January 30, 2024

A STAR IS BORN: Is This The Best Version?

A STAR IS BORN (Blu-ray)
2018 / 136 min
Review by Stinky the Destroyer😺

Approaching remakes is sort of a funny thing. Most of us have a tendency to be fairly close-minded when it comes to remakes of certain films, especially iconic ones. In general, I’m not opposed to remakes, never feeling they tarnish the legacy of the original, even when the new version sucks.

Then there are those films that seem to be remade every generation or so, like A Star is Born. Regarding these, I think we have a tendency to assess them based on whichever previous version we’re most familiar with. I never watched the original 1937 film and didn’t see the 1954 version (generally considered the definitive one) until much later in life, meaning my basis for comparison has always been the 1976 Barbra Streisand vanity project.

2018’s A Star is Born is Citizen Kane compared to that one. Granted, that ain’t saying much, but character-wise, it compares favorably to the James Mason/Judy Garland version. A country-rock star on a path of self-destruction, Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) is both sympathetic and exasperating, while the singer he discovers and falls in love with, Ally (Lady Gaga), is likable and relatable. The narrative does a great job making us care about these two, especially as Jack’s substance abuse spirals toward its inevitable conclusion.

"Ally...'alot' is not a word."
The performances are uniformly excellent, especially Cooper and Gaga, who are supported by great turns from Sam Elliot as Jack’s beleaguered older brother and - believe it or not - Andrew Dice Clay as Ally’s congenial, encouraging father. Though it’s his first film as a director, Cooper (who also co-wrote) displays the skills of a veteran, especially with the numerous music sequences. And despite its length, this is the only version of A Star is Born that doesn’t feel longer than it needs to be, which is a good thing considering it’s never been the most uplifting story to hit the screen.

But is it the best version? I dunno…it’s probably unfair to compare this one to the 1954 film. Other than the basic story and themes, they’re apples and oranges. With its contemporary aesthetic (and some truly great songs), perhaps it’s better to say this is the best remake of A Star is Born that’s possible today. If nothing else, it makes the 1976 version look like a slab of shallow, dated tripe (not that it was ever anything else). 

This is a re-issue of the Blu-ray first released in 2019. There are no technical upgrades or additional new supplementary material.


THE ROAD TO STARDOM: MAKING A STAR IS BORN - The pretty interesting 30-minute doc featuring a lot of behind-the-scenes footage (including Metallica’s Lars Ulrich, who helped shoot a scene!) and a casual round-table discussion with the main cast.

JAM SESSIONS AND RARITIES - Rehearsal footage of the music performances.


MUSICAL MOMENTS - A compilation of music scenes from the movie.

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