Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco, Paul Sorvino
Director: Martin Scorsese
Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
When Martin Scorsese, one of the world's most skillful and respected directors, reunited with two-time Oscar-winner Robert De Niro in GoodFellas, the result was one of the most powerful films of the year. Based on the true... more »
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Another 5-star movie in a (barely) 4-star release...
Ryan Long | Philly | 08/22/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"There's nothing I can say that hasn't already been said about "Goodfellas"... it's one of the best movies ever. To hell with the AFI, this is arguably one of the top 10 American movies ever made! Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco: five top-notch talents operating on all 8 cylinders in this story about three decades of life in the mob.
Now, you'd think that Warner Brothers would give this movie the most complete Warner DVD release that's ever existed. A fervent popular following, a high level of anticipation for a special edition, and the current booming state of the DVD industry should've made this a no-brainer slam dunk for Warner's marketing and home video departments. And so, after years of having to flip over the old disc, after years of almost crushing that flimsy snap case, after years of listening to that 5.1 surround that sounded suspiciously like 2-channel, should you get this new version?? The answer is a resounding..."maybe".
Arguably the biggest plus to this new edition of "Goodfellas" is the fact that the whole movie is contained on a single side of a dual-layered disc. The "all-new digital transfer", enhanced for 16:9, is only a marginal improvement over the original release (which was also listed as being "enhanced for widescreen TVs" on the package; it wasn't). Strangely enough, in the scene where Jimmy (De Niro) and Paulie (Paul Sorvino) go to convince Henry to go home to Karen, there is a very noticeable screen-split line on the film that sections De Niro's face in half. This isn't the transfer's problem, per se; it looks more like something off the film print. The strange thing is I don't remember this streak being present on the old version. Maybe it's only a minor peeve, but still, this is the kind of thing you'd expect a studio to clean up for a special edition.
The English audio is the same old Dolby-Surround-masquerading-as-5.1 mix used in the old version. The package incorrectly lists Spanish as the alternate language; it's still French. Nothing more to say about that.
The disc menus are static, and they all have this generic-sounding jazz score playing over them. Remember all the jazz in "Goodfellas"? Yeah, me neither.
Of course, the real reason most people are running out to get this new set is to see the special features. This DVD includes 2 commentaries: one with various cast & crew members, the other with Henry Hill & ex-FBI agent Ed McDonald (who plays himself at the end of the movie). Of the 2 commentaries, the track with real-life players Hill and McDonald is infinitely more interesting, even though Hill mumbles more than Keith Richards having an acid flashback.
When I bought this set, I was looking forward to some feature-length Scorsese, Pesci, Liotta &/or Bracco commentary (I didn't dare to hope for Robert De Niro, I mean, be serious), with some funny stories or moviemaking info. Instead, what you get is a few new comments cobbled together with 10-15 year old sound bites from De Niro and Joe Pesci. Basically, the first 90 minutes of commentary is a total strokefest ("oh-this-guy-was-so-great", "oh-she-did-a-really-good-job") with only Scorsese, author Nick Pileggi, Liotta, and cinematographer Michael Ballhaus saving it. It picks up towards the end, though, when Lorraine Bracco (who shoots down the "screen-specific commentary" illusion when she talks about having watched the movie on the morning she's being interviewed) and editor Thelma Schoonmaker drop some funny thoughts.
As for the rest of the extras? There's really no need to have a second disc to contain them; the total running time of all the "documentaries", as Warner calls them ("featurettes", I call 'em), along with the theatrical trailer is less than an hour. Plenty of room for these on the first disc, but then I guess Warner felt they needed another selling point with the whole 2-disc thing. To summarize the 1/2-hour making-of documentary: "Martin Scorsese is a great director." Remember those 6 words and everything else is cream cheese.
The second major documentary, at around 13 minutes long, has interviews with some younger writer-directors who've found themselves influenced by "Goodfellas". Only 5 words to remember this time: "'Goodfellas' is a brilliant movie."
The other two featurettes are about 10 minutes altogether. One is a storyboard-to-screen comparison, the other is a little throwaway piece with some cast & crew anecdotes. 4 words will do this one just fine: "Warner Brothers is lazy."
It's really a shame that Warner Brothers couldn't wait just a tad longer and include some truly special features for one of the best movies their studio has ever produced. With the stellar jobs they've done on their other 2-disc reissues, like "Enter the Dragon", "The Right Stuff", "Singin' in the Rain" --jeez, even "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" has better features than this!!-- I expected Warner Bros. to really pull out all the stops for this new edition of "Goodfellas", but it's a big letdown. Still, it is an improvement (no matter how minor) over the previous release, and as it is probably the "best" version we're ever gonna get on DVD, I would have to recommend picking it up.
However, if you already own the movie, keep three things in mind. Ask yourself 1.) if you really mind flipping the old disc over, 2.) if you've got a normal full-screen TV, do you really need a new anamorphic transfer?, and 3.) do you really need to see the special features if they're not exactly top quality? If your answer to any of these things is "no", then I'd think long and hard about shelling out another $20."
Incredible movie, but?
Winston Cheuk | United States | 03/16/2001
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I have to say that this is one of the best movies I've ever seen. Yet the DVD doesn't do this classic justice. First off, the movie is listed as being enhanced for widescreen televisions. Unfortunately, this only applies to the menus, not the film itself. Another major problem is that the soundtrack of this film seems to be mixed in Dolby ProLogic since there's a lack of surround action. And the biggest problem with this disc: it's dual-sided, not dual-layered. In the middle of the film, the disc stops and you have to get up and flip it. Come on: this isn't laser disc.Memo to Warner Bros.: Remaster this epic anamorphically, in DTS digital surround, and make it a special edition, 2-disc set with the film on a dual-layered disc and extras on the second disc."
Good Blu-Ray Transfer
C. S. Junker | Burien, WA USA | 01/27/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Goodfellas has long been one of my favorite movies. I've watched it many times since I saw it in the theater. I've seen it on tape, on laserdisc, on the original "flipper" DVD and the remastered anamorphic DVD, and now, Blu-Ray Disc.
I'm happy to report that the Blu-Ray is a significant improvement over the remastered DVD. The picture is brighter, the colors are more vivid, and many scenes have much more detail and clarity. Of course, the overall picture is much sharper.
Goodfellas is not the kind of movie that is a showcase for high-resolution video, however. It has a lot of dark indoor scenes; very little takes place outdoors (something I never noticed before). I noticed some graininess, which has a lot to do with how Scorcese shot the picture. It's just more noticeable in the higher resolution.
There are some minor problems with the audio in one scene. The dialogue drops in volume and then jumps back up in the following scene. Other than that, the audio is fine, although I would have liked a more aggressive surround mix, at least in the musical selections. However, there's not much use of the surrounds here.
Also, at one point there's a vertical line halfway across the screen. Why this wasn't cleaned up is mystery to me; it lasts for about fifteen seconds. Admittedly this is a very minor problem, but with expensive new technology flaws of this kind stand out more than they would on tape or standard DVD.
If you're a fan of the movie and are considering upgrading to the Blu-Ray, I'd highly recommend it. It's not an eye-popping effects movie to begin with, so this disc isn't the first one to reach for if you want to show off your system. But it's probably the best way to watch the movie."
A suspect DVD release for a classic film.
D. Mok | Los Angeles, CA | 08/21/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"GoodFellas is on top of my "best films of all time" list. I was one of the people who had bought the previous DVD edition, the infamous "two-sided, no features" release that had been one of the first generation of DVD releases, before the medium evolved into what it is today. I had been counting the days until they would re-release this film, so I was first in line to get this new edition.
Unfortunately, though this edition is much better than the previous one, it very much pales alongside most modern DVD packages.
The package aroused many suspicions in me that this was a rush job. Among my dissatisfactions:
- There's no booklet, leaflet, film histories, or printed material of any kind which generally supplements a two-disc release like this;
- The film is long, but still under the three-hour mark, and the second disc has three short (eight to 20 minutes), unremarkable documentaries plus a storyboard-film comparison. Wouldn't all this material have fit on a single disc? Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story had three times the media and was only a single disc. If they didn't have enough material, why did they put up the illusion that there are two discs' worth?
- There are only two commentaries, and one of them isn't even complete. The "Cop and Crook" commentary is interesting, applying the great idea of bringing back Henry Hill (on whose life this film and its source book Wiseguy were based) and the prosecutor who had sponsored his Witness Protection Program, Edward McDonald. It's not a very illuminating commentary, but it's still good to see what Hill is like today. However, the "Cast and Crew" commentary is suspect. Not only does it not cover the entire film, I actually suspect it was not recorded as a commentary, but edited from fragmentary interviews. So rarely do the cast and director on this track comment on the specific scenes, the way a commentary should, that I don't think they were watching the film as they were speaking; I think the production company simply mixed the sound louder and created the illusion that this was a commentary track. I don't know for sure if this is the case, but if it is, I consider it very dishonest marketing. Don't call it a commentary unless it is one!
- I found absolutely no new insights into Martin Scorsese or the film from the additional materials. The "making of" documentary is the usual "heap praise upon the director" baloney. Come on, do we actually *need* you to tell us that Scorsese is great? How about giving some anecdotes and insight into the film instead?
All of the above adds up to a very underwhelming DVD release of a film that's possibly the greatest American film of the last 20 years. However, there is still one incentive to own it -- the entire film is contained, without interruptions, on one disc. So unlike with the old DVD release, you can actually watch the whole film now without having to turn the disc over. So this is still the best available version of the film out there. However, I remain displeased. After years of waiting, and being disappointed, why does this edition fail to satisfy?
I can only hope that the impossible would happen -- that Warner Bros. would let The Criterion Collection take a stab at this film, and do it justice. It will never happen, but the very idea does whet the appetite."