Gran Torino (2008) - Special Edition [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Drama
Warner Brothers || R - 116 minutes - $35.99 || June 9, 2009
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2009-06-02


Buy this DVD from Amazon.com!
.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Clint Eastwood
Writer(s): Dave Johannson & Nick Schenk (story), Nick Schenk (screenplay)
Cast: Clint Eastwood, Christopher Carley, Bee Vang, Ahney Her


Theatrical Release Date: January 9, 2009


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • 3 Featurettes
  • BD-Live
  • Digital Copy


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Widescreen (2.40)
  • English (Dolby TrueHD 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1), Portuguese (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese

Comment on this and other movies on the message board!


.::THE FILM::.

Plot: Korean War vet and retired autoworker Walt Kowalski doesn’t much like how his life or his neighborhood has turned out. He especially doesn’t like the people next door, Hmong immigrants from Southeast Asia. But events force Walt to defend those neighbors against a local gang that feeds on violence and fear.

In what has rumored to be Eastwood’s final screen performance (though IMDb has two projects listed), Gran Torino is an engrossing drama that proves he is still a force to contend with. Yes, sometimes he grunts his lines a bit too much, but his screen presence is absolutely amazing and carries what could’ve been an average story propelling it to something more.

What’s a demonstration to Clint Eastwood’s craft is the fact he can take such a flawed character and still make him likable enough that you care about what happens not only to him but to those he fights for. Clearly this has been Eastwood’s M.O. throughout his career playing rough-around-the-edges tough guys who don’t behave as society expects them to, yet at the same time; the audience can still root for them as they pursue justice or whatnot. I know some have said this Kowalski character could easily be an older Harry Callahan in his twilight years, and that is true...

By comparison, Gran Torino isn’t one of Clint Eastwood’s best directed films behind Mystic River, Letters from Iwo Jima, Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby (though some find it overrated) but certainly ahead of True Crime, Blood Work and Space Cowboys. Eastwood manages to present a finely tuned drama with a tough a-hole lead character that turns into a hero for people he comes to respect more than his own blood family.

Beyond Eastwood’s amazing performance, probably his best since Unforgiven, the roles of the neighbors – Bee Vang and Ahney Her (both debuts) – were actually quite incredible to be able to stand toe to toe with the veteran. Not saying they have a long career ahead of them, however, but I actually was impressed with both of these young unknown actors, yet another testament to Eastwood for his casting.

I did have one minor issue with the ending. I didn’t have a problem with it per se as it was in fitting with Eastwood’s character, but something about how it was choreographed and shot seemed off. As I said, there was no other way to end the film and that’s fine, but the symbolic nature was a little too on the nose for my taste.

Gran Torino isn’t the perfect movie and I know some felt it deserved more award recognition it received and for the most part I have to say it wasn’t the big drama I had expected, although that’s not necessarily a bad thing, just different expectations. This isn’t to say the movie isn’t powerful but more propelled by an amazing performance by Eastwood.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Unfortunately, like other Clint Eastwood DVD and Blu-ray releases in the past, they’re heavy on the quality, very light on supplemental features... In this case the Blu-ray comes with, count them, three featurettes (descriptions from the menu):

The Eastwood Way (19:17; HD) – A master of the personal story, Clint Eastwood continues his tradition of exploring unconventional interpersonal relationships. This feature explores the entirety of the film from the dual perspectives of actor and director – and will document Mr. Eastwood’s uniquely efficient process. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Manning the Wheel (9:23; HD) – A look at the American car culture, specifically the Gran Torino, and what this car represents symbolically and metaphorically to the character Walt Kowalski and to generations of American men. This featurette has comments from the cast (Eastwood included) and crew about the importance of the car in the film even though really it’s only seen once driven on the street.

Gran Torino: More Than a Car (3:57; HD) – More than just metal, cars are an extension of our personality. Visit Detroit and the Woodward Dream Cruise, an annual parade of vintage cars held at the major cruise center in Detroit during the ‘50s and ‘60s.

None of these features are all that great. Beyond “The Eastwood Way”, you don’t get that much in how the movie was made. In fact, it’s the one BD Exclusive that’s worthwhile. I also should note that all of the featurettes have subtitles which I could not turn off.

Oh, there are also a portal to BD-Live and a digital copy, both ** Blu-ray Exclusives **.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

Gran Torino comes to Blu-ray presented with a 2.40 aspect ratio in 1080p high-definition. It’s not a great looking picture by any means but detail level, black levels and skin tones looked good. However, it is a darker natured film so you’re not going to get much in the way of a visual pop compared to other Blu-ray releases. Thankfully, even though it is a new release, I didn’t notice much in the way of edge enhancement or film imperfections like dust and/or scratches.

The Dolby TrueHD track, which defaults when the movie begins, is OK but like the picture you’re not going to get some engrossing experience. The movie is 98% dialogue with only a couple gunfire scenes to determine how good the TrueHD track is, and from those two scenes, there’s not much impact or ‘boom’ to the track. However, dialogue levels sounded good, but a tad low at times.



.::OVERALL::.

Gran Torino is a fine movie from a masterful storyteller. Sure, it’s not the perfect movie I had expected, but it still was one of best movies of 2008. It’s also a testament to Clint Eastwood’s talents as a director and actor in his first on-screen performance in four years (Million Dollar Baby). The movie itself is two hours of part drama, part suspense to a, albeit on the button conclusion, but one that still has a semblance of truth to the character.

It’s unfortunate the Blu-ray didn’t get much treatment in terms of features and better audio and video transfers. However, the movie is too damn good to ignore because the features weren’t the best. Despite having only about 40-minutes of features total, and only about 25-minutes actually dealing with the movie itself, it is still well worth buying.