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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Sling Blade (1996/Miramax/Disney Blu-ray)

Sling Blade (1996/Miramax/Disney Blu-ray)


Picture: B ††††Sound: B††† Extras: B†† ††Film: B



Out of all the titles that we have covered over the past few years, itís hard to imagine that we have yet to cover 1996ís Sling Blade, which has now arrived to us via Blu-ray and we accept with open arms.The various DVD editions of the film were always poor in both picture and sound, so we knew that a Blu-ray edition would eventually arrive and now the question remainsÖwill the film finally look and sound the way it should?We shall reserve that answer for later in the review though.


What is most memorable about this film is the writing/directing and star of the film Billy Bob Thornton in a truly breakout performance that put him on the map, his performance as Karl Childers in this film is eerily spot-on.Karl has recently been released from a mental hospital where he has spent most of his life after being put away for the murder of his mother and her lover, whom he found them together and killed them out of rage.He now is released back to the town where he was born, but now must figure out a new way of life, he befriends a young boy in town and the two develop a strong friendship bond together, although Karl soon becomes protective of the boy, especially over the boys mother and her abusive boyfriend (Dwight Yoakam in a surprisingly good role).


What is compelling though about the film and what makes the memorable performance so engaging is Thorntonís ability to translate a very simple story into a powerful and enriching story through the use of very little dialogue at times and engaging narrative that pieces together a heartfelt story without being overly sappy or clichťd.This is certainly a large part of the reason why the film received both critical and commercial acclaim and is certainly one reason to own the film on Blu-ray, especially with the improvement in picture and sound, along with supplements that really dig deeper into the production and help form a total package of the film.


Presented in a high definition 1080p transfer and framed in the films intended 1.85 X 1 aspect ratio the film dramatically looks improved over the previous edition on DVD, which was drab looking by comparison.The DVD with itís limitations and compression created a lackluster appearance of the film, especially many of the darker sequences which had issues translating the films deep blacks and reddish hues.For this Blu-ray release, most of those issues are solved, although the film still has a grainy texture that goes a little beyond the intention and there are minor moments of softness that jeopardize the image from being reference quality in terms of itís resolution.That being said, the film looks great and has excellent color and contrast throughout that make the film standout and certainly more like it looked in the theater with a highly saturated appearance.


The audio is favorable here as well, offering the film in a DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio option, the Blu-ray is certainly more advanced in itís sonic integrity of the film than the poor compressed Dolby Digital 5.1 mix offered on the DVD.Now the film comes alive with a freshness and dynamic range that was never available in the home until now.While the film is certainly more subtle and creates more mood than it does billowing subsonic activity, the film still has a score and soundtrack that give the film necessary life and this DTS-HD mix makes the film sound just about right, placement of everything is natural to the films design, the overall resolution is more life-like and never seems to feel out of balance.The surrounds get moments of activity as well, especially during the more intense moments in the film.


The supplements are recycled over and are still good, the commentary by Thornton is exceptional as he looks back on making the film and dissects the film from his perspective in a very engaging way, there are tons of little featurettes that get some depth on the production, there are also discussion pieces with Thornton, Robert Duvall, Dwight Yoakam, there is also a segment on Billy Bob Thornton that gives us in-depth coverage on his arrival in Hollywood and the process in getting this dream turned into a movie reality, all of which really help give appreciation to the filmmaking process and how hard it really is to get a project off the ground.


A solid recommendation.



-†† Nate Goss


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