Gran Torino Blu-ray Review
PictureGran Torino comes to us with a lavish, quality video rendition in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1 widescreen. High Definition 1080p truly does this movie justice, giving it a rich, deep look that shines through in every single frame. Detail is exceptional, showing up every line on this film veteran's face, every patch of peeling paint on his neighbour's property. There is no room for softness, and Eastwood has no fondness for grain to add to the gritty feel of his work, the image happily remains devoid of any noise that would normally distract viewers from enjoying the proceedings. And despite the near-perfect nature of the presentation, we still have no signs of digital enhancement processes - DNR or edge enhancement or the like - so we get quite a natural look for this quiet but powerful affair. Although limited by its predominant, somewhat dilapidated, gang-neighbourhood setting, colours still manage to ring through in vivid clarity, whether it be the deep racing green of the '72 Gran Torino itself, or the scant lush greenery around the place, it all looks good. There are no big screen effects or breathtaking landscapes on offer here, and thus little to show off your equipment with, but with solid, deep blacks to allow for perfect night sequences and shadowing, this trademark-shot Eastwood movie still looks spectacular.
SoundAlthough we get a technically superior Dolby TrueHD track to accompany this powerful movie, the track itself seldom has anything to show off its true power. Still, that is just the nature of this character-driven movie, with the all-important dialogue taking precedence over everything else and getting sound representation, largely across the fronts and centre channels. I did find Eastwood's gruff 'Dark Knight' mumblings sometimes difficult to decipher on the Big Screen, and they do often call for you to have the volume turned up to 11 but on Blu-ray you can still find a way of hearing all that is on offer. Effects are extremely limited, this is not the kind of film to give you anything more than the gruff noise of car engines to contend with, but quite little atmospheric moments kick into play across the surrounds, allowing for some authenticity for the setting. Similarly, Eastwood uses a quaint and often non-existent score for the film, remarkably quiet to the point of making to sometimes strain to wonder whether there is actually any music even playing. I know his intention with this was to make the score as unobtrusive as possible, so that it never distracts you from the power of the movie itself, but occasionally he goes a little to the extreme. So whilst this is excellent presentation, it is difficult for the score not to be marginally affected by the limited material that it is presenting, material which allows for limited surround use, limited directionality, little rear action and almost no bass.
ExtrasOddly there are extremely limited extras on this release, with the only decent extra actually a High-Def exclusive. The two standard extras are mostly focussed on cars, the Gran Torino taking centre stage, with a 10 minute Featurette - Manning The Wheel - looking at the first cars of some of the main cast and crew and a 5 minute effort - Gran Torino: More Than a Car - not looking at how the film is more than just about a car, but actually looking instead at the bond between man a vehicle as a bunch of car show patrons talk about their love of cars. The Eastwood Way is actually quite a good extra, spending nearly twenty minutes 'exploring the actor/director's filmmaking process up close' - but most interestingly looking at the reasons behind Eastwood's return to acting, what drew him to the role and how he bathed the film in rich Hmong culture.
VerdictGran Torino is a tour-de-force bookend to legend Clint Eastwood's prolific acting career, taking him somewhat full circle and allowing him to show a little bit of all of the nuances that have made his characters so powerful over the years - from the scary threatening menace to the haunted past and bitter regrets, to the charm and old-fashioned finesse with which this man carries himself. The movie itself ranges from humorous to harrowing, a skilfully constructed, no-frills-directed character study full of emotional resonance and moving performances. On Blu-ray we get superior video and decent enough audio, despite the inherent restrictions of the relatively quiet, small production, and a couple of limited extras to round off the disc. Somewhat underplayed on release, this tense, dramatic and yet quaintly affecting piece comes highly recommended, whether or not you are a big Eastwood fan. And if you are, you would no doubt already have it.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £22.31
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