Cool As Ice stars Vanilla Ice back in 1991 where he rides motorbikes, raps, and saves a family from the mafia. Five. Gold. Stars. It's a sight to be seen with cringe-worthy dialogue, but the film itself is visually striking in the best ways. The 1080p HD transfer looks amazing and the DTS-HD 5.1 audio option sounds fantastic in this slick Mediabook release from Turbine. The bonus features are simply phenomenal and super fun to watch. Highly Recommended!
In 1991, there were two films that were released which starred two prominent rappers. One was a summer film called Boyz n the Hood that co-starred Ice Cube where the film went on to make quite a bit of money at the box office and had great critical success, along with being a pioneer in black cinema that paved the way for many other filmmakers. The other one was Cool As Ice which put the spotlight on Vanilla Ice. Anyone could probably guess which one stood the test of time, but the story behind the film is such an interesting story that it makes this wild musical comedy-drama one of those rare gems that might be so bad - it's great.
When the studio executives found out that successful rapper Ice Cube was making a movie that was set to change the cinema world, they thought they could do the same with Vanilla Ice, who at the time was the most popular hip-hop star for about ten months. Oddly enough, they didn't even think to put his only hit single in the film. Cool As Ice is basically four movies in one under the span of 91 minutes. While Boyz n the Hood tackled the real-life streets of Los Angeles with young school kids trying to keep out of gang life and violence, Cool As Ice followed Vanilla Ice playing a version of himself named Johnny Van Owen (Vanilla's real name is Robert Matthew Van Winkle from Dallas, TX) who has a posse of friends who are traveling via motorcycle gang to the next gig.
What follows is a set of misadventures and sequences of Vanilla Ice jumping white picket fences and riding his motorbike as he tries to impress the girl he likes. None of the movie seems to make a lick of sense, but for some reason, Cool As Ice is one of the most visually stunning films still to this day. There's an explanation for that too. The film is directed by David Kellogg whose only two feature film credits are this one and the live-action adaptation of Inspector Gadget with Matthew Broderick. While that might not impress anyone, his long list of music videos, big-name commercials, and working with Micahel Jackson on the Dangerous album might turn some heads. Add to that the writer who wrote Boardwalk Empire for HBO and Beverly Hills 90210 for those cheesy teenage moments along with the mafia which made their careers come full circle.
But perhaps the strangest crew member to board this hilarious romp is cinematographer Janusz Kami?ski. That name might ring a bell for some of you, but this was one of Janusz's first films he shot. The movie he was hired to make after this one was Schindler's List and has gone on to make all of Spielberg's movies since then, including West Side Story and The Fablemans. This brings up a pulsating question that needs to be answered in the quickest of ways. Did Spielberg watch Cool As Ice and say, "That movie was terrible, but hey, it looked fantastic. Can we get that cinematographer to make my holocaust movie?" I sure hope that's how it went down. The rest is history.
Cool As Ice is a film that never really knows what genre it's supposed to be in. At times, it's a silly escapade spoof film, whereas, at other times, it's a teenage romantic comedy, and other sequences make it a mafia thriller. And of course, there are moments where Vanilla Ice dances, raps, and rides his bike, along with one amazingly funny scene where the titular couple has a romance out by an unfinished housing development. With cringe-worthy dialogue like, "Drop that zero and get with the hero", it may seem like even Family Ties dad Michael Gross can't save this movie, but in some ways, Cool As Ice does what it sets out to do - entertain and showcase Vanilla Ice as a hero in his own mind. Does Vanilla Ice save the day? Hell yes, he does.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Cool As Ice dances its way to Blu-ray via Turbine Medien with a two Blu-ray Disc set that is housed inside a glorious Mediabook. The artwork is the famous poster for the film with Vanilla Ice and Minter with the motorbike against a purple background. There is a great booklet inside that features interviews, and essays about the movie. There is no digital code.
Cool As Ice comes with a 1080p HD transfer through Turbine Medien. It's not exactly clear if this is the same HD transfer from 2021 through Kino Lorber as there is no information that could be found to say otherwise. Either way though, this movie looks visually stunning more than 30 years later.
The color palette evokes that early '90s hypercolor sense of style with wild colors that cover the gamut of explosive visuals. both in the wardrobe and the background, these primary colors look amazing. The only real time the colors go flat is inside Michael Gross' house which utilizes the stale white, grey, and muted pastel motif. But once outside at either the insane mechanic shop or when Ice is driving. his motorbike, the colors are dazzling. Black levels are rather inky and rich and the skin tones are natural.
The detail is always sharp and vivid revealing every fade checkered line in Vanilla's hair. Closeups also reveal makeup applications, facial pores, the rubber tires on the bokes, leather textures in the wardrobe, and more. There is a nice layer of grain that keeps the movie in its filmic state that never really fluctuates, specifically in the darker sequences. There are no major issues with banding, aliasing, or video noise either. This is the best Cool As Ice has ever looked.
Finally, this release comes with a DTS-HD 5.1 audio option instead of the usual 2.0 mix and it sounds so much better than it ever did before. Both German and English audio tracks are available. Those sound effects are more robust and allow the bike engines to spread out more across the surround speakers. Those vehicles and bikes transfer smoothly from one speaker to the next quite often. Other than that, the soundscape is filled with dialogue and music. The dialogue is always clean, clear, and easy to follow while the song cues pack a big low end of bass. While it might not be everyone's cup of tea - music-wise, the sound is amazing. Other than that, the ambient noises of construction, people talking, and horses running all sound wonderful. The 5.1 option is definitely the way to go here.
This release comes packed with some fantastic extras that total about 74 minutes of material that includes new interviews with the main cast including Vanilla Ice and two audio commentaries, both of which are amazing. One of them is the MST3K/Rifftrax version of the film. Since this is a German release, there are German subtitles with each extra.
Cool As Ice is one of those rare moments in time when everyone in the world thought one musician was going to change the music landscape forever. With this movie, it was supposed to shoot Vanilla Ice to an even bigger spotlight. It didn't, but one thing is for sure - this is one silly but visually stunning movie still to this day. The 1080p HD image looks great and the new 5.1 DTS-HD audio track sounds excellent. All of the bonus features are unbelievably great and super funny to watch. This comes Highly Recommended!