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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Quick and the Dead: Superbit Collection
Quick and the Dead: Superbit Collection
Columbia/Tri-Star // R // August 5, 2003
List Price: $26.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted July 27, 2003 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

(Review written in 2001. Information about the Superbit release has been added where appropriate.)

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.

The Superbit presentation offers the presentation in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. No pan & scan edition is present, allowing the anamorphic widescreen presentation to spread out across a dual-layer disc. The Superbit release does provide some noticable improvements over the original release, starting with definition. Although the previous presentation did deliver fine detail and sharpness, this presentation offered a greater level of fine detail, a smoother overall image and more depth to the picture.

Some problems were still present, however. The few minor specks on the print used are still there, as were a couple of minimal instances of edge enhancement. Pixelation was not spotted, nor were any other concerns. As with the original presentation, colors were reproduced superbly - maybe even a bit moreso here. Black level seemed a bit stronger here, too.

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 aggressive, 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.

The Superbit edition offers both the prior Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack option and an additional DTS 5.1 presentation. Despite being about eight years old, this soundtrack still stands up quite well, as the surround use is aggressive and still thrilling, placing viewers in the middle of the environment, while also adding greatly to the tone and tension of the picture. Both the DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 presentations are quite enjoyable, but the DTS soundtrack does show a few noticable improvements. Alan Silvestri's score sounded somewhat clearer and richer, while bass on the DTS soundtrack seemed a bit deeper. No major improvements, but a more enjoyable way to listen to exceptional sound design.

EXTRAS:: Nothing. This is a "Superbit" release. Although the original release had the film's trailer, even that has been removed here to make way for more room for audio/video quality.

Final Thoughts: "Quick and the Dead" is a beautifully filmed, well-acted piece, but the material is rather thin. Admittedly though, I've warmed to the picture a bit more since I first saw it. Columbia/Tristar's original DVD provides fine audio/video quality, but nothing in the way of supplemental material. Prior to the original DVD's 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. The Superbit edition does provide some improvements in audio/video quality, but the original edition - which can be found for $10 less - is a more affordable alternative, which still provides very good presentation quality.

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