HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Goodfellas 25th Anniversary Edition
HTS Overall Score:88
I have to say this. I hate gangster movies. Just about every gangster movie ever made has bored me to tears. “Scarface”? Can’t stand it. “American Gangster? It was mildly interesting. Besides the ultimate classic, “The Godfather”, I really don’t have much interest in the genre. There’s something about idolizing and rooting for gangsters and thugs that really puts me off. I guess it comes from having so many police officers in my family and extended family. I just can’t get into them, but “Goodfellas” is one of those movies that is so masterfully and artfully done that you just can’t help loving every second of it. It’s the way that Scorsese made you kind of like Henry Hill, but at the same time sit there horrified and disgusted with the things that he allows himself to do. The mix is fantastic and not only that it is one of the best FILMS ever made, not just one of the best gangster films.
The film is basically a memoir of real life gangster Henry Hill. Written by Nicholas Pileggi, who wrote both the book AND the screenplay for the movie, it tells the tale of Henry looking back over his life, narrating as you would his experiences. Growing up as half Italian and half Irish in Brooklyn, Henry (Ray Liotta) grew up idolizing the mobsters of the Lucchese crime syndicate. He started out as just a little errand boy, but sooner, rather than later, he started pulling jobs for them. By the time he was 21 years old he had it all. Booze, respect, money, women and power. Hanging out with his two mobster pals, Jimmy (Robert Di Nero) and Tommy (Joe Pesci), Henry is king of the world, at least by your average blue collar gangster standards. He meets the perfect girl, Karen (Lorraine Bracco) and settles into the family.
Things are nothing but up up up and up for Henry. He moves from being a low level gangster to a trusted member of Pauly Cicero (Paul Sorvino) and the loot is never ending. Things change after a giant heist and Henry is sent to jail for 4 years. Getting into the drug trade, against Pauly’s advice, its back on the wagon, but for how long. Years later Henry is snorting his own product and making sloppy mistakes. Sooner or later every high flying plane has to come down and it comes crashing down in a drug raid. Pinched and up against a wall, there’s only one option, that of becoming a normal schmuck in witness protection and ratting out his own friends. The end of an era, the end of it all.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=44457[/img]The film is told via Ray Liotta’s narration, and even though we have equal screen time with Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro, the film is really all about Ray. His voice winds throughout ever scene of the movie and draws the viewers into his head. That voice tells us all the backstory, all the back dealings, and all the back stabbing that goes on behind smiling voices. Watching Henry you begrudgingly realize just how enticing that life is. They say power corrupts, and ultimate power corrupts completely, and you see why. Give these boys a little wealth and power and the draw of that power is just too enticing to stay safe.
While the storytelling isn’t wildly exciting, it’s one of the most fascinating and enthralling movies I’ve ever watched. We literally see Ray Liotta and crew go from childhood up to their eventual demises showing all the boring parts, the interesting parts, and the in-betweens, yet we can’t ever take our eyes off the screen. The reason being is the characters are just so impressively well done. Every single character is a despicable scumbag, but they each have their reasons, their motivations and their desires that shape and mold them into the men they are. Henry is a man who just craves to be one of the big boys, but never will be. His eccentricities and lusts are understandable and even desired after for a brief carnal instant. I would have a hard time if offered many of those same opportunities and understand just why he fell the way he did, especially considering his upbringing. Tommy is the crazed maniac of the movie. He’s full blooded Italian, and one of the contenders for being in “The Family”, but his violent impulses are never fully contained and takes offense at everything. These very same violent impulses are the same ones that will eventually lead to his untimely demise. Jimmy is smooth, slick and incredibly well organized. He’s the thinker of the group and the most likeable of them. Together they all make up the goodfellas. The guys who have stuck around since childhood, but would stab each other in the back when needed (as Henry finds out). These guys aren’t your typical mobster film leader. They’re basically blue collar bosses who are doing the street work. There’s no “Godfather” type Dons, but rather it shows crime and all the carnal pleasures that come with it on the street level. Henry is a guy who went after what he wanted, lived the life and even today in witness protection, after all of it came crashing down, looking at the camera and wishing for the glory days.
Rated R for strong violence, pervasive language, and some drug use
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=44465[/img]The original 2007 Blu-ray release of “Goodfellas” was struck from a dated transfer made for DVD years and years ago. It wasn’t a horrible transfer, but it was definitely faded and showed some serious color and contrast issues. Come 2010 we get a nice Digibook release for the 20th Anniversary with a ton of special features. The sad thing is, we got the same old recycled transfer. NOW after 5 more years we finally get a new 4K remastering with new color timing, new everything. I have the original disc and the very first thing I did when I got the 25th anniversary edition was pop in the disc and compare the two. I have to say that it is a night and day difference. The 2007 version has poor colors, boosted contrast and a heavy dose of digital tampering done to it. The first thing I noticed when I started watching was that it looked like a veil had been lifted from the film. That grey haze that was so prevalent on the old release was finally good. Being that it was a full-fledged remaster, those annoying horizontal and vertical lines that showed up in a few scenes on the DVD and 2007 Blu-ray were gone as well. Detail is spectacular and I could see little details that I never noticed before. The disc looks a tad softer than the previous edition, but that’s a VERY good thing. Not soft as in smeary or less detailed, but more like natural FILM than overly sharpened and processed. Black levels are deep and inky with great shadow detail. I did notice a few instances of black crush, but it was never very much.
As mentioned, Warner Brothers rescanned the film from the original negative and then color timed the movie in the digital world. Being that it was re-color timed that means decades later we have someone tinkering around with the coloring and that can always introduce unwanted elements (think “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly” type scenario). The colors have been altered from the old DVD transfer, and I have to trust that they are closest to the theatrical print as I’ve never seen the movie projected in theaters. However, the new color timing looks PHENOMINAL. Colors are bright and rich, with a decidedly bluer push than the old master. Primaries are nice and strong and I noticed that a few things that looked decidedly washed out and over contrasted in the original printing looks pristine and very natural. Skin tones are impressive and accurate with excellent contrast. All around a fantastic looking transfer of a film shot by one of Scorsese’s best cinematographers, David Ballhaus. A+ to Warner for this one.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=44473[/img]“Goodfellas” was one of the unfortunate Blu-rays in the early days of the format war where a lossless audio track was forgone in favor of 640 kbps Dolby Digital. With all the releases and re-releases of the title the audio track was recycled just as many times as the video encode was. This time Warner upped the ante and gave us a full-fledged 5.1 DTS-HD MA track that really fleshes out the audio and gives it that push that it needed to go over the edge and go all the way. The dialogue for the film is clean and crystal clear (except for one little scene in the apartment mixing drugs where it sounds as if it’s being filmed underwater). Gun shots reverberate with power and authority, digging deep with some impressive LFE. It’s never a powerhouse action track, but the surrounds get a solid workout with the score and plenty of busy city noises. One little interesting tidbit about the score. There was never a unique “score” per se, created for the film. Instead they used pop culture songs from the actual decades being portrayed in the film. There’s not one single song or note in the entire movie that isn’t used from established artists.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=44481[/img]• Audio Commentary With Director Ava DuVernay and Actor David Oyelowo
• Scorsese's Goodfellas (New)
• Book (New)
• Letter from Scorsese (New)
• Cast and Crew Commentary
• Cop and Crook Commentary
• Getting Made
• Public Enemies: The Golden Age of the Gangster Film
• Made Men: The "Goodfellas" Legacy
• The Workaday Gangster
• Animated Shorts
• Paper is Cheaper Than Film
“Goodfellas” is one of the most popular and well known gangster flicks in history, and there’s a reason why. It just flows so well and sucks the viewer in to the story of guns, knives, betrayal and friendship. None of the characters are good guys, but you can’t take your eyes off the screen. Scorsese does great work, and “Goodfellas” has to be his crowning jewel (sorry “Departed”, I loved you, but not as much as this one). With the new 4K transfer with lossless audio and the fantastic new extras, this is a must buy for any fan of the movie. It’s worth every penny and a TRUE upgrade from the original Blu-ray and DVD.
Starring: Ray Liotta, Robert De Nero, Joe Pesci
Directed by: Martin Scoresese
Written by: Nicholas Pileggi
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, Hungarian, Polish, Thai Japanese DD 2.0, Turkish DD Mono, Russian DD 5.1
Studio: Warner Brothers
Runtime: 145 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: May 5th 2015
Buy Goodfellas 25th Anniversary Edition On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Must Buy
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