The Green Mile Blu-ray Review
The Green Mile looks absolutely stunning in its 1080p 1.78:1 aspect ratio, even though the OAR is 1.85:1, and is a significant upgrade on the DVD version. Any fans of the film should be very impressed with the picture quality on offer here.
The first thing to point out is the level of detail present in the transfer. Whether it be the fur on Mr. Jingles, or the drab surroundings of the mile, or even Edgecomb's home - the level of detail is immense, especially considering the age of the film. You only have to look at the level of the detail on the uniforms and the prisoner's clothing to appreciate the amount of care and attention that has gone into them, and this is something that simply cannot be seen on the standard definition release.
The colour level in the transfer is slightly more problematic. It is certainly faithful to the director's original vision but is certainly not the most vibrant transfer you will ever see. Darabont goes for a honeyed tone, bathing everything in a warm, nostalgic light. This colour scheme means that vibrant colours are suppressed apart from several key scenes. When they are allowed to blossom, such as the red raincoat, or the botched execution scene, then they are beautifully realised - but generally this is not the case during this transfer.
Black levels are deep and intense with shadow detail being consistently impressive but there is some crush visible at times during the transfer which loses it a few marks. There is a level of grain here, but it is a pleasing natural level that enhances the filmic quality of the image - it is pleasing that there no DNR has been applied.
The source print may not be absolutely pristine, but it is certainly very pleasing to see just how little damage there is considering the age of the print. The odd very slight blemish is present for those who are really looking for it, but I have no hesitation in saying that this is easily the best this film has looked in the home, and is a significant upgrade over the original DVD.
The Dolby TrueHD soundtrack presented here is really quite an interesting one to review. I did not go in with particularly high expectations but came out being rather impressed. The key here, as in the film itself, is subtlety. The sound mix is more likely to caress your hearing rather than assault it - but this is not a bad thing.
The first thing to notice is the dialogue. In the original DVD, certain accents (in particular Jeter's) provided me with some difficulty in understanding what was being said. There is no such problem here, however, where the clarity of the dialogue continually impresses. The words are always clear, and well presented - and this ground what is a dialogue-rich film far better than has ever been achieved in the home before.
Around this, the underrated score is truly allowed to breathe - underpinning the action beautifully (but again subtly) and adding a deal of emotion to the film. The stereo separation is wide, and at times it fills the surrounds as well.
The surrounds are always well used, even if they are not assailing your ears. Attune yourself to the mix, however, and the wonderful sound mix really starts to make itself known. Little footsteps from Mr. Jingles as he scuttles round the mile, the odd crack of thunder way behind you - all of these are beautifully realised by the sound designer, and presented within this mix.
Overall, the mix here is low on bombast, and high on subtlety and serves the film fantastically well.
The Green Mile comes to Blu-ray on a region-free disc, presented in a book format with the disc in the back cover, and a collection of images and some writing about the film. I must say I do love this format, as I did when it was used for The Shawshank Redemption. It lends the set a sense of specialness, as makes an attractive artefact. The extra features are ported over directly from the original DVD release, which means of course that they are in Standard Definition. It is an informative and interesting collection though.
We begin with a feature-length commentary with a difference. It mainly features Frank Darabont, who is an engaging companion - providing us with much interesting behind-the-scenes information. However, the producer occasionally makes an appearance, and on occasion Darabont even picks up his phone and calls people who worked with him on the film. Granted you would have to be quite a fan of the film (or a reviewer) to listen to the whole three hours, and much of the information here can be gleaned from watching the other extras, but you will gain much insight and enjoyment if you choose Darabont as your companion.
Walking The Mile : Making The Green Mile is a rather poor documentary, coming across as a fluffy promo piece, and is actually rather redundant considering we have it's big brother here. Yes, the 1 hour 43 minute Miracles and Mystery : Creating The Green Mile is a simply stunning documentary. This goes into an amazing level of detail about the film, even featuring a segment on the source novel, featuring a rare interview with Stephen King himself. It also has a segment on the actors, the design of the movie, the effects, and other material. This is amazingly in depth and is quite simply one of the best extra features I have ever seen on the disc. Highly recommended.
It is quite bizarre, seeing the length of the movie, that only 3minutes of deleted scenes are present here. Both of these scenes are actually quite moving, and I fail to see why they were cut out, as 3 minutes would hardly have made a massive amount of difference in a 3 hour movie. Michael Clarke-Duncan's screen test is also here, and is a riveting 8 minutes - and it was also apparently the plan to have Tom Hanks to play Edgcomb in the bookend scenes too. To this end, we get to see ageing make-up tests. It is clear that they made the right decision to go with a different actor. Equally revelatory is a case study on an aborted teaser trailer which is absolutely fascinating and a must-see. I am not going to spoil it, although it is clear exactly why they didn't go with the concept. You can also view this trailer without the mini-documentary and the original movie trailer.
The Green Mile is not the unqualified success that Shawshank Redemption was, but it is not a bad movie. It is a film that focuses very much on character rather than story or plot, and it takes rather too much time to get to its destination. However, if you are interested in a film that is rather old fashioned in its approach, and you are prepared to engage with a film emotionally and intellectually then there is much to take from a viewing of the film.
A quality film such as this deserves a decent presentation on Blu-ray and this is exactly what the film gets. The AV quality is superb, and a significant upgrade over the DVD version. The extra features are extensive, entertaining, and fascinating - and it even comes packaged in a well-presented book with photographs and essays.
If you have not seen the film before, then you may want to consider renting it first as it cannot be considered an absolute classic - however fans of the film will not be disappointed by what is on offer and for them this is an essential purchase.
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