Good Will Hunting appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The image came with plenty of good but also more bad than expected.
The majority of the transferís negatives come from print flaws. While not overwhelming, the movie showed quite a few small specks. Again, these didnít dominate, but they popped up consistently throughout the film and created distractions.
Otherwise, the image was pretty satisfying. The movie occasionally looked a bit soft, partially due to some light edge enhancement. However, the image usually appeared pretty concise and accurate. I noticed no issues with jaggies or shimmering.
In terms of colors, Hunting delivered a somewhat golden tint. The tones appeared warm and fulfilling, as within the palette design, the hues looked nice. Blacks were deep and dense, while shadows seemed clear and well-defined. Though many aspects of the image worked well, the frequent source defects and occasional softness made this a ďC+Ē affair.
I got a more consistent impression from the filmís DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, but that didnít mean I heard anything especially impressive. However, a character piece like Hunting wouldnít 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 werenít especially exciting. These offered good atmosphere Ė with an emphasis on the forward channels Ė 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.
How did the picture and sound of this Blu-Ray compare with those of the original DVD from 1998? The scope of the audio remained the same, but the DVDís track was mixed much lower and seemed a bit feeble; the Blu-ray came across as more dynamic and full.
Visuals demonstrated more obvious improvements. The DVD came from the Stone Ages and lacked anamorphic enhancement; add to that copious edge enhancement and various artifacts and the image was a mess. The Blu-ray has its concerns, but itís significantly tighter and more appealing than the ugly old DVD.
Almost all the DVDís extras repeat here. 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 filmís 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 doesnít hold to be true. While Van Sant gives us a reasonable amount of info, the loquacious Damon and Affleck do most of the chatting Ė or at least more of the chatting, as I donít 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 Iíd 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, itís 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 doesnít quite get there; while it offers some decent notes, it wouldíve 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 ďMiss MiseryĒ 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. Itís not especially interesting, but itís kind of fun as an archival piece.
Behind the Scenes lasts three minutes, 36 seconds and takes us to the set Ė or sets, as it were, as we visit a number of locations. These let us glimpse the shoot in various stages. Itís brief and perfunctory but reasonably good to see.
The disc opens with ads for Rounders, Swingers, and The Conspirator. These show up under Also from Lionsgate, and we find the trailer for Hunting as well.
A second disc delivers a digital copy of Hunting. As always, this means you can transfer the movie to a computer or portable viewing device.
A consistently involving character piece, Good Will Hunting hits the occasional snag, but itís usually pretty solid. It boasts a consistently high level of acting and writing that makes it an enjoyable piece. The Blu-ray offers mediocre visuals and decent audio; supplements offer some nice materials, though, especially via a very good commentary. Iím disappointed by the erratic picture quality, but this is still easily the best version of the film on the market.
To rate this film, visit the Special Edition review of GOOD WILL HUNTING