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GoodFellas [Blu-ray]
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364 of 395 people found the following review helpful
on August 22, 2004
There's nothing I can say that hasn't already been said about "Goodfellas"... it's one of the best movies ever. To hell with the AFI, this is arguably one of the top 10 American movies ever made! Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco: five top-notch talents operating on all 8 cylinders in this story about three decades of life in the mob.

Now, you'd think that Warner Brothers would give this movie the most complete Warner DVD release that's ever existed. A fervent popular following, a high level of anticipation for a special edition, and the current booming state of the DVD industry should've made this a no-brainer slam dunk for Warner's marketing and home video departments. And so, after years of having to flip over the old disc, after years of almost crushing that flimsy snap case, after years of listening to that 5.1 surround that sounded suspiciously like 2-channel, should you get this new version?? The answer is a resounding..."maybe".

Arguably the biggest plus to this new edition of "Goodfellas" is the fact that the whole movie is contained on a single side of a dual-layered disc. The "all-new digital transfer", enhanced for 16:9, is only a marginal improvement over the original release (which was also listed as being "enhanced for widescreen TVs" on the package; it wasn't). Strangely enough, in the scene where Jimmy (De Niro) and Paulie (Paul Sorvino) go to convince Henry to go home to Karen, there is a very noticeable screen-split line on the film that sections De Niro's face in half. This isn't the transfer's problem, per se; it looks more like something off the film print. The strange thing is I don't remember this streak being present on the old version. Maybe it's only a minor peeve, but still, this is the kind of thing you'd expect a studio to clean up for a special edition.

The English audio is the same old Dolby-Surround-masquerading-as-5.1 mix used in the old version. The package incorrectly lists Spanish as the alternate language; it's still French. Nothing more to say about that.

The disc menus are static, and they all have this generic-sounding jazz score playing over them. Remember all the jazz in "Goodfellas"? Yeah, me neither.

Of course, the real reason most people are running out to get this new set is to see the special features. This DVD includes 2 commentaries: one with various cast & crew members, the other with Henry Hill & ex-FBI agent Ed McDonald (who plays himself at the end of the movie). Of the 2 commentaries, the track with real-life players Hill and McDonald is infinitely more interesting, even though Hill mumbles more than Keith Richards having an acid flashback.
When I bought this set, I was looking forward to some feature-length Scorsese, Pesci, Liotta &/or Bracco commentary (I didn't dare to hope for Robert De Niro, I mean, be serious), with some funny stories or moviemaking info. Instead, what you get is a few new comments cobbled together with 10-15 year old sound bites from De Niro and Joe Pesci. Basically, the first 90 minutes of commentary is a total strokefest ("oh-this-guy-was-so-great", "oh-she-did-a-really-good-job") with only Scorsese, author Nick Pileggi, Liotta, and cinematographer Michael Ballhaus saving it. It picks up towards the end, though, when Lorraine Bracco (who shoots down the "screen-specific commentary" illusion when she talks about having watched the movie on the morning she's being interviewed) and editor Thelma Schoonmaker drop some funny thoughts.

As for the rest of the extras? There's really no need to have a second disc to contain them; the total running time of all the "documentaries", as Warner calls them ("featurettes", I call 'em), along with the theatrical trailer is less than an hour. Plenty of room for these on the first disc, but then I guess Warner felt they needed another selling point with the whole 2-disc thing. To summarize the 1/2-hour making-of documentary: "Martin Scorsese is a great director." Remember those 6 words and everything else is cream cheese.
The second major documentary, at around 13 minutes long, has interviews with some younger writer-directors who've found themselves influenced by "Goodfellas". Only 5 words to remember this time: "'Goodfellas' is a brilliant movie."
The other two featurettes are about 10 minutes altogether. One is a storyboard-to-screen comparison, the other is a little throwaway piece with some cast & crew anecdotes. 4 words will do this one just fine: "Warner Brothers is lazy."

It's really a shame that Warner Brothers couldn't wait just a tad longer and include some truly special features for one of the best movies their studio has ever produced. With the stellar jobs they've done on their other 2-disc reissues, like "Enter the Dragon", "The Right Stuff", "Singin' in the Rain" --jeez, even "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" has better features than this!!-- I expected Warner Bros. to really pull out all the stops for this new edition of "Goodfellas", but it's a big letdown. Still, it is an improvement (no matter how minor) over the previous release, and as it is probably the "best" version we're ever gonna get on DVD, I would have to recommend picking it up.

However, if you already own the movie, keep three things in mind. Ask yourself 1.) if you really mind flipping the old disc over, 2.) if you've got a normal full-screen TV, do you really need a new anamorphic transfer?, and 3.) do you really need to see the special features if they're not exactly top quality? If your answer to any of these things is "no", then I'd think long and hard about shelling out another $20.

**UPDATE - 12/31/2010** Having recently gotten a PS3, I've been going nuts updating as many of my DVDs as possible to Blu-Ray, but like most people who've made the switch, I've come to learn that it's not always worth it in every case. I just got the new 20th Anniversary Edition Goodfellas BluRay and I can confirm that it has the same exact lame special features we were issued on the so-called "special" edition DVD six years ago (with two "new" extras; more on that in a minute).

The image upgrade is noticeable to me, but not impressive enough (that line is STILL running down De Niro's face) for me to recommend laying out yet another 20-odd dollars for the same product. C'mon, Warners, all this time and you still haven't learned your lesson? And being that this is Blu-Ray, maybe a TrueHD audio track would be in order? Nope, we get the same old 5.1. Thanks a pantload.

So what's new on this 20th Anniversary release? Well, I'll admit it does have a snazzy hardbound book-shaped case, even if it doesn't have much in common with the film, design-wise. There's also a pretty nice booklet about 30 pages long with stills from the movie. There are also two additional features that weren't present on the original DVD: a documentary on the history of the '30s and '40s gangster movies and a selection of mob-themed Looney Tunes shorts. The problem is, this is recycled content; the cartoons can be found in the Looney Tunes sets, while the documentary is a leftover from a Warner Brothers gangster movie box set released a few years ago. They're both fun, both interesting, but have only the most tenuous connections with Goodfellas. Couldn't squeeze one substantial new extra out of this new release, could they? Once again, all people wanted was a little decent treatment given to one of the best movies ever produced by a major studio. Once again, Warner Brothers has proven they just don't get it. Fair enough, but this is the last copy of Goodfellas I buy. I don't care if they come out with the deluxe 25th Anniversary 3D Super-BluRay Scratch 'n Sniff Edition, I'm not biting.

On a side note, I just want to say thanks to everybody for all the helpful votes and whatnot, glad you found this review useful over time. Take care!
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102 of 112 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2007
Goodfellas has long been one of my favorite movies. I've watched it many times since I saw it in the theater. I've seen it on tape, on laserdisc, on the original "flipper" DVD and the remastered anamorphic DVD, and now, Blu-Ray Disc.

I'm happy to report that the Blu-Ray is a significant improvement over the remastered DVD. The picture is brighter, the colors are more vivid, and many scenes have much more detail and clarity. Of course, the overall picture is much sharper.

Goodfellas is not the kind of movie that is a showcase for high-resolution video, however. It has a lot of dark indoor scenes; very little takes place outdoors (something I never noticed before). I noticed some graininess, which has a lot to do with how Scorcese shot the picture. It's just more noticeable in the higher resolution.

There are some minor problems with the audio in one scene. The dialogue drops in volume and then jumps back up in the following scene. Other than that, the audio is fine, although I would have liked a more aggressive surround mix, at least in the musical selections. However, there's not much use of the surrounds here.

Also, at one point there's a vertical line halfway across the screen. Why this wasn't cleaned up is mystery to me; it lasts for about fifteen seconds. Admittedly this is a very minor problem, but with expensive new technology flaws of this kind stand out more than they would on tape or standard DVD.

If you're a fan of the movie and are considering upgrading to the Blu-Ray, I'd highly recommend it. It's not an eye-popping effects movie to begin with, so this disc isn't the first one to reach for if you want to show off your system. But it's probably the best way to watch the movie.
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on March 12, 2000
A contemporary classic stylishly directed by Martin Scorsese, it's among his finest two plus hours (and that's really saying something coming from the man who brought us Taxi Driver & Raging Bull!). He once again teams with Robert DeNiro to bring this seering tale of New York City's organized crime syndicate in the late 70's to life. The supporting cast includes Ray Liotta, Lorraine Bracco and Joe Pesci (in the scene-stealing performance that won him the Oscar). Based on the novel Wiseguy by Nicolas Pillegi (who co-wrote the script) Goodfellas follows the life of Henry Hill, a connected guy who lives out his criminal fantasy of being a member of the mob and eventually decends into drugs, which leads to his ultimate demise. The use of the oldies pop/rock soundtrack has often been immitated but never duplicated (though Pulp Fiction would be a comperable comparison). Beware: fans of The Godfather may be distraught in seeing their ideallic vision of mob life torn down brick by brick. Let there be no mistake, this mob movie stands unrivaled (though it's getting a push from the HBO series The Sopranos). I urge fans of this movie to check out The King of Comedy (another DeNiro/Scorsese masterpiece).
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86 of 108 people found the following review helpful
on August 21, 2004
GoodFellas is on top of my "best films of all time" list. I was one of the people who had bought the previous DVD edition, the infamous "two-sided, no features" release that had been one of the first generation of DVD releases, before the medium evolved into what it is today. I had been counting the days until they would re-release this film, so I was first in line to get this new edition.

Unfortunately, though this edition is much better than the previous one, it very much pales alongside most modern DVD packages.

The package aroused many suspicions in me that this was a rush job. Among my dissatisfactions:

- There's no booklet, leaflet, film histories, or printed material of any kind which generally supplements a two-disc release like this;

- The film is long, but still under the three-hour mark, and the second disc has three short (eight to 20 minutes), unremarkable documentaries plus a storyboard-film comparison. Wouldn't all this material have fit on a single disc? Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story had three times the media and was only a single disc. If they didn't have enough material, why did they put up the illusion that there are two discs' worth?

- There are only two commentaries, and one of them isn't even complete. The "Cop and Crook" commentary is interesting, applying the great idea of bringing back Henry Hill (on whose life this film and its source book Wiseguy were based) and the prosecutor who had sponsored his Witness Protection Program, Edward McDonald. It's not a very illuminating commentary, but it's still good to see what Hill is like today. However, the "Cast and Crew" commentary is suspect. Not only does it not cover the entire film, I actually suspect it was not recorded as a commentary, but edited from fragmentary interviews. So rarely do the cast and director on this track comment on the specific scenes, the way a commentary should, that I don't think they were watching the film as they were speaking; I think the production company simply mixed the sound louder and created the illusion that this was a commentary track. I don't know for sure if this is the case, but if it is, I consider it very dishonest marketing. Don't call it a commentary unless it is one!

- I found absolutely no new insights into Martin Scorsese or the film from the additional materials. The "making of" documentary is the usual "heap praise upon the director" baloney. Come on, do we actually *need* you to tell us that Scorsese is great? How about giving some anecdotes and insight into the film instead?

All of the above adds up to a very underwhelming DVD release of a film that's possibly the greatest American film of the last 20 years. However, there is still one incentive to own it -- the entire film is contained, without interruptions, on one disc. So unlike with the old DVD release, you can actually watch the whole film now without having to turn the disc over. So this is still the best available version of the film out there. However, I remain displeased. After years of waiting, and being disappointed, why does this edition fail to satisfy?

I can only hope that the impossible would happen -- that Warner Bros. would let The Criterion Collection take a stab at this film, and do it justice. It will never happen, but the very idea does whet the appetite.
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on December 15, 1999
After Godfather I and II, Goodfellas has to be the best "mob" movie out there. But I was disappointed in the DVD for one BIG reason. I had to flip the damn thing over halfway through the movie! I stayed away from laserdisc for this very reason. C'Mon Warner Brothers! There is no reaon that this couldn't have been created as a dual-layer DVD. I'd even spend a couple extra bucks for it.
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 1999
This is as close to an ideal movie as you're going to get. It's based on a fabulous book (Nicolas Pileggi's Wiseguy), has an excellent script, a good soundtrack and features outstanding performances from Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci.
I've heard Goodfellas compared to The Godfather over and over again, but that comparison doesn't work for me. I actually found it to be the anti-Godfather. Goodfellas is much more gritty and real. It depicts the same violent, dangerous world that The Godfather did, but with all the grandeur stripped away. The harshness of Goodfellas will almost rub you raw at times, but in many ways its more rivetting than The Godfather because of its almost complete lack of sentiment. This is definitely a gripping, intense movie that will hold your attention for its entire 2 1/2 hrs.
Though Goodfellas is categorized as an action movie and does contain the requisite number of fights, explosions, etc., it's actually much more finely nuanced and psychologically complex than what you'd normally expect from this genre.
Ray Liotta's performance as Henry Hill is skillfully understated. You can really feel his ambivalence about the life he's leading and the people in it and his transformation from a street smart kid into the burned out, coked out loser he turns into is really disturbing. Henry literally self-destructs.
Joe Pesci delivers an equally powerful performance as sociopath Tommy DeVito. Tommy is so remorseless that he casually discusses cooking while burying one of the unfortunate victims of his lightning-quick temper. It's Tommy's non-chalance that makes him so frightening.
Robert De Niro is wonderful as well as Jimmy Conway, a man whose charm and congeniality mask his icy heartedness. Jimmy makes it so easy to like him and trust him, yet he betrays everyone who makes that mistake. Beneath his seemingly sincere good will is pure self-interest. Jimmy does what's good for Jimmy. Period.
Part of what I thought made this movie so interesting is the relationship between Henry, Tommy and Jimmy and how they react to the same events. Jimmy never, ever loses his cool or his surface lustre while the evil in Tommy feeds on itself and he becomes more evil. Henry, however, degenerates and falls apart. This is what makes Henry the only sympathetic character and the one whose redemption you'll hope for. Will Henry be redeemed? You'll have to watch Goodfellas and find out for yourself.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on June 22, 2002
There's only one word to describe this movie: MASTERPIECE!!
This movie is unbelievable in all its glitzy and gritty deliciousness. It stars Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Paul Sorvino, and Lorraine Bracco. Ray Liotta is the film's central figure as his narrative lets the audience in on the mafia life he had lived for nearly 30 years.
Robert De Niro plays veteran gangster Jimmy Conway. Although it is in some instances, a more 'quiet' role, De Niro delivers a characteristcally electrifying perfomanance. He's captivating. But for hard-core De Niro fans like myself, we expect nothing less from the master.
Joe Pesci's role as trigger happy gangster Tommy DeVito is awesome. He provides the black comedy that is present in the film as well as the extra boost of energy and star power.He's a mean force to reckon with. Pesci's Oscar for his work in this film was well-deserved. If he didn't win, they would have to answer this movie kingpin! :)
Paul Sorvino plays the kingpin Paulie whom Henry views as his adopted father. His performance is highly commendable. He has a quiet furiousity in his role.
Lorraine Bracco gives a 'pre-Sopranos' performance as Henry Hill's bedazzled wife, Karen. Her peformance is awesome and it definitely serves the movie well.She holds the intrigue that many feel when it comes to gangsters, so she's relatable.
All in all, folks, Scorsese, with his wonderful steadycam shots, soundtrack,beautifully realized characters, and overall flawless cinematography, has created a powerhouse film that's on AFI's top 100 Films of All Time list and a film that isn't easy, if at all, to forget.
Scorsese, you're a genius! Thank the Movie Gods for you!
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Note: The two stars reflect the quality of this release, not the film itself, which would easily garner a full five stars.

Warners has done it again. This is the exact same disc that was released on Blu-ray before, only with the extra features piled onto a second disc and the whole thing repackaged in a pretty red book. I think there may be one or two new, but uninteresting features (I think they slapped on a couple of mob-themed Warners cartoons... a tacky move).

If you don't own GoodFellas on Blu already, get the earlier release, you'll be saving yourself about ten or fifteen bucks... or... you can wait and see if Warners finally does this masterpiece justice and releases it with a proper remastering. The video transfer on this release is pretty standard. It looks a little better than the DVD on a side-by-side comparison, but not much. The audio transfer is even less impressive. No matter how nice your sound system is, the whole thing sounds like it's coming out of TV speakers. Not very crisp, and not much separation. The whole presentation needs a good scrubbing.

This movie should be treated as a crown jewel of the Warners catalog, and so far it's been given the same treatment as any other catalog title. It's an Oscar winner for cryin' out loud! It's considered by many to rival The Godfather, which Paramount gave a very extensive and impressive Blu-ray release to a while back. The same double-dip release policy has been implemented before, and I'm sure it will be again. New Line (Warners-owned) is about to trot out Blu-rays for Lord of the Rings, but they will be the standard theatrical editions, not the expanded versions that fans will no doubt be expecting.

So, for now, save yourself some cash. Don't buy this thing twice, and if you still don't own it, stick with your DVD copy until Warners treats this classic with some respect.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
This is the second time around for this film on Blu. This edition will have the following extra features:

1.A 34-page booklet and on the discs themselves:
2. Martin Scorsese commentary track where he is joined by various cast and crew including Ray Liotta, Paul Sorvino and Nicholas Pileggi.
3. Henry Hill and FBI Agent Edward McDonald commentary.
4. Getting Made, Made Men and The Workaday Gangster making-of documentaries.
The above are all to be found on the two-disc Special Edition DVD and the recent Blu-ray.
They will be joined by:
5. Public Enemies: The Golden Age of the Gangster Film documentary - 106 minutes.
6.Four Warner Bros. mob-themed cartoons.

The documentary on the gangster film is already available separately here - Public Enemies - The Golden Age of the Gangster Film and in the boxed set Warner Gangsters Collection, Vol. 4 (The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse / Invisible Stripes / Kid Galahad / Larceny, Inc. / The Little Giant / Public Enemies: The Golden Age of the Gangster Film).

So if you have the documentary and you have the original Blu version you are getting nothing extra in this version.

As for the film itself, After you see this movie, all other mobster movies you see or ever have seen will seem like garbage. They and their cast of characters will all appear cartoonish in comparison. Of course, this is a movie about the mafia from the working man/gangster point of view, where "The Godfather" was a mafia movie filmed from the viewpoint of the executive suite, so there really is no valid comparison there. "Goodfellas" really does seem ahead of its time when you realize that the only artistic work about the mafia that compares to it in quality is the HBO series "The Sopranos", which debuted nine years after this movie was made. "Goodfellas" tells the real-life story of mobster Henry Hill, and it is largely true, although there are individual scenes that are out of sequence and others that were added for dramatic effect, such as Karen Hill flushing the coca ine down the toilet during the drug bust. Also, Tommy, the character that Joe Pesci played and the part for which he won an Oscar, was actually a composite of two separate gangsters. Other details are omitted completely, probably because they would have spun the movie off in too many different directions. For example, crime boss "Big Paulie" actually was having an affair with Henry Hill's wife, Karen. When Tommy tried to assault her and Paulie found out, that was when he alerted the Gambinos to the fact that Tommy had killed their missing crew member, "made man" Billy Batts, nine years earlier. This is the true reason that it took so long for Tommy to be killed over that incident. Thus, masterful direction of the story by Martin Scorsese in what was probably his finest film is why the audience has a more cohesive view of the mobsters portrayed in this movie than if we had been told every last detail.

What really makes this movie great is all of the personal details that enable you to see these mobsters living a largely suburban life, concerned about kids' birthday parties and getting the sauce just right for dinner, and all the while completely immersed in a completely amoral lifestyle in which murder and bribes solve everything- a lifestyle to which they would never voluntarily choose an alternative.

The film I recommend as one of the classics, but as for this version, if you have the Blu version already and you have the documentary on the gangster film, I can't see putting out this kind of money for four mobster related cartoons.

Film - 5/5
Extra features 2/5 (nothing we haven't seen before)
Averaged together = 3.5 stars

I round up from 3.5 to 4 stars just out of respect for the film.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on May 21, 2006
Not that there's anything wrong with The Godfather. Although its director and cowriter, Francis Ford Coppola, has expressed his dismay with audience reactions to the movie. Particularly, audience admiration for Michael Corleone (Coppola went to a number of screenings where people actually applauded when the door was slammed shut on Michael's wife, Kay, toward the end of the movie).

But I'm not knocking The Godfather. Coppola did not in any way, shape, or form intend to glorify organized crime. It appears that Coppola's primary intention was to criticize corporate America by showing its similarities with organized crime. For example, the movie demonstrated how organized crime's business operations were quite similiar to those of the "legitimate" operations of corporate America.

At any rate, Goodfellas demonstrated how ugly organized crime could get. These "goodfellas" murdered just about everyone outside their organization that they could get their hands on, and when that wasn't enough, they turned on one another. And selling drugs wasn't enough for them; they got themselves addicted to the stuff as well.

By the end of Goodfellas, no one walked away better off then they were at the beginning (and a good many of them didn't walk away at all). Compared to The Godfather, Goodfellas was completely unambiguous in showing that organized crime is highly unrewarding in any number of ways.

Scorsese's last masterpiece to date.
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