The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: 20th Century Fox - 1969
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 110 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Lossless, English/Spanish/French Mono
Subtitles: English, Spanish, Cantonese, Korean
Starring: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Katherin Ross, Strother Martin, Jeff Corey, Henry Jones
Directed by: George Roy Hill
Music by: Burt Bacharach
Written by: William Goldman
Blu-ray Disc release Date: May 13, 2008
"Raindrops keep fallin’ on my head…"
The Sundance Kid (Redford) is the frontier's fastest gun. His sidekick, Butch Cassidy (Newman), is always dreaming up new ways to get rich fast. If only they could blow open a baggage car without also blowing up the money-filled safe inside... Or remember that Sundance can't swim before they escape a posse by leaping off a cliff into rushing rapids. So Butch and Sundance pack their guns, don new duds, and, with Sundance's girlfriend (Katharine Ross), head down to Bolivia. A winner of four Academy Awards (including best screenplay and best song), here is a thoroughly enjoyable blend of fact and fancy done with true affection for a bygone era and featuring the two flashiest, friendliest funniest outlaws who ever called out "hands up!"
I had never seen Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in its entirety going into this review. I had caught bits and pieces of it on television but that was about it. I remembered liking the parts of it that I had seen. After sitting through it I found that my impressions were indeed accurate. This is a fun film plain and simple. It is a western in every sense of the word (or genre) but it has kind of a more modern edge to its use of dialogue and a differing thematic approach. From what I understand there were some liberties taken with the characters in the film compared to their historical counterparts. There is enough factual data in the story to make a good historical connection though. In any event it really does not matter as the intent is to entertain and this is where this film succeeds in my opinion. Newman and Redford have superb onscreen chemistry which helps lend credibility and in this case lovability to Butch and Sundance.
The supporting players are wonderful and feature lots of familiar faces, some of which are still acting today. Katherine Ross did a fine job in her role as Etta but I didn’t see that the part required any real dramatic or comedic ability on her part. It was the interaction between Newman and Redford that set the tone. Watching the bonus features revealed that the studio really didn’t want Redford for the part. It was Newman and Director George Roy Hill along with writer Bill Goldman that talked them into using him. Well I guess that they were right. This film works not only because of the casting but also the great balance it maintains between its western and comedy based elements. I am sorry that I had not taken the time prior to this review to sit down and watch it but hey better late than never.
The rating is for some sensuality, and violence.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid comes to Blu-ray from Fox with 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 31 mbps and DTS-HD Master Audio Lossless sound with an average bitrate of 3.2 mbps. The film opens using an intentional sepia toned look which lasts for the introductions of Butch and Sundance (5 minutes of so in) and then fades into the use of standard color. The film does not use an extensive color palette nor are colors overly vibrant or vivid. They do come across naturally and I never found my attention to be drawn to them in a negative way. Skin tones looked great with noticeable texture and variety among the varying cast members. Black levels and shadow detail were not consistent throughout the film. At times blacks were fairly deep with perceptible gradations. Other times they were flat in appearance with a more gray than black tonality. Shadow detail was similar in that some scenes revealed good depth and visible detail in dark or shadowy areas while others seem to lack those qualities. Noise was not really a problem. A few of the nighttime shots were grainy which made them appear a little noisy but other than that I thought the image appeared noise free.
I think that the one element of this presentation that will probably garner the most complaints from viewers is its lack of fine detail. This is not an overly sharp film to begin with and at times it almost appears as though the camera is out of focus. I can’t say for sure that is not the case but the result is the same. Images lack depth and definitive resolve which makes them appear less dimensional. There are times when definition improves and some intricate minutia is visible but these instances are few. I had no expectations going in with respect to how the video was going to look. For fans hoping for top tier high definition video I think that they will be disappointed.
The 5.1 channel lossless audio was a bit disappointing. The majority of the audio was delivered through the center channel although occasionally the remaining channels, including the subwoofer were put to use. The track sounded compressed and lacked the openness, separation and sonic presence associated with the better high resolution audio mixes that I have heard. I realize that this is not a new recording however this probably could have been better. The low frequency effects mixed to the subwoofer sounded bloated and forced. This made them noticeable which took away from the experience. Dialogue was reproduced with good intelligibility although lacking in texture. There was one great moment though. The scene when the Hole in the wall gang inadvertently uses too much dynamite in an attempt to open a safe on a railroad car. They blow the entire car and safe to smithereens. This sequence sounded great and provided a bright spot in an otherwise average audio presentation.
I enjoyed the bonus features presented here. What they lacked in quantity they more than made up for in quality. The two documentary features offered recent cast interviews, writer and production team interviews as well as recent talks with the studio executives from that time period. They provided excellent insights into the film and its roots which I found very appealing. The commentary tracks were quite good as well and worth the time spent. The deleted scene was nothing special and added nothing of value to the story. I thought that the presentation of the two documentaries in high definition was a nice touch.
- Commentary by Director George Roy Hill, Lyricist Hal David, Documentary Director Robert Crawford Jr. and Cinematographer Conrad Hill
- Commentary by Screenwriter William Goldman
- (HD)“All of what follows is true“ - The making od Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
- (HD)The Wild Bunch - The true tale of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
- Deleted scene - “Tent” with optional commentary
I have not seen Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid on DVD but from what I have read this offering on high definition Blu-ray Disc has been anticipated by fans hoping for an upgrade. I suspect that this will be an improvement over the DVD but I can‘t comment as to whether or not it will be a substantial one. I can tell you my overall opinion is that this is a fair video and average audio Blu-ray presentation. I think that fans will be happy to have it in their collections.
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