True Grit (Blu-ray) Criticize This! Pick of the Week – I wasn’t overly blown away the first two times I saw the Coen Bros.’ adaptation of Charles Portis’ western novel True Grit, and didn’t see what all the fuss was about. Third time’s a charm, I guess, as watching it again recently on Blu-ray I finally connected with it and found myself loving every moment of it.
The story follows young Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) as she tries to hire a bounty hunter to find the man who killed her daddy. She finds Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges), someone she is told has “true grit”, and soon they are on the hunt together. LaBoeuf (Matt Damon), another bounty hunter, decides to tag along with them to round out the crew. Although Bridges and Damon have done better in previous films, Steinfeld is amazing and really owns the part. For an unknown actress to steal a movie from Bridges and Damon is a feat in itself.
True Grit looks and sounds great on Blu-ray and is definitely one for the collection. The image is crystal clear, and the 5.1 DTS-HD sound mix is perfect, especially during the few gun fights. Special features include an interview with Steinfeld, making-of featurettes, a 30-minute piece on author Charles Portis, and more. A regular DVD and digital copy of the film are included as well. Film *** Blu-ray **** (out of 5 stars).
Just Go With It (Blu-ray) – We’ve seen this movie a hundred times before: guy recruits a close girl friend to help him win over a girl he really likes, only to discover that the close girl friend is really the one for him. Cast Adam Sandler as the guy and Jennifer Aniston as the close friend (well, in this case, his assistant too), and surprisingly it’s a very watchable movie thanks to the chemistry between them. I also found myself laughing a lot more than I usually do while siting through a Sandler film, and I feel that’s because he’s not playing a complete goof in this and is starting to show some maturity with his onscreen comedy (hopefully it lasts). Nicole Kidman and Dave Matthews (yes, the singer) also appear as a hilarious dysfunctional couple (it’s worth it to watch the movie just for them).
The Blu-ray for Just Go With It is standard fare for a romcom. It looks good, but is definitely not required viewing in high-def. Special features include deleted scenes, bloopers, audio commentaries, and more. Film *** Blu-ray ** (out of 5 stars).
Sanctum (Blu-ray) – Where to begin with the terribleness of Sanctum? For starters, I think I would have hated it a lot more if I saw it in the theatre in 3-D as I can’t imagine anything would have been better with that added element. And how did this B-Movie get such a huge backing from James Cameron and Universal Pictures? It’s garbage. The acting and the script are ridiculous, and most of the movie looks washed out and bland. The true story it’s inspired by is heart-wrenching, and for them to make this mockery out of it is just lame. The movie follows a group of cave explorers who find themselves trapped underground about to drown after a tropical storm hits. There are a few scenes that got a reaction out of me as they fight to get out, but overall you’d be better off avoiding this junk.
As for the Blu-ray release, it’s a disgrace to the format. This could be the source material, but I’ve never been so displeased by the video or audio quality of a title in high-def as I was with Sanctum. Special features include deleted scenes, a featurette on the real story, and more. Film ** Blu-ray * (out of 5 stars).
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Top image: A scene from True Grit. Courtesy Paramount Home Entertainment.