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"True Grit" (2010) - {Blu-ray}
Wayne Klein
Studio: Paramount
Release Date:
Special Features:

5 production featurettes, short documentary on author Charles Portis, theatrical trailer all presented in HD. Rated: R


It's difficult to tackle a film that might stand in the shadow of an iconic film or actor in an iconic role. When John Wayne made "True Grit" over 40 years ago no one imagined that someone else would tackle Charles Portis' marvelous, detailed and accurate novel. I'm sure Wayne never imagined that someone else would tackle the role of "Rooster" Cogburn much less deliver such a different, less heroic and more flawed portrayal as Jeff Bridges delivers in the 2010 version of "True Grit". ***

"True Grit" is an unusual movie from the Coen's; it eschews all the unusual humor, quirky trappings and references to other literary works in a straight ahead genre film. It's a valentine to the western genre and, like the previous film version (it's not a remake folks--the two films share the same source novel as a starting point BUT the Coen's film does not use the Wayne version as the basis for this--that would be a remake), a well made film that's authentic to many of the details of the time but made for a 21st century audience as opposed to a 20th century audience with differing levels of sophistication. ***

When 14 year old Mattie Ross' (Steinfeld) father is murdered by a hired hand named Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin) she decides to take matters into her own hands to take him down; she hires Marshall Reuben "Rooster" Cogburn (Bridges) a one-eyed merciless killer and drunk to track down Chaney and bring him to justice. Unfortunately Chaney is also being pursued by Texas Ranger LeBoeuf (Damon) hunting the man for killing a senator. The odd trio agree to join forces to try and capture Chaney and bring him to justice although each has his own agenda. ---

As with all of the Coen's projects their attention to detail is remarkable and Roger Deakins' photography often breathtaking. Shot on film in Super 35mm, the often austere vistas of Texas have amazing depth and detail. The sound mix is also awesome for the film although be aware that sometimes dialogue can be a bit muffled not due to the recording but due to the performances by the actors (particularly Bridges) as he creates the cadence of Cogburn's unique accent and speech patterns. ---

Image & Sound:

True Grit looks quite nice with a sharp looking transfer that accurately represents the look and texture of the theatrical exhibition of the movie. Colors are accurate with nice flesh tones. Textures are nicely captured from skin textures to the wooden exteriors of the buildings or the coffins we see in the film. Black levels are perfect throughout and the film receives a sharp, clean transfer with remarkable depth and clarity. Over all this is a superior demo quality transfer of the film and I doubt we'll see it topped any time soon with any other transfers for Blu-ray of the same film. ***

Audio is likewise quite brilliant with a detailed, very active audio transfer that captures the smallest details. Dialogue is presented clearly and cleanly. The surround channels are active with the smallest amount of sounds creating a nearly perfect aural environment.

Special Features:

We get five featurettes on the production of the movie. Matte's True Grit focuses on the actress Hailee Steinfeld. From Bustles to Buckskins discusses the costuming of the film. Colts, Winchesters and Remingtons takes us behind-the-scenes with the property master Keith Walters discussing the weapons used in the movie. Re-Creating Fort Smith shows us the behind-the-scenes details on the creation of the rustic western town featured in the film. ***

We also get a 30 minute documentary on author Charles Portis who wrote the novel that is the basis for both the films. It's a nice short documentary that gives us some insight into Portis, his novels, the novel that became the basis for the 1969 film version and this one. It also compares and contrasts the two filmed versions with the original novel. All of the special features are presented in high def and we also get the theatrical trailer presented in high def as well. ***

Finally we get a DVD/digital copy disc that allows fans to either download the film to their computer or watch the regular DVD.

Final Words:

True Grit receives a truly remarkable and detailed transfer for Blu-ray. The special features are also quite nice. The film is a terrific adaptation of Charles Portis' seminal western novel, "True Grit" holds its own against the previous version of the film. Although the basic plot is the same the performances and the interpretations of the various characters by the Coen's and the actors are unique and add a flavor missing from the previous film version. Recommended.


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