Quick And The Dead (The) [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (3rd November 2009).
The Film

Sam Raimi has made a name for himself delivering schlock horror films to ravenous cult fans, he also crossed into mainstream mega-director territory with the wildly successful "Spider-Man" Trilogy (2002-2007), earning billions word-wide. Before his step into big budget films he was creating small but entertaining genre pictures, "Darkman" (1990), "The Quick and the Dead" (1995) and "A Simple Plan" (1998) where among the moderately successful films he created. They didn't set the box office on fire but Raimi continued to amass a following of fans. Having made horror films in the past, Raimi went in a different direction with this 1995 entry into the Western genre. And we can thank Sharon Stone for making it all happen.

the 90's was the height of Sharon Stone's career, she was, for all intents and purposes, the flavor of the month. Everything most actor's covet were presented to her, choice in plum roles, a high salary and even director approval. Taking credit as co-producer she chose Raimi to direct (excellent!), she personally picked Russell Crowe as her co-star (his first American feature) and when studio executives were reluctant to cast a young and fresh-faced Leonardo DiCaprio, she paid his salary out of her own pocket in order to have him... now that's a determined producer. For once a star uses their powers for good and not evil (that's right I'm looking at you Sean Connery and the mess that was "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" (2003), that's right I'm still not over a film that came out 6 years ago). And while "The Quick and the Dead" may not be a classic among its genre, it's an entertaining ride filled with trademark Raimi moments.

"The Quick and the Dead" tells the story of The Lady (Sharon Stone), a cowgirl that's more than meets the eye, she's rough, touch and has a quick draw that'll put anyone in the ground. She saunters into the town of Redemption, where local badass John Herod (Gene Hackman) is presiding over a quick-draw contest. While others enter the tournament for money, The Lady enters for revenge. Meanwhile she encounters a cocky kid (Leonardo DiCaprio) and a preacher (Russell Crowe) forced into the tournament against his will.

"The Quick and the Dead" is not a very convincing Western, at first I wasn't sure what it was that made the film so, but after a couple of viewings it was evident that Raimi's style isn't entirely suited here, the quick cuts, zoom-tilts and all the cheapie tricks he learned making the "Evil Dead" films (1981-1992) are used here and the only purpose they serve is to remove viewers from the moment (not exactly the purpose Raimi intended). There's an overall comic book tone to this film and it really serves to damage any credibility it goes for. In saying that, the film is fun. It's got a lightheartedness that comes out amid the film's dark subject matter... not entirely a good thing but doesn't hurt the film beyond repair. I liked some of classic "Western" gags, like striking a match against stubble to light a cigarette, the classic quick-draw gun action was exciting and he managed to add a kinetic spark with the close-up shots of the shiny guns doing their thing.

As far as the acting goes Sharon Stone does her best Clint Eastwood impression (also it's the first time Stone didn't play a hot femme, she's basically a guy! Who wants to see that? This part of the problem why this movie didn't make that much money), Leonardo DiCaprio is far too boyish to be in this film (ironically the Leo of today would be far suited for this role than the Leo of 1995) and Gene Hackman does well by playing what is essentially a comic book version of Little Bill Daggett, a character he played in Clint Eastwood's Western masterpiece "Unforgiven" (1992), a role that earned the veteran actor an Oscar... here, he just hams it up for the paycheck. Russell Crowe is the real standout here, appearing in his first American feature, having impressed Stone with "Romper Stomper" (1992), delivers a stoic performance with hints of the superstar he's to become in the following years.

There's some great scenes here, but as a whole, the film falls a little short. This film definitely shows the potential of all involved but doesn't take it to that next level, although they all managed to achieve that later in their careers, "The Quick and the Dead" serves as a decent waste of time and nothing else. It's really up to mega-fans if they want an upgrade their old DVD for this high-definition Blu-ray, otherwise it's worth a rental on a rainy day.

Video

Presented in the film's original theatrical ratio of 1.85:1 this image is delivered to viewers in high-definition 1080p 24/fps and mastered using AVC MPEG-4 compression. I found the overall image to be quite orange, especially skin tones which made some actors look way too tanned, this was the first distraction. The other was some edge-enhancement that also posed a few problems. The older DVD and the much more recent Superbit edition suffer from a few problems, and while this HD version is a step-up from both those releases I was still let down. Some shots look flat, while the majority of the image is nice and sharp, detail looks good and grain hasn't been tampered with. Colors are well balanced with the exception of skin tones as mentioned already. There are a a few specks bit for the most part the image is clean. There's still plenty of room for improvement here but for the time being it's an ok HD presentation.

Audio

Two audio tracks are present on this disc, an English of French Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround mixed at 48kHz/24-bit. The lossless audio track is excellent, dialogue is clear and free from disturbance. The film's surround mix is truly alive with ambient and environmental sounds that place viewers amid the action of the gun fight and most importantly in the center of the town. Sound effects are well placed and aggressive, furthermore Alan Silvestri's score is brilliantly rendered throughout the sound space. The sound design brings viewers in from the crisp dialogue to the cracking of leather, it's all here in an complex and rich soundtrack that can only be improved upon with a DTS-HD or uncompressed PCM upgrade.
Optional subtitles are featured in English, English for the hearing impaired and French.

Extras

Sony have only included a small collection of extras, they are a series of bonus trailers and a BD-Live feature. Below is a closer look at these supplements.

There are a collection of bonus trailers for:

- "The Da Vinci Code" which runs for 1 minute 6 seconds.
- "Casino Royale" which runs for 1 minute 33 seconds.
- "Ghostbusters" which runs for 1 minute 23 seconds.
- "A River Runs Through It" which runs for 2 minute 36 seconds.
- "Damages: Season One" which runs for 1 minute 36 seconds.
- "The Sky Crawlers" which runs for 1 minute 8 seconds.
- "Tyson" which runs for 2 minutes 10 seconds.
- "Rudo Y Cursi" which runs for 1 minute 52 seconds.
- "Sugar" which runs for 2 minutes 5 seconds.

A single Blu-ray exclusive extra is included in the form of BD-Live access for profile 2.0 players only, here you can access "MovieIQ" which is an interactive feature where you can view information about the scenes in question, cast and crew filmographies, biographies, information about the soundtrack and other topics of interest. It's a glorified trivia track and nothing else.

Sadly Sony have dropped the ball with this release offering fans hardly anything of interest, it would have been nice to see a retrospective featurette or even an audio commentary would have been welcomed additions, but alas like the previous DVD incarnations we hardly get anything here as well.

Overall

The Film: C- Video: B- Audio: A Extras: D- Overall: C-

 


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