PicturePresented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic ratio, the picture is wonderful. There are no signs of print damage, so dust and scratches are non-existent. Colours are spot on, flesh tones look natural and colours when particularly vivid show no signs of bleed. If there is any criticism, the picture is a little muted and soft for the most part, but as I haven't another version to hand, I'm not sure if that's due to the look of the movie or a side-effect of the high definition transfer that this has. Blacks were deep and showed no sign of blocking and detail levels were fine. Occasional edge enhancement was noticeable but this wasn't enough to distract from the movie itself. No real complaints here, other than the muted look (which may be the style itself).
SoundBoasting a Dolby Digital & DTS, this movie makes you wonder why they bothered. There is nothing wrong with the soundtracks, but as this is a dialogue heavy movie, the only speaker getting a workout is the centre speaker, which luckily sounds great. The dialogue is crisp, clear and natural and is sufficiently loud enough, more so on the DTS track. Left and Right channels are used mostly for effects and music and surrounds get only a minor amount of use, such as when a plane flies overhead, but there isn't any real punch either, so the LFE hardly gets a noticeable look in. The DTS track edges it for me, as it is slightly louder, clearer and more bass is present for the music, but this is not a soundtrack that will make you rush and buy a new amplifier! However, when all is said and done, as dialogue is the main thrust of this film, it is presented here well enough.
ExtrasDisk one contains the commentary track featuring director Barry Sonnenfeld, which appears to be the same one as found on the R1 laserdisc. This is the sole extra to be found on disk 1. Disk 2 kicks off with “Look at Me”, a 27 minute featurette which shows more the making of and how it was brought to the screen. It's definitely nice to hear and see Elmore Leonard being honest and saying that most of his books that have been made into movies, focused on the action and not on the characters, which is the opposite of this, which is probably why it works. Also, a little known fact to me was that Danny DeVito was originally envisioned to play Chili Palmer, although DeVito turned it down for the titular “Shorty” due to him working on Matilda, so it was offered to John Travolta, who wasn't keen until Quentin Tarantino told him to “take this script”. It gets a little gushy in places but definitely interesting and certainly more honest than some I've seen. “Wiseguys & Dolls”, the next featurette which runs for 20 minutes, which focuses more on Russo, Lindo and Farina's characters, while it's not as good as the first featurette, it is interesting enough, although I agree that Russo's character wouldn't work as a dumb, ditzy character. “The Graveyard Scene” is a 4 minute featurette which explains the deleted scene and primarily that although Sonnenfeld feels it's the funniest scene from the movie, the reason for the removal was that it simply didn't fit in with the flow. So, after that featurette, we have the scene which features a young Ben Stiller as the director. “Going Again” runs for just over 5 minutes and elaborates a certain scene where they didn't stop rolling, because DeVito understanding that when you yell “CUT!”, lighting and other factors can change, so he made it run to help Sonnenfeld as such. More interesting than it sounds as it shows DeVito just going and going. Party Reel is a 6 minute “end of wrap” reel, which is sort of outtakes etc. but after one viewing, it's plenty. “Sneak Park - Be Cool”, is an 8 minutes glimpse at the sequel “Be Cool”, which is as it suggests, a behind the scenes look at “Be Cool”. While it's ok for an early glimpse, it is a very typical EPK-type feature. “Page To Screen Look At Get Shorty” is a 30 minute documentary that follows the creation of the book, through to Danny DeVito purchasing the movie making rights and then to the production, from screen writing to making the movie, as well as the fact it almost didn't get made as it was initially dumped by the original studio! It is really quite fascinating and Travolta comes across as reasonably humble and less egotistical than I'd have thought, as does Hackman who didn't have any confidence in his portrayal until he saw the finished movie. Even more unbelievable was the fact Sonnenfeld hated the movie when he'd finished, thinking that it was not funny, with no action and totally boring. It's certainly enlightening and worth viewing. Rounding off the extras is the stills gallery, the trailer for Get Shorty and some other, more eclectic movie trailers, such as The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
VerdictAs stated, I do like this movie. It's funny with some memorable dialogue, a solid cast and doesn't rely on anything except storytelling to weave its magic. It's probably the best I've seen the movie in terms of transfer and although I could hope for more from the soundtrack, it does its job well. The extras present give a very good look into the making of this movie and it is quite honest and open in not only the troubles encountered getting the movie to the screen, but also refreshing to see some A-List actors having concerns as well as being less egotistical than we would think they are. Sure, the timing of the disk seems to be a cash-in on the sequel, but this is a good, fun movie and may well be more entertaining than Be Cool. Definitely worth adding to your list.
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