Within both the book and the film Thompson's surrogate, Raoul Duke, makes it his thesis to discover what happened to the American Dream. The '60s had just ended, and the idealism and push for social change and progress had begun to fall into disillusionment, despair, and confusion. The film uses occasional newsreel footage and songs from the period to evoke this shifting essence, summed up beautifully in the famous "wave" speech. The movie cunningly makes its points throughout not by making pat statements or treading on tired cliches, but through Gilliam's masterful use of tone. The film's meaning is so ever-present, yet also so subtly and naturally engaged, that many critics mistakenly panned the movie as being "pointless."
The issue with this disc comes in questioning exactly what you want from it. If all you want is a gorgeous transfer, great sound, and a couple of special features (a standard "Spotlight on Location" special made before the film premiered and a couple of rough deleted scenes), this Blu-ray is precisely what you're looking for. The film is presented in its proper 2.35:1 ratio, which hasn't always been so with releases of Gilliam's films (some of us are STILL waiting for a proper Tideland release). The colors, as mentioned, are eye-popping, gorgeously rendered. The sound is DTS-HD Master Audio, which comes through particularly well with the film's fantastic soundtrack. Some of the dialog is a bit muffled and occasionally distorted, but this is playfulness on Gilliam's part, no defect with the disc.
However, if you're one of those people who cling to this film as a triumphant and unjustly ignored paean to the possibilities of cinema, it's hard to ignore the brilliant and exhaustive Criterion DVD that contains such incredible information about the film, including one of the greatest film commentaries ever recorded by the inestimable Dr. Thompson himself. Criterion is only just beginning to get into the Blu-ray game, so it may take a while for them to get around to Fear and Loathing. Therefore, if you want your lounge lizards, Bazooko Circus, and adrenochrome trips in beautiful high definition, and you want them now, this disc will certainly soothe your savage burn.