PictureA Time to Kill arrives on Blu-ray slightly wider than its theatrical 2.35:1 release, framed now at 2.40:1 using the VC-1 codec at 1080p. This edition of the film eclipses the earlier original flipper disc I have in every aspect. That disc of mine showed excessive enhancement, definite black crush and colour bleed especially on the reds. None of this is apparent on this edition however.
The opening titles themselves are much sharper and once the frame opens with Carl Lee's daughter shopping for groceries in the sleepy ramshackle community you know you're in for a much better visual experience. The colours are far bolder, richer yet still contained within their borders. Scenes are predominantly bathed in the South Mississippi sunshine, adding a red or golden hue to the proceedings. This does encroach somewhat on some of the skin tones which whilst mainly being spot on sometimes do verge into the red a little too much.
Earlier compression artefacts have more or less been eradicated. There is no sign of noise or gradients however the very slightest of enhancement can still be seen in just a few frames, but seriously it's hardly worth mentioning.
Detail is head and shoulders over the earlier release with structure easily identified within the forests, the towns people, skin and clothing textures. I did wonder if some DNR had been applied but now discount this after a quick comparison between this new release and the DVD edition. Depth of field is superb from those opening scenes, the shots of the Mississippi town, the people around the courtroom, the courtroom scenes themselves and the pre-court meetings in Brigance's offices.
Head and shoulders over the DVD disc, a definite step up so if this film appeals to you then the video upgrade alone should justify a quick purchase.
SoundWarner grace us yet again with an English Dolby Digital TrueHD track and this is mirrored by an equally acceptable standard Dolby Digital version. Both steer to 5.1 channels however don't expect either track to stretch your surrounds to any degree. A comparison between the two English tracks do indicate that they are mainly similar in tone and range however the TrueHD variety just pips its slightly poorer cousin to the post in having a little more dynamism in the upper range, just a tad more thump when needed as the fire in Brigance's home burns or when he finds the explosives under his house earlier in the film.
Dialogue again is the order of the day and this is firmly rooted up front and is more or less acceptable. I did find though that it was a little weak, not in comparison to the backing score as I found the whole mix a little light, and had to increase the volume a couple of notches to get the best from it. Once this has been done though you'll not have to worry about what the people on screen are saying.
There is some ambiance from very faint crickets in the background, some rain and thunder effects later in the movie, the crowds outside the courtroom, each faction chanting their slogans and now more easily identified than the earlier DVD edition where these chants just seemed to merge in with each other. That ambiance though is more or less short lived but the frontal array puts up a good case with adequate panning by vehicles from left to right and the background score adding some width and depth.
Not a full on bells and whistles track but then that's really not what is really needed for this presentation. It just just what is needed and no more.
ExtrasThe only items which Warner see fit to include on this disc are a standard definition trailer and a digital copy of the movie you can place on your portable device. At least that's something I suppose but still there is a lot of material which could, and should, have been included.
VerdictI am proud to say that A Time to Kill is one of my guilty pleasures, it's like a burly rugby player standing up and confessing his love of Brokeback Mountain. I know the story has its faults and I know it is all too sugary sweet in places but I cannot help but enjoy this film. Every time I watch it the important scenes continually rope me in, and still to this day I'm left with a lump in my throat during that final summation.
Technically this has never been a great release and whilst this edition does up the stakes somewhat on both the video and audio front the continued lack of extras is a complete let down. This is certainly worth mentioning and the final score reflects this.
You'll either enjoy this film or you won't, and if you fall into the latter category I am sure you'll be wondering why I recommend this disc. It's a good enough watch, not demanding and it's not one you can re-watch every so often but I do enjoy seeing it every couple of years. At those times it gets those emotional strings pulled every time. I welcome this into my Blu-ray collection and I hope you do also but the decision to rent or buy outright I will have to leave up to you and you alone.
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