The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Tristar/Sony Pictures - 1995
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 105 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): English/French Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French
Starring: Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, Russell Crowe, Leonardo DiCaprio, Lance Henriksen, Pat Hingle, Keith David
Directed by: Sam Raimi
Music by: Alan Silvestri
Written by: Simon Moore
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: September 8, 2009
"Think you’re quick enough?"
In this edgy and darkly humorous Western, a mysterious young woman rides into the lawless town of Redemption to settle an old score that has haunted her since she was a child. She becomes swept up in a deadly quick-draw tournament and, in order to win her revenge, must compete in a contest in which gunslingers from all over put their lives on the line for fame and fortune.
I have owned The quick and the dead on DVD for a number of years and have seen it several times. It is a film that I realize isn’t particularly good but has always been a guilty pleasure of mine. It was the very next disc I popped in for review after reviewing Silverado. While it doesn’t necessarily compare I still find it to be fun, mindless entertainment that I find entertaining. I have always been drawn to the David versus Goliath premise and when you add in the retribution factor that heightens interest all the more. I know that this is far from being a new cinematic concept and the screenplay is a little cheesy but one of the things I find most alluring about this film is the cast. I am a big Gene Hackman fan (“if you live to see the dawn it’s because I allow it”!) and while this is far from one of his best he still pulls it off with credibility and class. The supporting cast is loaded with familiar faces, some of whom have been in many classic westerns. Woody Strode and Pat Hingle are Hollywood veterans that are right at home portraying characters in the western genre. Keith David and Lance Henriksen are two of my favorite character actors and have small but memorable roles here. The less dominant characters portrayed by Actors Kevin Conway, Tobin Bell, and Mark Boone Junior all made viable additions to the films dark theme. Fresh from his superb performance in Forrest Gump, Gary Sinese had a small cameo role that unfortunately wasn’t much of a part.
I always find it interesting to see actors like Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe (who recently worked together in Body of lies) in roles they played before achieving star status. Both men have become huge box office draws since but back in 1994 when they began shooting this film I am sure that neither had no idea of what the future held. Dicaprio had actually gotten an Oscar nomination for his role in What’s eating Gilbert Grape? This film’s most dramatic scene involved him and he pulled it off quite well. Crowe’s style remains pretty much the same today as it was then when playing similar types. That isn’t a criticism because he has certainly proven himself to be versatile. In my opinion the weak link in the chain was female lead and producer Sharon Stone. Her often corny dialogue, stoic delivery and perfect makeup made for a less than believable characterization of this tortured and tormented woman who desperately seeks to avenge the death of her father. The ending is a bit corny and derived but that’s okay with me because the build up (although predicable) works thanks in large part to Sam Raimi’s capable direction and Hackman’s despicable John Herod. I like how the contest plays out, the conflict between the kid (Dicaprio) and Herod, The history between Herod and Cort (Crowe), and Herod’s steely demeanor, larger than life stature and the inevitability of what is to come. The plot is simple and the storyline isn’t very fulfilling but the film’s smaller themes combine with its aforementioned strong points to provide a few laughs, and a few thrills that add up to an average but entertaining western.
The rating is for violence and language.
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:
The quick and the dead comes to Blu-ray from Tristar/Sony Pictures featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 27 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel audio that has an average bitrate of 3 mbps.
I own the original 2000 DVD release of The quick and the dead and always thought it looked fairly decent. I never got around to picking up the Superbit DVD release so I can’t comment regarding any improvements it may offer. In looking at this high definition presentation there is no question that it improves upon the DVD in nearly every respect. This is a noticeably grainy film that has a overtly gritty aesthetic that some viewers may find objectionable. Its rendering is generally consistent however on occasion it can become more prominent and a little distracting. It shares this in common with the DVD although the higher resolution here can make it more obvious. The range of colors is limited and the filtering applied permeates many scenes with golden highlights. This in turn leaves skin tones appearing sun splashed and warm but not unnatural looking. At times this transfer looks very good and reveals plenty of fine detail and crisp definition. Sharpness wavers here and there (especially in low lighting) but in most instances reveals delineated edges and resolute textures on surfaces. Fidelity can sometimes fluctuate, I noticed it during several scene transitions, resulting in brief moments of poorly resolved images. One example occurred in the scene where John and Clay are sitting in John’s parlor in front of the window as the rain pours outside. The wide angle shot just before it transitions to the close up of John degrades and looks almost fuzzy by comparison once the shot switches to John. This is present on the DVD as well but due to its lower resolution is less apparent. Contrast is slightly elevated, and with the exception of only a few scenes that bloom, doesn’t adversely affect image quality. Blacks are deep and punchy with above average perception of low level detail in shadowy areas and mixed lighting. I noticed minor digital noise in a few backgrounds and the print contains its share of speckles and debris. This appears to have been made from the same source as the DVD as the print damage is present in the same locations. For those that may be interested in upgrading this presentation , while not perfect, does yield better overall image quality when compared to the DVD.
The lossless Dolby TrueHD soundtrack was quite good and featured lively dynamics, clearly articulated dialogue, and plenty of surround activity. The film’s action based elements contained a blend of atmospheric and discrete sounds that created a fairly active soundfield that combined music, flying debris, and multi-directional panning effects that provided a good sense of envelopment. Low frequency effects had robust authority and tactile impact that added pop to explosions and gunfire. Comparing this presentation to the Dolby Digital sound on the DVD yielded a discernibly wider soundstage with smoother high frequency detail and slightly tighter bass. I was very pleased with it and thought it sounded quite good.
This title includes Sony’s new Movie IQ features which requires a BD-Live connection and allows fans the option of viewing continuously updated details on the cast and crew and to explore relevant trivia such as production facts, music, and soundtrack information which are tied into scenes in the movie. This can be turned on or off and is activated by the press of a button on your player’s remote. I think it’s a great concept and I found the interface easy to use.
- (HD) BD Previews
- Da Vinci Code
- Casino Royale
- A river runs through it
- Damages season 1
- Sky crawlers
- Rudo Y Cursi
- BD-Live enabled
The quick and the dead doesn’t fall into the category of a classic western but I find it to be enjoyable, mindless entertainment that features plenty of western action and good direction that is built around a multi-faceted cast. It’s high definition debut on Blu-ray appears to have been minted from the same source as the DVD and offers quality that ranges from very good to average. The overall result isn’t a disappointment as I have never seen or heard this film look better. I like Sony’s new Movie IQ interactive feature but this disc’s lack of any other bonus features is notable. I have always enjoyed this film and am glad to have it in my Blu-ray collection.
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