Get Shorty comes to US Region Free Blu-ray complete with an impressive video presentation in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 widescreen. Detail is excellent throughout, from the skin textures through to the fine object detail; with close observation on even the longer scene-setting shots. There are no apparent digital defects – no edge enhancement or unruly DNR, and no print damage. Clarity remains resounding throughout, and a fine layer of grain permeates the pieces; never enough to distract, and generally always lending the production a suitably filmic edge. The colour scheme is broad and vibrant, reflecting the sun-drenched LA locales in all their glory (but with little of the smog), and providing us with a rich palette of varying tones, which are all rendered accurately, right up to and including the strong black levels that allow excellent shadow detail and superior night sequences. For a 17-year-old movie this is a quality rendition that just edges into demo territory and impresses in most every respect.
Whilst the accompanying DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio soundtrack is not as instantly impressive, it really does work wonders with the material, which is dominated – and driven – by the superb dialogue, but which stands out aurally through its use of some classically Elmore Leonard song tracks. Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently, largely from the fronts and centre channels. Effects are generally movie-making-related, with a few car screeches and the odd thundering gunshot thrown into the mix, but the rest made up of ambient atmospherics (restaurants and cinemas) and well-observed background noises. The aforementioned score, which – in a heartbeat – will go from a track playing in the background to the main backing for a pivotal scene (most evident in the early setpieces, which boast some superb backing music), gives your system the most to do, even getting the LFE channel in on the action. Overall this isn’t a demo quality offering, but it is a perfectly acceptable, often really quite good, representation of the material.
This review has come about largely as a result of the relatively recent UK release of this movie, which proved to have NO extras. Thankfully, through a disc authoring fault that resulted in interrupted playback, we had to forgo reviewing the title and just go back and cover the US release from this time last year; a release which sported a far superior set of extras ported straight over from the preceding 2-disc US Collector’s Edition DVD (and thus all in SD).
Audio Commentary with Director Barry Sonnenfeld headlines the extras. Recorded over a decade ago, this is an interesting and informative commentary which details the inception of the project, the path from book to script to screen, the changes made along the way, the locations chosen, the shooting style, the improvised moments and the end result. There’s plenty to learn here, and it’s provided in an accessible, engaging fashion.
Page to Screen of Get Shorty runs at half an hour in length and looks more specifically at the work of Elmore Leonard, how many of his books have resulted in failed cinema adaptations, and the process of bringing Get Shorty to life.
Get Shorty: Look at Me is a little shy of half an hour and was made for the 2004 Collector’s Edition as a retrospective Featurette, bringing back all of the major player including writer Elmore Leonard, director Sonnenfeld, and actors John Travolta, Gene Hackman and Danny DeVito, who all share their thoughts about the material, the production and the characters that were brought to life.
Get Shorty: Wiseguys and Dolls runs at 20 minutes in length and was also produced for the 2004 DVD, coming as a companion-piece to Look at Me, only with more of a focus on the supporting characters, with Rene Russo, Dennis Farina and Delroy Lindo on hand to discuss their roles.
The Graveyard Scene is a 4-minute introduction to the single Deleted Scene that it included in this package. Hosted by director Barry Sonnenfeld we get to hear about the removed sequence and, more importantly, why it was (quite rightly) cut.
Deleted Graveyard Scene runs at 4 minutes in length and is an interesting, sometimes quire funny extra scene as detailed above. The trouble is that it doesn’t feel like it is refined enough to go in the final film, with some of the characters – in particular Travolta’s Chili and Hackman’s Zimm – feeling a little off-kilter; Chili unsure of himself and Zimm being unconventionally dominant. Still, it’s a welcome little curio that even features a young Ben Stiller playing the part of Zimm’s inexperienced director.
Going Again is almost 6 minutes long and looks at the long, unending multiple takes that DeVito did for some of his scenes, conspiring with the director to avoid the penalties of calling “cut” (i.e. that everybody on-set gets ready for another take) by just allowing the film to keep rolling while he tries out different versions. Coupled with some good editing, this plan worked extremely well in terms of end result, and here we get to see how they pulled it off.
Get Shorty Party Reel is almost 6 minutes long as well and is something of a gag reel, with a number of line fluffs and extended b-roll footage where the cast let their guard down and start behaving in silly ways. It’s fairly fun and worth a quick look.
Vignettes runs at 6 minutes and is split into four interview clips – two with the director and two with producer/actor Danny DeVito – where we get to hear about the difficulties getting this project off the ground as being an example of the difficulties generally found within the film industry.
The disc is rounded off with the film’s Original Theatrical Trailer.
One of the best Elmore Leonard adaptations – up there with Steven Soderbergh’s Out of Sight – and arguably the high point in John Travolta’s comeback era of filmmaking, the 1995 film Get Shorty remains a snappy, stylish and extremely cool crime thriller that expertly mixes the world of crime bosses and loan sharks with the equally shark-infested realm of Hollywood film productions. With a razor-sharp wit, plenty of quotable dialogue, some standout performances bringing to life eminently colourful characters, and stylish direction backed up by a perfectly-chosen score, the end result is a potent mix that demands your attention. Effortlessly entertaining, it makes for a great companion-piece to Out of Sight and has earned a place in every cinephiles’ collection.
Largely due to the recent, abortive, UK release – which, through a manufacturing fault appears to have resulted in plenty of recalls and customer issues – we take a look back at 2011’s US release that is, thankfully, not only packed to the hilt with extras that didn’t even make the UK disc, but also Region Free to boot. With excellent video presentation and capable audio support, as well as all of the aforementioned extras, this is a fitting package for a superb film. Fans should not be disappointed. Recommended.
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