Good Will Hunting appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this DVD. The image has NOT been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. That was just one of the many problems on display here.
Sharpness was mediocre at best. Though close-ups displayed decent clarity, wider shots became mushier, a factor exacerbated by some prominent edge haloes. Occasional instances of jaggies and shimmering occurred, and digital artifacts gave the movie a messy appearance. On top of that, I saw a mix of specks, marks and blemishes; these weren’t intense, but they created consistent distractions.
Colors followed the parade of concerns. The hues tended to look runny and heavy; they weren’t terrible, but they seemed too dense. Blacks were fine, at least, and shadows seemed acceptable, though some shots tended to be a bit thick. This was an old transfer that hasn’t held up well over the years.
I got a more consistent impression from the film’s Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, but that didn’t mean I heard anything especially impressive. However, a character piece like Hunting wouldn’t benefit from a slam-bang soundscape, so the limited scope of the mix worked fine. The movie demonstrated a nice sense of environment without any scenes that stood out in a notable way. Bars, a ball game and a fight were probably the most involving settings, but they weren’t especially exciting. These offered good atmosphere – with an emphasis on the forward channels – and made for a low-key but acceptable presentation.
Audio quality was fine. Speech appeared distinctive and concise, without brittle tones or other issues. Music was lush and full, while effects demonstrated nice accuracy and clarity. Again, nothing here seemed particularly memorable, but the package suited the movie.
Among the extras, we open with an audio commentary from director Gus Van Sant and writers/actors Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. All three sit together for a running, screen-specific look at the film’s roots, development and script, set design, locations and visuals, cast and crew, and other aspects of the production.
Normally directors dominate commentaries like this, but in this case, that doesn’t hold to be true. While Van Sant gives us a reasonable amount of info, the loquacious Damon and Affleck do most of the chatting – or at least more of the chatting, as I don’t want to leave the impression Van Sant sits silently.
Whoever speaks, they make this a pretty solid chat. At times, we get a bit more happy talk than I’d like, but the participants nonetheless manage to deliver a wealth of useful information. They do this with good humor and create an engaging, enjoyable piece.
Footnote: 14 years after the release of Hunting, it’s fascinating to hear the perspectives of the then-young Affleck and Damon, especially when viewed through the prism of how their careers went.
11 Deleted Scenes run a total of 20 minutes, 38 seconds. Most of these offer small character bits and/or exposition. Lambeau gets the most benefit from these, as they flesh out his part a little better, and we get more Chuckie as well. We also find some extended scenes, such as the one in which Chuckie meets with job recruiters. Some of these are interesting, some are fun, but none are particularly valuable or significant. One in which Chuckie chats with Skylar comes close to real relevance but doesn’t quite get there; while it offers some decent notes, it would’ve slowed down the final cut of the film.
We can watch these with commentary from Van Sant, Affleck and Damon. Whereas Damon and Affleck did most of the talking during the feature track, Van Sant comes to the fore here. While the writers/actors get in plenty of notes, Van Sant does the heavy lifting since he has to let us know why he cut the sequences. We also find out background for the pieces. The notes add valuable information about the deleted scenes.
Under Production Featurette, we get a six-minute, 39-second reel. It includes notes from Van Sant, Affleck, Damon, producer Lawrence Bender, and actors Minnie Driver and Robin Williams. They tell us about the story and characters plus a few production basics. Very few, that is, as this promotional piece is a long ad and nothing more; you can safely skip it.
A Music Video appears next. This comes for “Miss Misery” from Elliott Smith and uses a format that intercuts movie clips with unique footage of the singer. It feels like it wants to create a little story, especially when we see a cop follow Smith down a street. That theme never pays off, so this ends up as a dull video.
For something unusual, we view an Academy Award Best Picture Montage. This 44-second clip simply shows the reel that ran at the Oscars to represent the film to the broadcast audience. It’s not especially interesting, but it’s kind of fun as an archival piece.
Behind the Scenes lasts three minutes, 36 seconds and takes us to the set – or sets, as it were, as we visit a number of locations. These let us glimpse the shoot in various stages. It’s brief and perfunctory but reasonably good to see.
Some ads finish the set. We get a trailer and four TV spots.
A consistently involving character piece, Good Will Hunting hits the occasional snag, but it’s usually pretty solid. It boasts a consistently high level of acting and writing that makes it an enjoyable piece. The DVD offers decent audio and a nice array of supplements, but the non-16X9-enhanced image makes this disc a relic of a different age.