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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Quick and the Dead
Quick and the Dead
Columbia/Tri-Star // R // August 21, 2001
List Price: $14.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted September 4, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Director Sam Raimi has moved on to telling different tales, such as "A Simple Plan" and "For Love Of The Game", but he'll always be fondly remembered as the director of the "Evil Dead" series, which ended with 1993's classic "Army Of Darkness". The director's first mainstream attempt outside of "Darkness" was this 1995 western, where all of the elements came together - except for the story.

Sharon Stone stars as a woman with no name (who later turns out to be named Ellen) who rides into a dusty western town called Redemption one hot afternoon. The town is ruled by John Herod (Gene Hackman), a brutal man who keeps in complete control over every member of the townsfolk. She comes in just in time to join the annual "Quick Draw" contest, but her intentions are kept in the dark until the later in the picture.

Much of the film revolves around the contestants being whittled down towards the eventual winner - the main two that're vital to the story are The Kid (Leonardo Dicaprio) and Cort (Russell Crowe). The film has the performances down solid - Stone is at her best as a female version of Clint Eastwood, while Dicaprio, Crowe and Hackman lend very solid support.

The real untold star is the cinematographer. Most of my reviews mention exceptional work by the crew and Dante Spinotti (director Michael Mann's usual collaborator)'s work here is brilliant. Paired with director Raimi's wildly inventive visual style, Spinotti provides not only gorgeous imagery, but fast-moving camera-work and immaginative angles.

Overall, though, the material is a bit too thin to support the running time or offer any real substance. A better screenplay and "Quick and the Dead" might have been an exceptional picture. Right now though, it's just merely watchable and mildly entertaining.


The DVD

VIDEO: An earlier effort from Columbia/Tristar, "The Quick and the Dead" is presented in both 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and pan & scan on the flip side of the disc. The 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer is not flawless, but at its best, its extremely pleasing to view. Sharpness and detail are generally strong; some scenes here and there did seem a hair on the softer side, but this didn't really present much of a concern at all.

Problems remained fairly few and far between. I noticed some edge enhancement now and then, but it never really became enough of a problem to cause annoyance or distraction. Slight pixelation appears once very early on, but never become visible afterwards. The print used seemed to be in exceptional condition, as only a minor speckle or two appeared during the running time.

The golden, dusty colors of the surrounding landscape are faithfully (and often quite exceptionally) recreated on this presentation. I noticed no instances of smearing and colors looked crisp and warm. Flesh tones also appeared accurate and natural, as well. Not quite perfection, but a really strong effort nonetheless.

SOUND: The 1995 picture also boasts a very fine Dolby Digital 5.1 audio presentation. Director Sam Raimi's pictures have always seemed to operate under the impression that sound plays a vital role in the experience, and "Quick & The Dead" is similar. The presentation is often quite agressive, with gunshots ringing out in the surrounds. Surrounds also are quite active with crowd sounds and music. Audio quality was very good; the Western score sounded rich and lively, while dialogue came through clearly. Not quite as impressive sound-wise as Bruce Willis's 1996 picture "Last Man Standing", but still very close.

MENUS:: Basic, non-animated menus livened by film-themed images.

EXTRAS:: Trailer.

Final Thoughts: "Quick and the Dead" is a beautifully filmed, well-acted piece, but the material is rather thin. Columbia/Tristar's DVD provides fine audio/video quality, but nothing in the way of supplemental material. Prior to the DVD's new reprice, I probably wouldn't have recommended it, but since it can now be found for as low as 9.99 in some places, some may now find it worth seeking out at that price.

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