With a successful film in Romancing the Stone, the studio was eager to follow it up with another entry. The main problem with this was that Romancing the Stone was wrapped up in such a nice little ribbon that a sequel would no doubt feel a bit shoehorned—which is exactly the fate that befell Jewel of the Nile. Although it performed admirably at the box office, the film is not as fondly remembered as the film that preceded it and as such Jewel of the Nile isn’t exactly the romantic action comedy that we hoped for.
In this thrill-packed sequel to Romancing the Stone, Joan (Kathleen Turner) and Jack (Michael Douglas) are back in the fast lane on a perilous trek through the North African Desert. Not even treacherous tribes, deadly dungeons and dangerous villains can stop them from finding, once and for all, that mysterious “jewel.” Six months after Joan and Jack sailed off into the sunset, their relationship is looking rocky… at least until they encounter the mystery of the jewel. After Joan accepts an invitation to visit a Middle Eastern country as a guest of a sheik, she is abducted and finds herself involved in the mystery surrounding the jewel. Jack arrives to save her with their hot-tempered foe Ralph still in pursuit. The intrepid trio must brave the raging storms and fierce desert tries, whirling dervishes and the cavernous labyrinth of the evil Omar to solve this mystery and discover that life doesn’t always live up to romantic fantasies.
This sequel follows a pattern similar to another Fox studios release: Die Hard. With the first film so wildly entertaining and successful, a sequel seemed necessary. In the end, however, it just felt unnecessary as the sequel is really just a complete retread of the first film. The National Treasure films follow a similar path, with the sequel un-doing the romance that the first film helped build, only to reassemble it again in the end. It’s more tedious than anything and as fun as the ride is to get from point A to point B, since we’ve seen it all before it becomes decidedly less entertaining because of it.
Of course as awkward as the whole film is, Jewel of the Nile does retain some level of enjoyment. The highlight of the film is the actors, with Douglas, Turner and Danny DeVito making for a highly entertaining on-screen trio. In top of the actors we have the action sequences which still thrill, even if they do feel a bit stale by today’s standards. Quite frankly you won’t be watching this film for the writing or plot anyway, so it’s nice that the action here is still entertaining.
Overall I don’t think you’re actually going to get much out of this film that you didn’t already get from Romancing the Stone. This is a key example of a film that should have just been left alone, as revisiting it just didn’t prove to be of any value for anyone involved. They’re great characters to be sure, but there just isn’t much difference between the two stories to warrant picking this one up unless you already know you’re going to love it. Although it was an entertaining ride, Jewel of the Nile was just too much of an awkward juxtaposition of the old film mingled in with newer bits that just don’t quite work. Give it a Rental if you haven’t seen it and desire to watch it in full 1080p; otherwise just wait for it to repeat on cable.
There isn’t a whole lot here on the Blu-ray to check out, but it’s nice of Fox to at least carry over the wealth of extras from the Special Edition release. The disc arrives in a standard Elite Blu-ray case with the usual Fox inserts (advertisements for upcoming/current releases and a firmware notice). Menus for the film are simple and easy to navigate and there’s little about this set that people would find flaw with (except maybe the film itself). From a packaging representation, Fox has done another solid job, although it’s nothing that will blow you away.
Video for this release is a 1080p AVC encoded 2.35:1 encoded transfer. Technically speaking it’s a fine looking transfer, although the colors are just so…muted in this film. There’s nothing that really pops and it just looks very washed out. There’s detail to be seen, sure, but the video is just so bland looking. The audio mix, a DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio track, does sound rather nice and it has some decent surround usage, but, again, it fits the rest of this release perfectly in that it is just adequate enough to not be found completely dull. If you enjoyed the film then you’ll no doubt be impressed by this release, but if you’re like me and just found it moderately entertaining, then you can safely let this one go. Audio is also available in 4.0 Dolby Surround, French Surround and Spanish Mono. Subtitles are available in English, Spanish, Korean, Mandarin, and Cantonese.
Moving onto the extras we first have a commentary with director Lewis Teague which covers all the usual bases and is worth a listen if, again, you were a fan of the film. It’s interesting to hear how this film was shaped during its production, which is further delved into with the “Romancing the Nile: A Winning Sequel” (21:00, 480p) and “Adventures of a Romance Novelist” (8:02, 480p) extras. A round of “Deleted Scenes” (5:44, 1080p) and a “Theatrical Trailer” (1:34, 480p) wrap up the extras for this release, so while there isn’t a ton of stuff to check out, there still is enough to see if you didn’t pick up the previous Special Edition DVD release from 2006.
Overall this release doesn’t offer up a whole lot of new goodies to warrant moving up from the 2006 DVD release. Sure the video and audio is an HD upgrade, but if there’s truly a market out there for people who want mediocre 1980’s action/romance films on Blu-ray, then color me surprised.
Jewel of the Nile is now available on Blu-ray.