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Title: Goodfellas

Movie: :5stars:
Video: :3.5stars:
Audio: :4stars:
Extras: :4stars:

HTS Overall Score:84

Once again, Since this has been a film that has been reviewed on HTS before, the film description itself will remain the same and anything new or altered for the 4K release will be bolded.

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.

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

Video :3.5stars:
Warner rescanned “Goodfellas” last year for the 25th anniversary and gave us a stellar 1080p encode for the set, which can be read more in depth HERE, and that same master has been used for the inevitable 4K UltraHD release as well. To put it simply, “Goodfellas” looks the same as the 25th Anniversary edition just BETTER. The grain structure is beautifully replicated although it can be a tad softish around the edges Wood grains and details on faces tend to show the most improvement, with finer detail and a more vivid look to it. There’s still a teensy bit of softness that has been inherent to the film in all the formats I’ve seen it on, but it’s more an overall sheen than anything done in the encode itself to degrade the image. The colors are sharper and deeper in this release, with the reds and golds and blues of the gangster’s suits and hideouts looking magnificent on my 55 inch 4K LED. My only main complaints is that the black levels look a little wonky. They seem a bit washed out for a UHD release and the HDR doesnt seem to help much. Don't get me wrong. The image looks great in 1080p but the increases in UHD aren't as apparent as one would hope. Thankfully we had a full 4K master for “Goodfellas”, so no uprezzing from a 2K master like so many other catalog and new release 4K discs have been.

Audio :4stars:
Sadly there is no upgraded audio tracks for this one, and it sports the same 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio track that was available on the 25th anniversary Blu-ray. That's not a bad thing though, as it was a solid mixing of the film and my thoughts for this track are the same as when I reviewed the 25th Anniversary Edition last year.“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.

Extras :4stars:
• 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
• Trailer

Overall: :4.5stars:

“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). The changes for this release are mainly in the Video department as the audio is still the same across the 25th Anniversary Blu-ray edition and this 4K release. However, all of the extras are ported over on the subsequent Blu-rays included in the combo set (it's actually the 25th anniversary 2 disc set inside this combo pack, which means if you never picked up that great set then it's available in here as well) and the movie is still just as amazing as ever. the decision to upgrade will depend solely on whether you want the uptick in picture quality. the 4K release is the superior product and if you have the equipment, it is the one to buy. However it only BARELY edges out the Blu-ray so it might not be one to upgrade. Or at least not until a price drop

Additional Information:

Starring: Ray Liotta, Robert De Nero, Joe Pesci
Directed by: Martin Scoresese
Written by: Nicholas Pileggi
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 HEVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, Spanish DD 2.0
Studio: Warner Brothers
Rated: R
Runtime: 145 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: December 6th 2016

Buy Goodfellas On 4K Blu-ray at Amazon

Recommendation: Solid Buy

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