Goodfellas (1990) - 20th Anniversary Edition [Blu-ray]
|Genre(s): Biographical / Crime / Drama|
|Warner Brothers || R - 145 minutes - $34.99 || February 16, 2010|
|Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2010-03-14|
Writer(s): Nicholas Pileggi (book); Nicholas Pileggi & Martin Scorsese (screenplay)
Cast: Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco, Paul Sorvino
Theatrical Release Date: September 19, 1990
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“As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.” – Henry Hill
Henry Hill (RAY LIOTTA) began his career as a criminal entrepreneur at an early age beginning working for mob boss Paul Cicero (PAUL SORVINO). At his young age, he is paired with short fused but dangerously effective Tommy DeVito (JOE PESCI) and the pair quickly rise in the ranks quickly forming a crew with rising mob star Jimmy Conway (ROBERT DENIRO). As Jimmy, Henry and Paul make their way up the ladder, and their crimes more violent and brazen than ever, Henry knows he can never become a full fledged mobster due to his Irish background.
Meanwhile, Henry meets Karen (LORRAINE BRACCO) after Tommy wanted to get some tail but his date doesn’t trust Irishmen and only would agree to see him if her friend tagged along. But soon Henry and Karen fall in love, marry and have kids. However, not everything is so good. Their marriage quickly gets on shaky ground after Karen discovers he has a mistress (the late GINA MASTROGIACOMO) and things only get worse when Henry and Tommy get pinched for a – relatively minor, all things considered – crime and get sent to prison for four years.
On the inside, Henry begins his downfall into the world of drugs, particularly cocaine in order to support his family. When he and Jimmy are released, Henry, with newfound connections into the drug business, begins dealing behind the mob’s backs which is a big no-no as it brings unnecessary law enforcement attention onto the organization as a whole.
I’m pretty sure a majority of people interested in the mobster genre have already seen Goodfellas, but in case you haven’t I won’t spell out the entire plot. However, I have to say, this is without a doubt one of the best mob movies ever made and certainly Martin Scorsese’s best movie to date, though I have yet to see Shutter Island. Now, I don’t think it’s fair to compare this movie with The Godfather as the styles and structures are vastly different with Scorsese providing a rough and gritty look at the 70s/80s mob culture versus Coppola’s more finessed and romanticized 1940s era.
The performances all around are amazing and while one would expect Robert De Niro to hit it out of the park in a gangster flick and even to a certain extent Ray Liotta (even if he’s been relegated to direct-to-video status of late), Joe Pesci makes the biggest impact taking home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, and well deserved.
Since this is no doubt the same exact disc as the original 2007 release, everything from that release is on here except we get a bonus DVD. The only thing new is a 31-page book, which I guess is a ** Blu-ray Exclusive **.
First up are two feature commentaries:
The first is a spliced together track with cast and crew members including Director Martin Scorsese, Co-Screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi, Producers Irwin Winkler and Barbara De Fina, Cinematographer Michael Ballhaus and Editor Thelma Schoomaker and Actors Ray Liotta, Lorraine Bracco, Paul Sorvino and Frank Vincent.
The second is with former mobster Henry Hill and retired FBI Agent Edward McDonald.
Both tracks have their advantages with the cast/crew one providing the behind-the-scenes trivia where the second track gives the inside story about what happened in real life. Personally, I found the second one to be far more interesting, but you can’t really go wrong either way.
Getting Made: The Making of Goodfellas (29:36) includes new and vintage interviews chronicle the making of the film. The featurette is fairly detailed on how the picture got made with interviews with the cast (De Niro, Liotta, Pesci) and crew (Scorsese, Henry Hill, et al). It’s not too bad especially for an older featurette.
Made Men: The Goodfellas Legacy (13:33) – Filmmakers Jon Favreau, Frank Darabont, the Hughes Brothers, Richard Linklater, Joe Carnahan and Antoine Fuqua pontificate on Goodfellas’ epic coolness. This is a pretty cool featurette where these filmmakers give their opinions on the classic gangster film and why it is so awesome.
The Workday Gangster (7:58) – The gangsters in Goodfellas are representative of real-life dapper dons and their underlings. This featurette takes a look at the real gangsters seen in the film. It features more interviews with the crew including Henry Hill and Nicholas Pileggi.
Last on this disc is a sketch-to-screen comparison entitled Paper is Cheaper Than Film (4:27) and the film’s theatrical trailer (1:28).
On the second (DVD) disc is a documentary called Public Enemies: The Golden Age of the Gangster Film (1:45:43). This was available separately at one time (currently can be purchased on Amazon Marketplace for ~$5) as well as the Warner Gangster Collection Vol. 4. The documentary isn’t bad as you get some info on some of the classic gangster flicks from the perspective of various experts in the genre.
This disc also has Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes (30:39) gangster cartoons.
.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.
Note: Again, this is the same disc as the 2007 release so the audio and video are the same.
Goodfellas finally gets a proper video transfer after some (mildly) awful transfers on VHS (*shudder*) and even DVD. Now, on Blu-ray it’s been given some new life with a 1080p high-definition transfer (VC-1 codec) and 1.78 aspect ratio. Although the picture isn’t as beautiful by comparison with other Blu-rays, it still looks really good with nice black levels and some decent detail levels especially in foreground objects and people. There is plenty of natural grain as well as digital noise but rather than using filtering software which would’ve only deteriorated the detail, instead it’s still a fairly decent looking picture.
As this is the same disc that Warner originally released in 2007, it also contains the same standard Dolby Digital 5.1 rather than upgrading for a TrueHD or DTS-HD MA track. That said, the good ‘ole Dolby Digital track is serviceable providing a half-decent audio experience with clear dialogue from the center channel and ambient noises from the front and rear. It’s not the best audio you’re going to hear, but it’s not too shabby either.
No doubt about it, Goodfellas is a masterpiece and a classic, one that probably ranks up there with the best; although I still have an affinity and affection for The Godfather I and II. As for this Blu-ray, if you already own the original 2007 release, there’s not a whole lot here to upgrade to. The audio and video are identical and the bonus disc, while certainly nice to have, can be bought on its own for five bucks. If, however, you have not bought Goodfellas on Blu-ray, then now’s the time.