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Good Will Hunting: 15th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit), German DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit), French Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, German, Spanish
  • Rating: R
  • Region: AB (No Region C)
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: Lionsgate/Miramax
  • Blu-ray Release Date: August 21, 2012
  • List Price: $14.99

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]

Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:4.5/5]

The long tale of how Good Will Hunting made it to the screen is pretty well documented. Originally written as a thriller by childhood friends Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, the screenplay went through a major overhaul at the urging of Castle Rock Entertainment’s president Rob Reiner. The script was re-written to gut the thriller aspects and focus on the relationship between Damon’s character and his therapist, and the relationship between the character and his new girlfriend.

Although Castle Rock was firmly behind the script with a healthy investment worth several thousand dollars, they were not happy at the thought of Damon and Affleck playing the lead roles, so the script would languish at Castle Rock.  Around this same time Affleck was working with filmmaker Kevin Smith on Mallrats and both Affleck and Damon were working with Smith on the film Chasing Amy. A series of serendipitous events would prevail, leading Smith to intervene and aid Damon and Affleck in bringing their screenplay to Miramax who would eventually buy the rights from Castle Rock, earning the two co-executive producer credits and preserving their places in the lead roles as well.

What eventually made it to celluloid is a touching film directed by Gus Van Sant (Drugstore Cowboy; Milk) about uncanny genius Will Hunting (Mat Damon) from the South End of Boston who comes from a working class background and a past filled with abusive foster parents. Will has developed a proverbial armor to hold people at a distance, but his fear of intimacy also hinders his chances at success.

While working as a janitor at MIT Will solves a nearly impossible equation placed on the board by the university’s prominent mathematics professor, Gerald Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgård), which gets him noticed. Lambeau bails Will out of jail after a fight and convinces a judge to have him released into his custody under the condition that Will works with him and goes to counseling.

This turn of events opens up a whole new world for Will, as he finally meets his match in a “southie” psychiatrist, sympathetically played by Robin Williams and also timidly tries to build a relationship with a Harvard student, portrayed by an unbelievably beautiful Minnie Driver.

Damon and Affleck won themselves a pair of Oscars for best screenplay and Robin Williams took home an Oscar himself for his portrayal as Will Hunting’s strong-willed therapist for Good Will Hunting, they were all deserving of their accolades. Good Will Hunting may not have the edginess of some of director Gus Van Sant’s better works, and it lacks the hip factor of some of Van Sant’s films that preceded it. Occasionally it lapses into moments of saccharine clichés, but it is heartwarming nonetheless, and Robin Williams, Matt Damon, and Minnie Driver exhibit some of the best acting of their careers. This all adds up to a quietly motivational film that is both memorable, plausible, and timeless.

Editor’s Note: Portion’s of this review not related to this particular release were previously published as our Good Will Hunting Blu-ray Review. All screen captures were taken from their respective releases.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

It’s a little difficult to think that Lionsgate/Miramax would remaster Good Will Hunting considering they just released the film on Blu-ray for the first time on Blu-ray just about a year ago August. Well, I don’t know that they have, but they are at the very least using a different source for this release as it looks different from last year’s. In fact, checking under the German menu screen brings up the StudioCanal title screen, which leads me to believe Lionsgate is simply issuing the German/European release of the film. This AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encodement of the film has apparently had its white levels scaled back somewhat and the color palette a bit de-saturated in comparison to last year’s Lionsgate release. Grain is present and the image looks clean and detailed in the close-up shots.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

There’s not much to add about this DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit) mix. It is on the front-heavy side with a small amount of ambience in the surround channels and little in the way of low frequencies. There is a narrow stereo field across the front and dialogue is anchored to the center channel. This edition also adds German DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit) and French Dolby Digital 5.1 dubs.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3/5]

The Digital Copy has been excised from this release, but it replaces that with two new high definition featurettes that bring back Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Robin Williams and Gus Van Sant to reflect on the film and that period in their lives. All other archival, ported over standard definition supplements remain the same including the audio commentaries.

The supplements:

  • Audio Commentary with Director Gus Van Sant, Matt Damon, and Ben Affleck
  • Reflecting on a Journey: Good Will Hunting 15 Years Later (1.78:1; 1080p/24):
    • The Era of Good Will Hunting (00:14:27)
    • Cast and Crew Spotlight (00:34:15)
    • Academy Awards: A Winning Season (00:04:42)
    • Life Goes On (00:08:49)
  • Matt Damon Remembers Good Will Hunting (00:16:46)
  • Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Gus Van Sant, Mat Damon, and Ben Affleck (1.33:1; 480i/60):
    • St. Patrick’s Day Parade
    • Bar-Cat Joke
    • Will Does Math
    • Sean on Roof at Night
    • Will and Lambeau Do Math
    • Will Sees Hypnotist
    • Lambeau with Recruiters
    • Chuckie Meets Recruit
    • Skylar and Chuckie Talk
    • Construction Site
    • “Pudge Fisk” Card
  • Production Featurette (1.33:1; 480i/60; 00:06:38) – A promotional featurette on the production of the film.
  • Theatrical Trailer (1.33:1; 480i/60)
  • Academy Awards Best Picture Montage (1.33:1; 480i/60; 00:00:44)
  • “Miss Misery” Music Video
  • Behind the Scenes (1.33:1; 480i/60; 00:03:36) — – Some on-location B-roll footage.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

One of the classic gems to come out of the 1990s, Good Will Hunting gets a stronger release on Blu-ray, even sans the digital copy, from Lionsgate. It looks a bit better and costs a dollar less, but isn’t necessarily worth repurchasing if you own the previous release.

Additional Screen Captures

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Purchase Good Will Hunting: 15th Anniversary Edition on Blu-ray at CD Universe

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Purchase Good Will Hunting: 15th Anniversary Edition on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Good Will Hunting

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]

Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

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