Silverado appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. While not consistently excellent, the transfer proved to be consistently positive.
Sharpness looked quite strong. A few wider shots demonstrated a slightly soft look, but those were infrequent. Otherwise the movie seemed crisp and well-defined. I noticed no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, and it lacked edge enhancement. In addition, source flaws failed to become a problem during this clean presentation.
As often occurs with Westerns, Silverado featured a warm, somewhat sepia-toned palette. This meant few bright tones, but I didn’t regard that as a problem. The movie offered consistently rich colors with good life and dimensionality. Blacks also seemed deep and firm, while shadows were tight and smooth. This was a solid “B+” that bordered on an “A-“ much of the time.
I also felt consistently impressed by the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio of Silverado. I don't expect a whole lot from mixes for movies from the mid-Eighties; they usually sound decent but very dated. This wasn't much of a problem with Silverado. Although it lacked the scope of more recent audio tracks, I found the mix to be almost shockingly good.
The forward soundstage appeared very wide and broad. The audio presented well-localized placement of elements that blended together nicely. The rear channels mainly bolstered the music, but they did so very actively. While some films just gently reinforce the score from the surrounds, Silverado made the rears crank the music strongly. A decent amount of effects popped up from the surrounds as well, especially during gunfights. These helped create an involving soundfield.
Audio quality was also surprisingly strong; rarely did I feel like I was listening to a 24-year-old film. Dialogue sounded consistently clear and natural, with no intelligibility problems or issues connected to edginess. Effects could appear somewhat bland at times but were generally clean and acceptably realistic. Actually, only a few gunshots slightly disappointed me, as some of those lacked great definition.
The score remained the real star of the show, however. Bruce Broughton's music comes across as full-bodied and powerful, and it really kicked in a lot of good bass. Above all else, it's the excellent quality of the score that made Silverado sound so good. This was a surprisingly positive track.
How did the picture and audio of this Blu-ray compare with those of the prior “Gift Set” DVD? The audio was a wash. The movie always sounded good, so while the lossless TrueHD mix added a little zip, it still sounded a lot like its predecessors.
On the other hand, visuals demonstrated a significant improvement. The last DVD suffered from noticeable edge enhancement and also had a smattering of source flaws. The Blu-ray lost these problems and looked substantially more impressive.
The Blu-ray repeats most of the supplements from the “Gift Set” DVD. We open with an audio commentary. Called “Along the Silverado Trail”, this piece features Western historians. We hear from writer/film historian Frank Thompson, Western historian Paul Hutton, and UCLA history professor Steve Aaron, all of whom sit together for their running, screen-specific chat. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this piece, but I found a very lively and entertaining look at Westerns.
The trio cover a mix of appropriate topics. They mostly discuss the historical antecedents of Silverado in both film and reality. We find lots of remarks about the film’s accuracy - or lack thereof - as well as rich investigations of its connections to other Western flicks. A good layer of production notes also appear to give us some information about Silverado, mostly in regard to locations.
At times the nit-picky focus on accuracy becomes a bit anal, but the guys recognize this and even joke about it. They also mention that absolute accuracy isn’t always a good thing, as unembellished stories don’t ensure good movies. Really, my only complaint about this track stems from a moderate level of self-promotion in which the participants indulge, as they often mention other products. Again, they handle this with good humor, and they also needle each other; it seems clear they know each other well. I had my doubts about this piece, but it ends up as a fun and informative discussion.
Next we go to a documentary titled A Return to Silverado With Kevin Costner. In this 20-minute and 59-second program, Costner discusses his early fondness for Westerns, his casting in Silverado and his initial impression of the part, character notes, the collaboration with Kasdan and the other actors, and some general thoughts on aspects of the story and the movie. Costner provides an insightful look at the flick and a mix of elements. He proves frank about errors in judgment and gives us a nice feel for things in this tight little show.
Next we find a 37-minute and one-second documentary about the film. The Making of Silverado offers a good look at the creation of the film. It provides us with film clips, outtakes, production stills and a combination of new and archival interviews. We hear from director Lawrence Kasdan, co-writer/executive producer Mark Kasdan, director of photography John Bailey, production designer Ida Random, editor Carol Littleton, composer Bruce Broughton, and actors Kevin Kline, Danny Glover, Scott Glenn and Linda Hunt.
We hear about the origins of the flick, its writing and development, visual design and locations, the building of the town, cinematography, rehearsals, gun training, the depiction of violence, storyboards and editing, stunts and horse-riding, acting choices, the atmosphere on the set, balancing the various storylines and cut sequences, sound design, the score, original plans for a sequel, and the movie’s legacy. This program offers an excellent look behind the scenes of the flick and it packs a lot of good information into its relatively brief running time. It's a solid documentary.
A few ads appear in the Previews domain. We get promos for The Da Vinci Code, Casino Royale, Ghostbusteres, A River Runs Through It, Damages Season One. No trailer for Silverado shows up here.
Finally, the Blu-ray release includes a hardcover book. This comes as part of the package; open up the disc’s casing and the book appears on the left half. It features a mix of components. In terms of text, it gives us production notes and cast biographies. It also features a mix of movie photos and some poster images. It’s a nice little addition to the set.
One additional comment about the supplements: the Blu-ray’s case mentions a feature called “movieIQ”. This sounds like a running, interactive component. Unfortunately, it requires BD Live to access it. My player lacks that connection, so I can’t comment on its contents.
Does the Blu-ray lose anything from the “Gift Set”? It drops some non-disc-based materials; the “Gift Set” included playing cards and a booklet. It also omits the film’s trailer and a fluffy featurette called “A History of Western Shootouts”. It’s too bad the disc leaves out the trailer, but I don’t miss the others, especially since the book outdoes the booklet.