The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Paramount - 2010
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 110 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, French/Spanish/Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Hailee Steinfeld, Josh Brolin, Barry Pepper
Written & Directed by: Joel & Ethan Coen based on the novel by Charles Portis
Music by: Carter Burwell
Region Code: 1
Blu-ray Disc release Date: June 7, 2011
"Punishment comes one way or another"
True Grit is a powerful story of vengeance and valor set in an unforgiving and unpredictable frontier where justice is simple and mercy is rare. Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld), is determined to avenge her father's blood by capturing Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), the man who shot and killed him for two pieces of gold. Just fourteen, she enlists the help of Rooster Cogburn (Academy Award® Winner Jeff Bridges), a one-eyed, trigger-happy U.S. Marshall with an affinity for drinking and hardened Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (Academy Award® Winner Matt Damon) to track the fleeing Chaney. Despite their differences, their ruthless determination leads them on a perilous adventure that can only have one outcome: retribution.
I went to see True grit during its theatrical run. As a fan of the original film which starred John Wayne, Kim Darby and Glen Campbell I looked forward to seeing Joel and Ethan Coen’s screen adaptation of Charles Portis’ novel. Like the original it features a subtle moral flavor, light air of levity and well integrated action that is rarely ostentatious as it adds to the film’s dramatic elements. This is a character driven film that establishes a rewarding connection that is enriched over the course of the story. Many times westerns employ long winded shootouts and dramatic standoffs that seem to define them as a genre. That isn’t the case with Portis’ story. Rooster’s showdown with Ned Pepper and his gang notwithstanding, we are treated to a superbly crafted narrative filled with subtle moments that effectively engage via wonderfully composed dialogue and pitch perfect interplay. The characters and story evolve while the plot’s focus remains constant. Tom Chaney is going to pay for what he did come hell or high water. As with the original, this film doesn’t work without a credible Mattie Ross. As good as Kim Darby was in the role, Hailee Steinfeld is better. Her performance is the connective tissue that links all of the others. I find it incredible that someone so young can be so well spoken, composed, and mature. She never faltered in her authentic portrayal of the passion and unflinching resolve that Mattie would need to persevere under such conditions.
My other reason for seeing this film in the theater was Jeff Bridges. I have been a fan for years and was anxious to see his interpretation of Rooster Cogburn. I enjoyed his performance, gravelly voice and all, but not quite as much as John Wayne’s. I think I would give the slightest edge in terms of chemistry to Darby/Wayne as well. On the other hand I prefer the Bridges/Damon match over Wayne/Campbell. I think that is due in part to Campbell’s ineffectiveness as an actor but also due to the Coen’s script which places deeper emphasis on the banter/interplay between Cogburn/LaBoeuf. The cast as an ensemble is equally deserving of praise as everyone adds a credible element that enriches the film. The Coen Brothers are proven filmmakers and their efforts here serve to reinforce that. True Grit is a frontier fable that successfully blends action/adventure with evocative themes that have a timeless appeal. I thoroughly enjoyed this big screen adaptation and if pressed would have to give it the slightest edge over the original film.
The rating is for some intense sequences of western violence including disturbing images.
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:
True Grit comes to Blu-ray Disc from Paramount Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 31 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 4 Mbps.
This is a near reference quality high definition transfer that looks spectacular. Images are transparent with exquisite detail and a near infinite sense of depth. Close ups and mid level shots are incredibly detailed and revealing of even the subtlest nuance visible within facial features, clothing, and objects/backgrounds within the frame. Fidelity is never in question regardless of the camera’s perspective. At times I found the visuals onscreen to be breath taking. Colors are kept within the scope of the time frame which means lots of browns, grays, and blacks. The stylized color palate deemphasizes primaries but the dusty earth tones have a rewarding quality nonetheless. Skin tones are on the vanilla side but texturally revealing. Blacks are rich, gradationally strong and dynamic which helps them pop during sequences that contained both light and dark elements. Detail in uneven light and darkened environments reveal discerning shapes and structure in backgrounds/objects. Grain is present and maintains a filmic textural essence that presides over the presentation without intrusion. I found this to be an impressive and pristine quality high definition video offering that is on par with the film’s theatrical presentation.
This DTS-HD Master Audio presentation features extended dynamics built around a nicely balanced surround mix that sounds great. This isn’t what I consider to be an aggressive soundtrack. Dialogue and music play more of a role than then the brief western gunfire exchanges but there are several sequences that allow this mix to flex its dynamic muscle. Clarity and detail are exemplary which reveal lots of subtle nuance in the recording. Bass isn’t pulse pounding but it definitively augments the richness and tangibility of small arms and rifle fire. Dialogue was crystalline with excellent intonation and descriptive character. The beautifully crafted music sounds smooth, and airy with a deep, room filling quality that is engaging.
- (HD) Mattie’s True Grit – 5 minute featurette
- (HD) From bustle to buckskin: Dressing for the 1880’s – 8 minute featurette
- (HD) Colts, Winchesters, & Remingtons: The guns of a post civil war western – 4 minute featurette
- (HD) Re-creating Fort Smith – 11 minute featurette
- (HD) The cast – 5 minute featurette
- (HD) Charles Portis: The greatest writer you’ve never heard of… - 30 minute documentary
- (HD) The cinematography of True Grit – 3 minute featurette
- (HD) Theatrical trailer
- DVD/Digital Copy of True Grit
Based on the novel of the same name by Charles Portis True Grit is the second big screen adaptation of this frontier fable that successfully blends action/adventure with evocative and timeless themes that revolve around mutually earned respect and redemption. It features a marvelous cast, apt direction and superlative cinematography by Roger Deakins. This marks my second viewing of True Grit and I will admit to enjoying it even more this time. I am a fan of the original film but can’t help but feel that this one is just a bit better. It makes its home video debut on Blu-ray Disc featuring beautiful high definition video, involving lossless sound and a decent supplemental package that is highlighted by a documentary on True Grit novelist Charles Portis. I am pleased to give this excellent Blu-ray offering from Paramount Home Entertainment my highest recommendation. Enjpy!
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