The Rum Diary (Blu-ray Review)

Based on the novel by Hunter S. Thompson, The Rum Diary, follows itinerant journalist Paul Kemp (Johnny Depp) on an alcohol-fueled journey across the pristine island of Puerto Rico. Adopting the rum-soaked life of the island, Paul soon becomes obsessed with Chenault (Amber Heard) the wildly attractive fiancée of Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart), an American businessman involved in shady development deals. When Kemp is recruited by Sanderson to write favorably about his latest unsavory scheme, the journalist is presented with a choice: to use his words for the corrupt businessman’s financial benefit or use them to take him down. 




The Rum Diary is based on a novel by Hunter S. Thompson written when he was in his twenties. Friend/Actor/Producer Johnny Depp plays Paul Kemp a journalist from New York who moves to the beautiful island of Puerto Rico in 1960. Kemp who has a few unsuccessful novels wants to try his hand as a reporter for The San Juan Star, a struggling newspaper. Edward J Lotterman (Richard Jenkins) the editor in chief is at the end of his rope trying to keep the newspaper afloat. The paper is ailing from lack of commitment and too much indulgences. Armed with sunglasses and a hangover Kemp lands a job writing horoscopes for the newspaper.

Kemp befriends Bob Sala (Michael Rispoli) the newspapers staff photographer and soon to be running mate, offers to rent Kemp a room. Moburg (Giovanni Ribisi) who is a drunken, scary looking crime and religious reporter that works at the paper and who mostly comes out at night, also shares the flat, but he is rarely there.

Hal Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart) is an American business man who immediately tries to bring Kemp into a business deal. He wants Kemp to use his words to help promote his business ventures. To destroy the beautiful beaches of Puerto Rico and build money making resorts for Americans. This would leave the poor locals out of their homes and land. Kemp not wanting to, but is in need of the money decides to help Sanderson.

Kemp instantly becomes obsessed with Sanderson’s beautiful, sexy, playful, carefree fiancée, Chenault (Amber Heard).  “Why did she have to happen? I was doing so good without her.” Kemp, said after seeing Chenault the first time.

We not only see the beauty of Puerto Rico, but we get a glimpse of the how the poverty stricken natives lived in the 60’s. “More money is given to parking meters than to feed our children.”  But no one wants to hear about the truth, no one wants to think about children without food or a place to live.

This is a journey filled with rum, some use of drugs, cock fights, cops, romance, human flame throwers, and corruption. And how Paul Kemp finds his words “How to find out how to write like me”.


The Rum Diary Blu-ray is released in AVC MPEG-4  video codec, 1080p and 1.85:-1 framed aspect ratio presentation. It was shot in Super 16 which is used as a cinematic tongue for the 50’s and 60’s. The clothes are authentic for the period and are well presented. Flesh tones balanced. The landscape shots show detailed beauty of the island. The sky and ocean are shot with the brighter colors. Interior shots are darker but the images still pop, and you can see textures with accurate detail. The film was shot well and captured the time period beautifully.



The sound quality was very precise DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack. The sound quality was great throughout the whole film. The music level was never higher than the dialogue. The dialogue is very clear and strong. The ocean sound is very natural and gives you the pleasure of listening to the ocean without over taking over the scene. The film pulls you into the moment and keeps you there.


Special Features

A Voice Made of Ink and Rage: Inside The Rum Diary:

Johnny Depp talks about the making of the film and also his friendship with Hunter S. Thompson. He speaks about finding the book in Hunters basement and about getting it published. The cast talks about how special the making of this movie was to them and about Depp’s love for Thompson. They talk about Depp’s passion for the project. And the special place on set and ritual that was done for Thompson.  Also mentioned is the challenges that are faced shooting on location and costuming the period.

The Rum Diary Back-Story:

The feature begins with Hunter reading from the book. This is the 1998 film by Wayne Ewing. I actually watched this feature twice, I found it so interesting. Johnny Depp read excerpts from the book as well as Hunter himself. We also got to see Johnny and Hunter’s friendship first hand. If you are a fan of Hunter you will enjoy this feature very much.




Final Thoughts

I saw The Rum Diary in the theater and I forgot how much I enjoyed it. Depp’s performance was great, his facial expressions, little sounds he makes just makes it a entertaining and fun for the audience. There are some really strong performances by the supporting cast. Aaron Eckhart plays a great underhanded, despicable creep. He was amazing and showed his acting abilities. Giovanni Ribisi also a great performance and is just fun to watch, as well as Michael Rispoli and Richard Jenkins. The Rum Diary takes you on an adventure to Puerto Rico and gives you a glimpse into life there in 1960.

It’s not a secret that I am a fan of Johnny Depp but the passion that he showed for this project and all that he did to make this a reality make it that much better. Hunter S. Thompson saw something in Depp, he let him into his crazy world, and Johnny brought that world to life, and you can truly see his love for this man. May we all be blessed with that kind of friendship, that even death does not come between them.



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5 Responses to “The Rum Diary (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Brian White

    I will check this out one day. I’m not in a big hurry, but I like the cast!

  2. Kori Kemerer

    Great review! I have not seen this one yet. I will definitialy put it on my need to watch list.

  3. Patrick

    I will have to watch this eventually. Not sure when I will be able to fit it into my day. Good review though. This seems like a movie I should watch the same way I watched Fear and Loathing, completly Hammered

  4. Ailla

    Excellent review! I’m a huge fan of Hunter S. Thompson so I’m looking forward to watching the Back-Story. One of my co-workers from DISH liked the movie and he had no idea who Hunter S. Thompson was and he had never heard of Where the Buffalo Roam or Fear and Loathing. I’ve already added it to my Blockbuster @Home queue so I should expect it at my doorstep any day now. Thanks again for the review; I’m really looking forward to seeing this beautiful shot of Heard and Depp in front of this gorgeous car!

  5. Mary

    Thank you Ailla for your comment!
    Being a fan of Hunters I know your going to enjoy the The Rum Diary Backstory.