Unforgiven is probably one of the best westerns ever made and it’s a movie that transcends audiences so if you’re like me and don’t normally watch those kinds of movies, give this one a shot: it features fine performances, fine direction and a story that is compelling from beginning to end.
Warner Bros. | R – 131 min. – $44.95 | May 16, 2012
Date Published: 05/18/2017 | Author: The Movieman
Note: Portions were copied from my 2012 Blu-ray review.
THE MOVIE — 4.5/5
Plot Outline: Retired outlaws Will Munny (CLINT EASTWOOD) and Ned Logan (MORGAN FREEMAN) go with a young pup nicknamed The ‘Schofield Kid’ (JAIMZ WOOLVETT) to collect a bounty set up by a group of prostitutes after one of them was badly cut up by one of their clients and the town’s sheriff, Little Bill Daggett (GENE HACKMAN), gave the perpetrator minimal punishment.
In the town of Big Whisky, gunfighter English Bob (RICHARD HARRIS) arrives with his biographer, W.W. Beauchamp (SAUL RUBINEK), seeking the reward as well. Because the town has a no gun law, Daggett orders English Bob to disarm and after a bit of reluctance, Daggett mercilessly beats up English Bob and sends him to jail. After a drawn out battle of words between Daggett and Bob, he’s eventually released and literally driven out of town as Beauchamp stays behind to become Daggett’s biographer.
Meanwhile, the three gunslingers arrive in town amidst a major rain storm, go into the saloon where Munny gets a fever, while the other two go upstairs to get “advances” on the reward (i.e. patronizing the prostitutes). Munny is confronted by Daggett and upon finding a pistol on him, he too is beaten severely and thrown on his butt outside. The other two escape out a window and together they regroup in a barn outside of town. Soon enough they begin to hunt down the men responsible but soon find killing isn’t so easy when things begin to fall apart.
Quick Hit Review: Unforgiven is probably Clint Eastwood’s crown jewel in his illustrious career both in terms of his acting and, of course, his direction for which he took home the Academy Award for Best Director (the movie went on to win awards for Best Actor for Gene Hackman, Editing and Best Picture which Eastwood received as he was the producer).
I’m not one that normally enjoys or seeks out westerns but along with Eastwood’s The Man with No Name Trilogy (A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More and, especially, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly), Unforgiven is a excellent film tackling violence and the toll it takes on a man, rather than glorifying it. Morgan Freeman is, as always, great in what is a fairly limited role while Gene Hackman shows why he won his Oscar portraying one hell of an antagonist.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 3.5/5
This release comes with a glossy slip cover and inside is a redemption code for the Digital HD copy.
Audio Commentary – Clint Eastwood biographer Richard Schickel provides a nice and informative commentary, although it can get a bit dry. Still, you learn a bit more about the actor/director and at least keeps things going through the 2-hour+ running time.
All on Accounts Pullin’ a Trigger (22:35; SD) – This is a set of interviews, set against scenes from the movie, with Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman and others who were part of the production as they talk about the Western genre and the movie itself.
Eastwood & Company: Making Unforgiven (23:52; SD) featurette is narrated by Hal Holbrook and has an extensive amount of on-set footage. It’s nothing terribly fascinating, given it was made as a promotional piece, but you get some more thoughts and insights about the movie.
Eastwood… A Star (16:07; SD) is another featurette made to promote Unforgiven, just less polished compared with “Eastwood & Company”.
Eastwood on Eastwood (1:08:34; SD) – This 1997 documentary, narrated by John Cusack, chronicles Clint Eastwood’s illustrious career, including his childhood, his love of jazz and working on many genres from the old westerns to the crime thrillers to the occasional comedy he did over the years. This features scenes from his various movies along with behind-the-scenes footage.
Also included is a Classic “Maverick” Episode (49:07; SD) with Clint Eastwood and the Theatrical Trailer (1:57; HD).
4K VIDEO – 4.5/5, BD VIDEO – 4.25/5
|Unforgiven makes its debut onto 4K and it looks pretty darn good. In keeping with the western genre, colors are on the drab side, moving more toward natural tones; detail is brilliant and sharp and there were no obvious signs of flaws like aliasing or artifacts. Not sure if this is a significant upgrade over the Blu-ray by comparison, though when you compare it to the 2012 release, there is a clear difference. The Blu-ray disc meanwhile gets a slight upgrade. The initial release was the old VC-1 codec whereas this one gets the now standard AVC version.
AUDIO – 4.5/5
|The video isn’t the only upgrade, both the 4K and Blu-ray discs feature new audio codecs: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 tracks (the 2012 Blu-ray was standard Dolby Digital 5.1). This one is more dynamic offering excellent depth during the shoot outs but also providing clear dialogue levels with the score soothingly coming over the rear channels.
OVERALL – 4.0/5
Overall, Unforgiven is probably one of the best westerns ever made and it’s a movie that transcends audiences so if you’re like me and don’t normally watch those kinds of movies, give this one a shot: it features fine performances, fine direction and a story that is compelling from beginning to end. The 4K release by Warner offers solid upgrades over its Blu-ray counterpart along with a nice selection of bonus features.
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.