Gone Baby Gone [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Rob Fields & Noor Razzak (2nd March 2008).
The Film

When I got this disc, the first thing I discovered was that Ben Affleck had co-written and directed the movie. My first thought was, “Okay, looks like I’ve got another actor-turned-wannabe-filmmaker title.” If I sound negative about it, it’s because I’ve seen some of these that I didn’t particularly care for. I’m speaking about Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” (2004) and Vince Gallo’s “The Brown Bunny” (2003). These are only but a couple of examples. But then a reassuring thought passed when it came to Ben Affleck. He’s already co-written a film that I’m familiar with. In fact, he also co-won an Academy Award along with Matt Damon. Of course, I’m referring to “Good Will Hunting” (1997), which I ended up liking. Once I remembered this little tidbit, I was able to relax at knowing that I might be in for a treat.
“Gone Baby Gone” (1:53:51) is the story of two young private detectives, Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck) and Angie Gennaro (Michelle Monaghan) are hired to take a closer look into the mysterious disappearance of a little girl, Amanda (Madeline O'Brien). They soon unravel a multitude of twists and turns where nothing is what it seems. Ultimately they must risk everything – their relationship, their sanity, and even their lives – in the search to find her. Casey Affleck (to a certain degree) and Morgan Freeman are electrifying, and Amy Ryan delivers a vibrant, knockout performance in this edge-of-your-seat crime drama, which may have you talking long after it’s over. Also, note that “Gone Baby Gone” is Affleck’s directorial debut.
I liked how the story just keeps you guessing. Just when you think the story’s over, it’s not. It’s this sort of thing that keeps the momentum going and the narrative interesting. I was also surprised with Ed Harris. For a time I had wondered what he had been doing. I still recall how he wasn’t too widely known when he was doing films for George A. Romero back in the day. I’m speaking of “Knightriders” (1981) and “Creepshow” (1982) here. After seeing him this film, it's obvious that he’s still on top of his game. If anything, he’s the show-stealer here. I was also impressed with Freeman’s performance. But then, whenever you see a movie with Freeman, he always delivers the goods. And to think that this guy used to be Easy Reader on a PBS children’s series called “The Electric Company” (1971-1977). As for the story itself, kudos to Ben Affleck. He has again proven that he can write and that he has most certainly earned his Academy Award. And further kudos goes to him for his interpretation of it. I would have to consider his directorial debut a successful one.
The downsides? While I think Casey Affleck is a good actor, I don’t feel that he played his best in this film. I didn’t think that he was convincing enough. To me this made the pace of the story slow down. Fortunately, it didn’t kill the film for me.
My final word: I’d have to say that I have probably a 75% success ratio when it comes to solving crime dramas or thrillers that involve the who-done-it principal. This was one more that I successfully solved. However, it wasn’t detective work on my part. I just happen to point to the character and say, “It’s him / her.” As I stated earlier, the story’s very well written. “Gone Baby Gone” is one of the better independent films that I’ve seen in the early part of 2008. In the end, I would have to say rent it at the very least.

Video

Presented in the film's original theatrical ratio of 1.85:1 this transfer is in high-definition 1080p 24/fps and has been created using VC-1 compression. This film is a low budget (compared to other mainstream films) but the transfer doesn't show that at all. The image is nice and sharp. Fine details are visible and look good onscreen, colors are rendered well and accurate as are skin tones which appear natural. There's some grain but that's to be expected and black levels are a bit crushed which was the only real flaw I spotted with this image, overall the print is clean of dirt or specks. I was pleased with this image as it suits the film well.

Audio

Four audio tracks are included on this release, an uncompressed English PCM track presented at 48kHz/24-bit/6.9Mbps as well as standard Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks in English, French and Spanish. For the purposes of this review I chose to view the film with its PCM track. This film does not require an aggressive soundtrack as there's no action scenes to speak of, but this track is vibrant and immerses the viewer. I was impressed how ambient sounds are used to draw you into the film, furthermore the film's score added further depth. Dialogue was clear which is expected, and directional effects felt natural. Overall it's not a track that will rock your socks off but it's a solid presentation.
Optional subtitles are included in English for the hearing impaired, French and Spanish.

Extras

Buena Vista has ported over the extras from the DVD release for this Blu-ray disc. They include an audio commentary, two featurettes, deleted/extended scenes and a series of bonus trailers. All of the video extras on this disc are presented in 1080p high-definition. Below is a closer look at these supplements.

There is a feature-length audio commentary track by co-writer/director Ben Affleck and co-Writer Aaron Stockard. Here you can listen to the two of the go into some of the specifics about some of the scenes. Definitely a serious track. You won’t hear Affleck joking around as he might on a commentary he might do for a View Askew production by Kevin Smith. They even have some trivia to offer.

The first of two featurettes “Going Home: Behind the Scenes with Ben Affleck” runs 7 minutes and 6 seconds. Here you will see interview footage with co-writer/director Ben Affleck, co-Writer Aaron Stockard and Dennis Lehane, the author of the book from which the screenplay was written. You will also get to hear from other members of the crew as well as a few of the cast. You will also get to see Ben doing some work on the other side of the camera. Affleck seemed to enjoy directing the film and those interviewed have nothing but praise for him. Note: Do NOT watch this before watching the film – MAJOR SPOILER ALERT!!

The second featurette is “Capturing Authenticity: Casting Gone Baby Gone” runs 8 minutes and 57 seconds. Like the first featurette, it starts out with co-writer/director Ben Affleck as he talks about his cast. You will also hear from other members of the crew and the cast as they talk about the settings. Some of the crew talks about why Casey Affleck was cast as the lead (no, not because he’s Ben’s brother). It’s interesting to hear Ben talk about directing his brother in the film. There is behind-the-scenes footage and film clips to support statements made. Note: Do NOT watch this before watching the film – MAJOR SPOILER ALERT!!

There are 6 deleted/extended scenes, each with optional audio commentary co-writer/director Ben Affleck and co-Writer Aaron Stockard. You can play the scenes individually or with the ‘Play All’ option. Here are the scenes:

- "Extended opening" runs for 8 minutes 20 seconds – Just what it says. The opening credits are also included. Lots of unseen footage here.
- "On the Porch" runs for 1 minute 13 seconds – Patrick and Angie are having a conversation on their porch.
- "After the Bar Fight" runs for 1 minute 49 seconds – Angie lets Patrick know why she never would have been raped in the bar. From there, they get romantic.
- "Having Kids" runs for 56 seconds – After seeing some disturbing news footage, Patrick and Angie briefly talk about the possibility of having kids.
- "Quarry Jump" runs for 1 minute – An extended scene. Apparently, in the original shot, Angie wasn’t the only one who got wet.
- "Extended Ending" runs for 3 minutes 44 seconds – You get to hear a tiny narrative by Patrick at the very end that wasn’t in the film itself.

Rounding out the extras are a collection of bonus trailers for:

- "Disney Blu-ray" spot which runs for 1 minute 48 seconds.
- "No Country For Old Men" which runs for 2 minutes 38 seconds.
- "Dan In Real Life" which runs for 2 minutes 32 seconds.
- "Becoming Jane" runs for 2 minutes 28 seconds.

Overall

The Film: A- Video: A- Audio: A Extras: B+ Overall: A-

 


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