The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Warner - 1990
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 145 minutes
Disc Format: BD-25
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): English Dolby Digital 5.1, French/Spanish Dolby Stereo
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci, Paul Sorvino, Ray Liotta, Lorraine Bracco,
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Written by: Nicholas Pileggi & Martin Scorsese
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: February 16, 2010
"As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster"
From Nicholas Pileggi's true-life bestseller Wiseguy, GoodFellas explores the criminal life like no other movie. Directed and co-written by Martin Scorsese, it was judged 1990's Best Picture by the New York, Los Angeles and National Society of Film Critics. Electrifying performances abound and from a standout cast that includes Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Lorraine Bracco and Paul Sorvino, Joe Pesci walked off with the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award.
Goodfellas is a semi-fictional crime drama based on the non-fiction book Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi, who also co-wrote the screenplay for the film with Scorsese. It spans three decades and follows the rise and fall of three gangsters, Henry Hill (Liotta), Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci), and Jimmy The Gent Conway. Truly a classic piece of American Cinema, Goodfellas epitomizes the gangster genre and romanticizes the mob with endearing characters, visceral candor, and intriguing expose that is thoroughly engrossing. I am a fan and love the development of the relationships among the principles in Paulie, Henry, Tommy, Jimmy and Karen. This story defines the mafia mentality and their quest for wealth, respect and status. I love its depiction of how they view things from an entirely different perspective/approach. Case and point is the scene involving the mailman. Henry is having problems at home because of correspondence coming from the school relative to his flagrant truancy. No problem, lets beat the crap out of the mailman and threaten him with serious bodily harm should any more mail reach his house from the school. I love it. Their code of ethics is simple, never rat on your friends, and always keep your mouth shut. There are rules though, and if you decide that living the life suits you then you had best learn them. Principle among them is that you can't touch a made guy without permission. This is an offense that is punishable by death, no matter who you are. Unfortunately, Tommy's quick and violent temper lands himself, Jimmy and Henry in mortal danger for just such an offense. That event and the circumstances that immediately follow cement their relationship which would last for years. Of course the mob being the mob those events are not the secret they thought, nor forgotten as they'd hoped. The story is narrated by and revolves primarily around Henry and sees him go from a kid enamored by the style, wealth, and brashness of the mafia to a person of stature among their ranks. He takes to the life of an earner through means of intimidation, bribery, robbery, and pillaging. He falls in love with and marries Karen, who quickly finds out that the life of a gangster wife has more down than upsides however she enjoys it when live is good and adapts. Although a person of stature Henry will never achieve the untouchable status of a made man, since he is of Irish heritage. After years of riding the lightning Henry finds that when the chips are down the only person he can truly trust is himself. The life he loved the people he respected are gone. He is an average nobody, left to live the rest of his life a schnook.
Goodfellas is a classic film that is oft quoted and fondly memorialized as one of the best gangster flicks ever. It's evocative, timeless, powerful and richly entertaining. Scorsese is at his best as he engages the audience by drawing us into the world inhabited by these characters and ensuring that we become invested in them. He assembled a superb cast, headlined by Robert DeNiro, Paul Sorvino, Joe Pesci, Ray Liotta, and Lorraine Bracco. There are a plethora of supporting roles that contribute to the success and credibility of the acting ensemble. Many of them will be familiar to fans of the HBO TV series The Sopranos. Goodfellas was nominated for 6 Academy Awards including Best Picture (it lost to Dances with wolves). Among its many accolades it has been deemed "culturally significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. Other than the Godfather it is generally considered the best mob/gangster ever, although I am sure there are those that would place this film ahead of it. I find it to be one of those films that never loses its appeal and holds up extremely well under repeat viewings. I appreciate the fact that Warner has released it in this 20th Anniversary Blu-ray Book edition however the fact that is contains the same video/audio encoding as the previous release makes it a less compelling offering for those that already own it in high definition.
The rating is for strong/brutal violence, pervasive language, drug content, and thematic material.
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:
Goodfellas comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner featuring 1080p VC-1 encoded video that has an average bitrate of 19 mbps and lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 channel audio that has a constant bitrate of 640 kbps.
I was pleasantly surprised at how good this encoding looked. Images were fairly resolute with consistent sharpness and two dimensional depth during brightly lit scenes. Fine detail was apparent in close ups and many of the long range daytime camera shots of the city locales showed off the texture/physical makeup of the streets and structures. Resolution wasn't absolute and there were instances where the video took on a flatter perspective that called fidelity into question. Colors were rendered cleanly and appeared satisfying with no signs of bleeding or excess saturation. Flesh tones were well varied and looked solid. Blacks were a bit muddy and shadow detail was just average. An anomaly at approximately 76 minutes in (a black line in the middle of the screen) is readily apparent and has been present in every version of this film that I have seen on home video. I have no idea why Warner doesn't re-master it as this film easily justifies it. Grain is present with noticeable texture and consistency that appears natural. The lack of lossless audio is noted and disappointing. The dated elements present in the soundtrack recording are obvious. Dynamics are not authoritative which leaves moments of impact lacking in potency. Dialogue sounds articulate through the center channel and blends well with the main channels to produce a seamless soundstage that hovers closely to the front of the room. Surround activity is reserved for ambient background filler and diffuse support of the music score whose main body was delivered through the front three channels. There was enough spatial quality in this mix so that the soundscape occasionally broadened and felt more involving. Clarity and detail were excellent which paid dividends during the film's active and quieter moments. Bass frequencies were held to the upper registers which didn't leave much work for the subwoofer but I never missed them.
- Commentaries tracks: Cast/Crew and Cop/Crook
- Getting made featurette - 29 minutes, featuring new/vintage interviews chronicling the making of Goodfellas
- Made men: The Goodfellas legacy - 13 minutes - featuring the perspectives of various filmmakers
- Paper is cheaper than film - Sketch to screen comparisons
- The workaday gangster - 8 minute feature
- Theatrical trailer
- Comes packaged in a 34 page book with photos, talent files, production background and more
- Bonus DVD: Public Enemies - The golden age of gangster film - 105 minute documentary hosted by Alec Baldwin
Goodfellas is a classic American film that is beloved by many and heralded as one of the best gangster movies of all time. This 20th Anniversary Blu-ray Book Edition releases marks its second foray onto Blu-ray Disc from Warner Brothers. It makes for a worthy keepsake for fans although those that already own it in high definition may not be so inclined since there is no difference in audio/video quality. While this isn't a technically strong presentation I found that it conveyed the film's elements just fine. The supplied bonus supplements aren't extensive however they are pertinent and add to the enjoyment of this Blu-ray offering from Warner. If you don't already own Goodfellas in high definition or by some chance have never seen it this set comes highly recommended. The choice to upgrade from a previous high definition release will depend on how badly you want the collectible Blu-ray Book and Bonus DVD documentary. Regardless of which incarnation you own this film deserves a place in every movie collection.
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