- Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
- Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
- Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
- Rating: R
- Region: A (Region-Locked)
- Discs: 2 (1 x Blu-ray + 1 x Digital Copy)
- Studio: Lionsgate/Miramax
- Blu-ray Release Date: August 30, 2011
- List Price: $19.99
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)
Editor’s Note: Portion’s of this review not related to this particular release were previously published as our Good Will Hunting [Canadian Import] Blu-ray Review. All screen captures were taken from their respective releases.
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.
I previously reviewed the Canadian Blu-ray release of Good Will Hunting from Alliance, which had some issues with source damage, flesh tones, and a rather low-bitrate encodement. This new release from Lionsgate/Miramax shows a definite improvement over that release. This AVC/MPEG-4 encodement averages around ~38Mbps and shows a bit more detail and is definitely cleaner overall. Colors pop a bit more, but flesh tones are a little too reddish. There is a layer of grain, sometimes a little coarse, that imparts a very natural quality to the presentation.
This DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is on the front-heavy side with a very slight bit of low-level 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.
The audio commentary is actually rather informative and conversational, but the video supplements are all rather vintage, with everything being in standard definition and nothing new being added in high definition for this new release.
The supplements provided with this release are:
- Audio Commentary with Director Gus Van Sant, Matt Damon, and Ben Affleck
- 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; 00:06:39) – A promotional featurette on the production of the film.
- Theatrical Trailer (1.33:1; 480i/60)
- Academy Award 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)
- DTS-HD Sound Check
- Digital Copy – For Mac/PC, iTunes/Windows Media-compatible devices.
The Definitive Word
One of the classic gems to come out of the 1990s, Good Will Hunting finally sees a strong North American high definition release in this quality Blu-ray from Lionsgate and Miramax. Even if you already own the barebones Canadian Blu-ray release, this one is worth it for so much more than just the added supplemental materials. It is definitely a superior transfer. Highly recommended.
Additional Screen Captures