Sling Blade Blu-ray Review
'Sling blade' ambles on to Region free Blu-ray with a generally good looking 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer, framed pleasingly at 1.85:1.
While there's some grain to behold, it's not intrusive on any of the well lit exteriors but it jumps out at you on the interiors - possibly the result of using higher speed film stock for those scenes. However, I didn't find this so distracting that it pulled me out of the movie.
Verdant greens light up the exteriors, while skin tones look well rendered but blacks can occasionally appear a bit grey. In some scenes the shadows seem somewhat dense, but this might be down to the sensitivity of the film stock from 1996.
Image sharpness is very good with resultant nice textures being revealed in close-ups of faces. One or two shots look a tad soft but that looks like it was down to filters being used in camera on top of long lenses. The good news is there's no ringing caused by over sharpening or any other digital artefacts to really offend the eye.
While the sound on 'Sling blade' has been remixed into a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, no harm has been done to the intention of the original stereo mix.
It would have been wrong to attempt to make this something that it's not, as it's a dialogue led piece with the sonic focus being mainly on the centre speaker. Occasionally we hear ambient effects off to left or right, but nothing strays to the rears - which would only have taken attention away from the screen and detracted from our comprehension of the actor's dialects.
There's some bass to be heard, mainly during the interesting Daniel Lenois music score as well as in some intense sequences - but nothing earth moving.
The Dubbing Mixer has known better than to try to make the soundtrack the star of this well crafted movie.
All the extras on 'Sling blade' are in standard definition, which makes the viewer feel they have simply been ported from a previous incarnation on DVD, but they help build up a picture of one man and his movie.
- Audio Commentary
Writer/director/actor Billy Bob Thornton provides us with a fascinating amount of production detail as he explains his experiences and influences while making the film. He covers everything including casting choices, character motivations, the look and feel of the film, and directorial decisions in a very earnest, revealing commentary.
- Mr. Thornton Goes to Hollywood (SD, 67 min)
This chunky featurette comprises interviews with Billy Bob Thornton as well as friends who have known him a long time and just happen to act in his movies. We're given a good insight into his life and hear how he survived penniless times in his struggle to make it big in Tinseltown. He comes across as a down to earth guy who is passionate about his work.
- Bravo Profiles: Billy Bob Thornton (SD, 43 min)
This programme was part of a Bravo Channel series, and covers much of the same ground as the doco above, but perhaps in a lighter and more entertaining way. Shot mostly on location in Thornton's hometown in Arkansas, it reveals more light of his modest personality.
- A Roundtable Discussion (SD, 75 min)
Here we are privy to a conversation between Billy Bob Thornton, producer David Bushell and cast members Dwight Yoakam and Mickey Jones. They discuss many aspects of the film, childhood memories as well as how some of them met. They share memories of John Ritter who sadly passed away. Some good humoured banter makes this an enjoyable piece.
- A Conversation with Billy Bob Thornton and Robert Duvall (SD, 9 min)
A relationship based on mutual respect is displayed in this conversation with some nice recollections from both parties.
- A Conversation with Robert Duvall (SD, 8 min)
The Hollywood legend flies solo here with his opinions on his scene with Thornton and he relates how he became part of the picture. He shares his view on the film and how it was received back in 1986.
- A Conversation with Billy Bob Thornton and Composer Daniel Lanois (SD, 23 min)
Here, Thornton reveals his admiration of Lanois' music as we hear how they developed the music to create the emotion of the movie.
- The Return of Karl (SD, 4 min)
A real film buff gem here caught during rehearsals, with Thornton having an 'in character' conversation about family and friends with a couple of fellow actors.
- On the Set (SD, 9 min)
Here we get some behind-the-scenes footage with Thornton at work ("Billy Bob at Work"), a quick session from the band featured in the film ("Doyle's Band: The Johnsons"), and an alternative shot from the film's climax ("Doyle Gets Pummeled").
- Doyle's Dead (SD, 4 min)
This is a deleted scene, originally intended for the end titles with Mickey Jones singing a song. It's introduced by Billy Bob Thornton.
The excellent 'Sling Blade' arrives on Region free Blu-ray with a generally good 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer framed at 1.85:1. Colour and sharpness is good, although there's some noticeable grain on interior sequences where blacks can sometimes appear a bit grey.
The audio has been remixed into DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround but the original front weighted stereo mix has not been ruined. It's still all about the dialogue with occasional front left and right effects, but little if nothing from the rears and the subwoofer plays a discreet part in the mix.
A comprehensive range of featurettes make up the extras with plenty of detail for fans of this first class movie, its writer/director and cast.
As a movie it's superb.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £18.59
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- Audio Commentary