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Improvement over original DVD but needs more extras (review for 2 DVD set)
on March 29, 2005
A return to the classic western of yesterday, "Silverado" recalls the sprawling efforts of Sergio Leone and the old spaghetti westerns while recycling many of the motifs of the best efforts from Howard Hawks, Anthony Mann and John Ford. It's a pity that Kasdan hasn't rethought the film and added in additional footage. Perhaps the version we saw in theaters was the definitive version but given the wealth of material I doubt it. "Silverado" is greater than the sum of its parts with a number of strong performances from Kevin Costner, Scott Glenn, Kevin Kline, Brian Dennehy and others. Kasdan manages to echo classic films in this sprawling but exciting western adventure.
Emmett (Scott Glenn) has just been released from prison and is on his way to Silverado to visit with his family when he's attacked by a group of outlaws. He's initially unclear as to why they chose him but it soon becomes apparent that they're hired guns sent by Ethan McKendrick (Ray Baker) to average the death of his father. Along the way Emmett must spring his kid brother Jake (Kevin Costner) from the jail of Turley for a killing that happened in self defense. Emmett has a guardian angel in the form of Mal (Danny Glover) a butcher who is headed to Silverado himself to help out his parents. Emmett also saves Paden (Kevin Kline) a man left to die in the desert by outlaws who ambushed him. When Emmett arrives in Silverado he finds things haven't changed; Ethan McKendrick is still trying to dominate the town by installing his own sheriff (Brian Dennehy) a former outlaw who rode at one time with Paden. He realizes that as long as he stays in Silverado he and his family's lives are in danger.
A beautiful and rich looking transfer highlights this first ever Superbit transfer of "Silverado". This Superbit transfer sparkles and I didn't notice any digital or analog blemishes of note. The black level of the transfer produces deep, rich shadows and the vibrant colors haven't looked this good since the movie was released theatrically in 1985. There's some noticable grain at the beginning of the film but that's to be expected. This is the first edition to sport a DTS track and a 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack as well. The DTS track has slightly better dynamic range but it's virtually impossible to tell them apart otherwise.
Unlike the previous single disc edition of "Silverado", this edition has a number of terrific extras and has relocated the original "Making of" featurette to the second disc to maximize the bit rate for a better picture and sound. "The Making of `Silverado'" features interviews with Lawrence and Mark Kasdan discussing the origin of the film. Lawrence Kasdan has a series of precise images he wanted to portray and turned to his brother Mark to help him flesh out a screenplay that would allow him to keep those startling images and make a coherent story.
"A Return to `Silverado'" features Kevin Costner discussing his involvement in the film. Although Costner had heard stories about Kasdan writing the part of Jake for him to make up for having to cut him out of "The Big Chill", Costner was never told that by Kasdan himself. "A History of Western Shootouts" is little more than a promo piece for 10 of Columbia's westerns with John Cleese doing the honors as narrator in discussing "Missing", "The Professionals", "The Quick and the Dead", "A Man Called Sledge", "Old Gringo", "The Man from Colorado" and others. Running almost 9 minutes, it's not much of a featurette consisting of scenes from each film briefly described by Cleese. "Columbia's Top Westerns Trailer" consists of a montage of scenes from classic westerns put together to advertise DVD titles for Columbia. Once again, it's little more than a promo piece. Finally we get "Along the Silverado Trail" a historical commentary about this western. There's no commentary from any of the cast or Kasdan which is a disappointment and a bit of a surprise.
The reason to buy this is the upgrade Superbit transfer. It looks terrific here and the DTS track sounds especially good. There are only two extras worthwhile on this Suberbit Gift Pack and that's "A Return to `Silverado' with Kevin Costner" and "Along the Silverado Trail". Everything else falls into the category of promo pieces or filler. The 20 page booklet included is also quite informative but duplicates much of what is said in the "Making of" featurette. There's also a nice deck of playing cards included in this set.