 2010
well said. I liked this film....and I have to say in some ways, it was visually superior to the comic book itself. The colors, the dialogue the posturing....it expresses the period where this hailed from. Thank you for sharing!
December 16, 2010
Wow, I didn't realize this film was nominated for so many awards. Guess I'll have to go back and re-watch it, it's been years! The soundtrack sounds interesting too. Thanks for sharing!
More Dick Tracy (1990 movie) reviews
review by . September 02, 2010
In 1989, everyone remembers Batman roared onto the movie scene in the summer, made a bundle, sold lots of t shirts and toys, had a Danny Elfman score and a striking if drab grays and charcoals and black color scheme as well as a big name cast.  Next year came Dick Tracy, a colorful as hell movie in the summer of 1990 that made a bundle, sold lots of t shirts and toys, had a Danny Elfman score and a very bright and cheery color palette and had a huge ensemble to big names and character actors.  …
Quick Tip by . September 02, 2010
Great and colorful comic movie chock full of stars thats long on color and visuals but comes up a little short in some of it's characters.
review by . April 01, 2002
posted in Movie Hype
DICK TRACY is not a great movie. However, nor is it a bad movie. It's just a decent, good movie. It appeals most to boys, and is basically a toned down version of the of the blow-em-up cop movies of the modern era. Nevertheless, there is a romantic element that appeals to girls (besides the usual love story there's also Tess' tortured soul over her love for Tracy and a desire for a "normal" life; and there's also the love triangle with Breathless Mahoney).The plot of the movie is fairly simple. …
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About this movie


Dick Tracy is a 1990 American pulp action film based on the 1930s comic strip character of the same name created by Chester Gould. Warren Beatty produced, directed, and starred in the film, which features supporting roles from Al Pacino, Madonna, Glenne Headly, and Charlie Korsmo. Dick Tracy depicts the detective's love relationships with Breathless Mahoney and Tess Truehart, as well as his conflicts with crime boss Alphonse "Big Boy" Caprice. Tracy also begins his upbringing of "The Kid".

Development of the film started in the early 1980s with Tom Mankiewicz assigned to write the script. The project also went through directors Steven Spielberg, John Landis, Walter Hill, and Richard Benjamin before the arrival of Beatty. Filming was entirely at Universal Studios. Danny Elfman was hired to compose the film score, and the music was featured on three separate soundtrack albums.

Dick Tracy was released in 1990 to mixed reviews, but was generally a success at the box office and at awards time. It picked up seven Academy Award nominations and won in three of the categories: Best Original Song, Best Makeup and Best Art Direction. A sequel was planned, but a controversy over the film rights ensued between Beatty and Tribune Media Services, and the lawsuit still goes on, so a second film has not been produced.

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Genre: Action, Adventure
Release Date: June 15, 1990
MPAA Rating: PG
Runtime: 1hr 45min
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